Some of you asked me to write this one and I thought I’d share from my blog at melissahassard.com. I hope you find it useful and would love your comments and feedback!
Many have expressed interest in learning more about using WordPress Categories and Tags, and the difference between the two.
First, let’s take a look at the definitions as they are explained in WordPress’ own documentation:
Categories provide a helpful way to group related posts together, and to quickly tell readers what a post is about. Categories also make it easier for people to find your content. Categories are similar to, but broader than, tags. For more information on the differences between categories and tags please check out this support doc.
Tags provide a useful way to group related posts together and to quickly tell readers what a post is about. Tags also make it easier for people to find your content. Tags are similar to, but more specific than, categories. The use of tags is completely optional.
If you read the WordPress documentation on using categories and tags, you’ll notice that in both definitions you’ll find the following: “also make it easier for people to find your content” and “tell readers what your post is about.”
The same verbiage written into both definitions. Confusing. So what’s the deal?
Categories are a useful way we organize our sites for ourselves and our readers. Think in broad terms like navigation.
Tags are essentially the keywords in your article or post. Keywords means the most important topics you are covering. Perhaps a nuanced detail that often gets overlooked but is important. Basically, it is a handful of words that are significant or relevant to what you are trying to say.
Search engines like Google are constantly improving their algorithms (the formulaic way they send their spiders to analyze and catalog every site) to ignore and demote blatant attempts to overshadow other sites by using false tags, unrelated links, and other sketchy means. As a result, tagging your blog and tagging it correctly is essential.
Further in the description of tags, WordPress says this:
[read more here: via WordPress, Google, and Content Tagging — A User Guide | Melissa I. Hassard.]