Tags vs. Categories In WordPress + Everything you need to know (2019 guide)

As we see in our online and offline courses, it has been identified that most of WordPress beginners do not know the differences between Categories and tags. They also do not know how to use them in the best way. In this post I want to compare these two ones once forever: tags vs. categories.

What are Categories in WordPress?

In general categories are the best way to make your site more disciplined. Let’s make it more clear with some examples:

  1. News website: in such a website we have different categories like: sport, politics, social, art, etc. You can have subcategories. For sport subcategories can be Football, Baseball, Swimming, etc.
  2. Online store: Consider an online store for electronic products. For such a website categories could be: filming cameras, photography cameras, smartphones.

For WordPress site, if you want to add categories for your posts, go to Posts > Categories:

tags vs. categories in WordPress
How to create a category in WordPress

Every category should have these items:

  1. Content or description
  2. Link or Slug
  3. Name
  4. It should be defined as a parent or child category

In future posts we will talk about what is a category in WordPress in more specific way.

What are Tags in WordPress?

To speak simple, tags are used to make your site disciplined too. But how? Are they have same responsibility like categories?

For many beginners answer of this question is YES! But they are absolutely WRONG! As we explained in previous section, we use categories to group our contents or products. But for tags, it is not the same. We can name these responsibilities for tags:

Tags for information:

  1. Tags are used to show more specific information to visitors at just one sight.

Let’s make it more clear with some examples. For a content which is about a robbery in London. The author could have two different methods:

    1. Use tons of keywords as tags: London, Robbery, thief, thief in London, robbery in London, crime, etc. You name it. Sometimes these tags could be limitless!
      In this case you have to set your tag pages on “noindex” mode. Because duplicate content is threatening you. In a full review article, we have talked about this problem. You can read it here.
    2. Use specific tags: a better method which we recommend, it would be great if site’s editor has been identified limited tags. The authors are allowed to use just those tags for their contents. In this case number of tags will be limited in one or two. For example, London, Robbery.

Tags to group

  1. We can use tags to group contents and products but in a more specific way. Let’s work again on news websites and online stores:
    1. News websites: Imagine a news about a football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid (which are my favorite teams) that had been held in Madrid. Categories with this part will be like this:
      News > Sports > Football
      But what about tags? For tags you can just add three tags: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Madrid. When users read this article, might see the tags. By clicking on tags visitors can read all the news about Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Madrid city.
    2. Online stores: for online stores usage of tags can be more interesting. I said that categories for an electronic online store can be like filming cameras, photography cameras, smartphones, etc. But in any of these categories there could be tens of brands. We can use tags to group our products with brand names. So for smartphones tags could be like: Apple, Samsung, Huawei, etc.

If you want add tags in WordPress, there is a box in right sidebar of editor page with Tags title. Just write your desired tag in the box and click on Add.

tags vs. categories in WordPress
How to create a tag in WordPress

Until this point you must found out which one is better to use: tags vs. categories. Yeah! No one is better than the other one. It depends on your website taxonomy. As I see in recent years, the best method is, at first you define your website purpose: News, Online store, etc. After that you need to define main categories, subcategories and tags. They should be limited.

Which one is better for SEO? Tags vs. Categories

Another question I face in each online and offline course is which one is better for SEO? Tags vs categories. After reading this article, you have to answer this question.

If you have chosen one of them, you need to read this article again! Why? Because as I explained above, none of them is better than the other one. You just need to use both of them. They work together. For a professional webmaster who is working with WordPress, you need to use both tags and categories to gain a great taxonomy for your website.

Is it necessary to set tags and categories for a post or product?

Again it completely depends on your site purpose. You can add tags and categories to help visitors to understand your site better and find what they want fast and easy. In this case yes it is necessary.

But if you do not add any tag to your posts or products nothing will happen. But for categories, WordPress chooses the default category which is Uncategorized.

Conclusion: tags vs. categories?

In this article we have discussed about tags vs. categories. Now you definitely know how to create a tag or category. You also know how to use them to have a great taxonomy on your WordPress site. And last but not least, you know the answer of this question that Which one is better for SEO? Tags or Categories.

We are here to answer any question about tags and categories. Please feel free to share with us and our readers any experience about tags vs. categories.

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