Categories & Tags in WordPress (how and why to use them)

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If you’re trying to build a blog, online store, or really any kind of website, you’ll probably want to organize your content at least a little. It might not matter so much in the beginning when your site is small and easily navigable, but as you grow and add pages and posts and products, you’re going to want to be able to find things. And of course, so will your readers/ clients/ customers! 

What’s the difference between categories and tags?

WordPress provides us with two ways to organize our content: categories and tags. The main difference is that categories are hierarchical. That means that you can nest them, so you’ll have categories, sub categories, etc. Tags, on the other hand, are more just for descriptions. 

In Divi, there are some functionalities that work by pulling the category assignments. If you use the blog module, for example, you can set it so that it shows posts from all categories, or only from selected categories. I usually set it for ‘all categories’ on my blog roll page. But, if I add a section for ‘you might also like…’ I usually just set that to pull only blog posts from the same category as the article that was just read. 

What are WordPress categories?

Categories in wordpress are exactly what they sound like. They have the extra feature of being hierarchical, which is just a fancy word meaning that you can make sub categories and sub-sub categories to organize your content. Not only does this help readers and visitors find what they are looking for and find additional content, but it helps with seo as well. Google looks at your category hierarchy to understand what your content is about and how it’s structured.

What are WordPress tags?

In WordPress, tags are more used for descriptions. You might use these for popular topics or keywords. Some bloggers use them for seasonal or temporary descriptions where you might not want to make a category. Or, they can also be used to group levels, like beginning/ intermediate/ advanced. In the case of my teaching resources store, I use tags for the different grade levels so that teachers can easily find the information they need.

How to use categories and tags with WooCommerce

If you have a store with WooCommerce, you can also organize your products using categories and tags. They work the exact same way as the ones in your blog posts. For example, I built a website for a woman in Texas who designs fine jewelry. On her site, we used tags for the different colors of the jewelry. We also use other descriptors like ‘monarch’ or ‘rainbow’ because she has a few different kinds of pieces with those patterns on them.

Psst… if you want to be really fancy and do SEO-things, you can edit the categories. I usually add a thumbnail and a 300+ word description with more content about the category. Sometimes, your category page will show up on Google, so it doesn’t hurt to add more detail and content!

I hope that helps clear up some of the confusion on categories and tags on WordPress. I know it’s easy to mix them up, but they really do have different function. And of course, it’s much better for our readers and for seo if we can use them correctly! For more information, check out this article on the Yoast website or read more about SEO basics here.

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