May 27, 2022
WordPress tags and categories

What is a tag in WordPress? And how do you use them?

WordPress tags are a special type of default tool you can use to categorize your website posts. You can add multiple tags to each of your posts to help visitors find similar content on your site. There are also WordPress categories to consider. Unlike tags, WordPress categories are not optional.

Keep reading to learn more about WordPress categories, tags, and how to use them to your advantage.

What Is a Tag in WordPress?

A tag in WordPress describes specific details of your posts. They’re usually made up of one or two words. WordPress tags are a great way to improve the usability of your website. They help users quickly find a specific topic they’re looking for without needing to go through all of the content you’ve published.

For instance, if you have a post about a book, you could add tags that describe the publisher, author, and topics you covered.

Related reading: 27 WordPress Resources to Bookmark Right Now >>

What Are WordPress Categories?

Now that you know what a WordPress tag is, let’s switch to another default taxonomy — WordPress categories. Generally speaking, a taxonomy is a way of grouping things together (for instance, WordPress posts).

You can use WordPress categories to sort out your blog posts and group them into different sections. A news website is a good example of that. It might have categories for the articles filed under News, Weather, Sports, etc. Categories help users quickly to navigate your site and find different topics it covers.

WordPress Tags vs. Categories

WordPress tags and categories look pretty similar at first. Even though both of them help you organize content, they do have some key differences:

  • Every WordPress post needs to be placed within a certain category, whereas tags are optional.
  • Categories are hierarchical, while tags are not. This means you can create a parent category and “support” it with child subcategories. Tags, on the other hand, don’t have such relationships — each one is just a standalone entity.
  • While categories are something you use to broadly group the topics you write about, tags are more unique, specific, and narrowly related to the actual content in your post.

It’s best to use categories for broad groupings of certain topics. For instance, if you want to create a review website, you might use categories like TV, Books, or Film.

Tags, on the other hand, refer to topics that are way more specific, as well as ones you want to associate with related content. Once again, let’s say you want to start a website that reviews media. You might want to use tags such as action, adventure, science fiction, or horror.

The best option is to use both WordPress tags as well as categories.

If you’re, for example, making a review of a romantic comedy, you can place your post into the broader category Films and add specific tags like romantic comedy, or the name of the director and actors.

People who read your post could then use the tags to find the rest of your posts related to that topic.

WordPress Page vs. Post

There’s one more thing many WordPress users find a bit complicated — the difference between WordPress page vs. post. Here are some key factors to help you distinguish them:

  • Posts are used for more timely content you update on a regular basis, whereas pages are for static content.
  • Posts are a type of content that fits great on social media, while pages are not.
  • Posts have a published date and author, while pages don’t.
  • You organize posts by using WordPress tags and categories, whereas pages are hierarchical (child/parent).

When WordPress was first created, site owners primarily used posts for traditional blog entries. These days, you can use them for other types of content too. For example, you can share company news, publish articles, or simply tease your followers with updates related to the products or services you offer.

Generally speaking, posts are a great way to present content you’d like to share with your visitors on a regular basis. On the other hand, pages are supposed to hold key information you won’t change that often like Contact and About Us. Most websites have such content in their main navigation menu where users can easily find it.

WordPress allows users to create as many pages and posts as they want. Still, posts are not necessary — many business or portfolio sites have only pages. At the same time, if you chose WordPress as a strictly blogging platform, you might not find pages so important. It’s still smart to add at least one or two basic ones, so your readers know who you are and where to contact you.

Related reading: How to Create a One-Page Website >>

Best Practices: How to Use Tags in WordPress & More

Now that we covered what is a tag in WordPress and more, let’s discuss how it looks in practice.

A Single Post to Multiple Categories?

WordPress allows you to assign your post into multiple categories. You can do it by adding it to a parent category plus subcategories or a couple of parent categories instead.

However, having multiple categories won’t positively affect your SEO. You should put posts in multiple categories only if it makes sense for your audience. Otherwise, search engines can see it as a duplicate post, which lowers the overall SEO value of your content.

If you still want to go with multiple categories, at least try to avoid putting one post into two or more parent ones. In other words, each of your posts should be within one main category only.

WordPress Tags SEO

When it comes to SEO, WordPress is definitely the best CMS (content management system) you can get. Once you install it, WordPress comes with built-in SEO features that help you get a better position in search results. It has predetermined features that guide all search engines to index the pages, posts, tags, and categories in your website as well as store the information in its database.

It’s important to learn how to use tags in WordPress. When done correctly, a well-managed taxonomy such as tags can definitely boost your SEO. Still, they hurt your efforts too.

For example, you can create a similar name for a tag and a category. That way, you get two identical tag and category pages. If you use Movies both as a category and a tag, search engines might be confused about which one should be first on the search results. A similar problem can happen for single or plural nouns in your tags, such as Movies or Movie.

Also, tag pages don’t have unique content on their own. You write the unique content in the individual post, while tag pages have the posts’ excerpts. That’s exactly why search engines scan post pages rather than tag pages.

Related reading: SEO Trends in 2022: The Future of SEO >>

Unique Content And Taxonomy Pages

Add unique content to your tag and category pages to make them more attractive to search engines. First, include introductory content that briefly explains the topic. This will also make these pages more satisfying to your audience.

How can you do that? It’s simple — when you click on the name of one of your taxonomies in the category and tag menus in the WordPress backend, you get to a page where you can add a description to it. Add a keyword-rich description to improve your rankings.

Try Fully Managed WordPress Hosting from Nexcess

WordPress is a versatile content management solution that makes it really easy for you to create a website. It’s the most popular tool for site creation with more than 100 WordPress versions released in the last 18 years. Plus, it’s great for both beginners and advanced users.

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Aaron Binders
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