Categories and Tags in WordPress – SEO best practices

Categories and tags in WordPressThe most misunderstood element by new bloggers is that the way they handle categories and tags in wordpress and mainly people who moving from blogger to WordPress have this confusion and this is because they just used Labels in blogger.

The goal of this article is to elucidate the following questions for bloggers who get confused with categories and tags in wordpress. What are categories and what are tags? What’s the difference between categories and tags? How many categories and how many tags can be used for a post? Does tags works like Meta keywords? How do categories and tags play a role in SEO? If you are seeking answers for any one of the questions then you are at the right place.

What are categories and tags in wordpress?

Categories and tags in wordpress are known as taxonomies and the main purpose of categories and tags is to sort a content that helps user experience among your site to pick related to that specific topic.

For example this post is categorized under wordpress and tagged with wordpress beginner and WordPress SEO. So when a person wants topics related to wordpress he/she uses categories and if the person wants topics more related to wordpress SEO then he/she uses tags.

Difference between categories and tags in wordpress

Example: VS

Categories in wordpress

  • Categories focus on broad topics which describe topics and posts that are more related. This helps users to find what your blog is all about.
  • Categories can be sub categorized and they are hierarchical.

 Tags in wordpress

  • Tags focus on narrow topics which describes details of that particular post. This helps users to find topics within that particular detail.
  • Tags are not hierarchical and they cannot be subbed.

Example for a travel blog: Asia, North America, Europe, Australia are categories and United States, Mexico, Canada, Cuba are sub categories. If you are writing a post about “Top 10 tourist attractions in Thailand” then it is categorized under Asia and tagged with tourist attractions, Thailand, grand palace, islands and more.

It is not that compulsory to tag a post whereas you must categorize your post and if you fail to categorize then the post is sorted with “uncategorized” category which is default in wordpress so better rename “uncategorized” to something like others.

Related: Don’t get confused with posts and pages in wordpress

Categories and tags in wordpress

How many categories and tags can be used?

Categories in wordpress

For a blog it is good to have 5 to 10 categories and the more is 15. The good number of category is to vary based on your blogs complexity and if your blog has wider topics then better is to sub-categorize.

As it’s mentioned above categories focus on broad topics and so it should have more topics related to that category rather a category has just 4 to 5 topics which are not good.

Example: Take the above sample we made with travel blog. So it has all the continents as categories and all the categories should be filled with some equal amount of contents if not then sub-categorize.

The right way to categorize in your blog is by having 5 categories with 40 to 50 topics each and not by having 40 categories with 3 to 2 topics each.

Sub categories in wordpress

If you are allowing guest post in that travel blog and one writes about country France. You shouldn’t sub-categorize if there is one post about France. The best time to sub-categorize is only when you have more topics about France.

How many categories can be used for a post?

A post can be allocated in as many categories that you wish and it depends on how that particular post is suited for the categories you are assigning. Some believe that assigning a post to multiple categories can get you in duplicate content penalty but we don’t since Google explained it in 2008 demystifying about duplicate content.

Assigning a post to different categories can only help users and not in SEO and if you don’t want to index your categories due to duplicate content penalty then you can check “noindex” for categories in Yoast SEO or All in one SEO.

Categories and Tags in wordpress

How many tags can be used for a post?

You can add as many tags you want for a single post and there is no limit. The main purpose of tags is to help users find topics in more detail (micro-data) within your site. The best number is to have 10 to 15 tags for a post. If you give more tags for a post then your blog looks something like having 5000 tags for just 100 posts.

Categories and tags in wordpress

Does a tag work like Meta keywords?

Beginners misunderstand the purpose of Tags and they simple use it as a Meta keyword box for their post. Tags won’t work like Meta keywords, but SEO plugin has that option and if you followed our tutorial on All in one SEO pack then we mentioned about checking the “use tags as Meta keywords” if not then tags will not work like Meta keywords.

Categories and tags in wordpress

Categories and tags in wordpress and their role in SEO

Search engines are smarter and they think like users do and so provide useful unique content for users and assign categories and tags relatedly. The truth is there is no big role for categories and tags in SEO. A well optimized site should focus on providing useful resources for humans and not for robots.

We hope that all above answered questions helped you in understanding the categories and tags in wordpress. So be smarter have a well optimized site and blog like a pro.

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