If you own a WordPress website it’s likely that you already use Categories and Tags, two of the three default WordPress taxonomies (ways of grouping things) to organise your content. Tom Ewer introduced a useful analogy in a post he wrote about Categories and Tags where he compares Categories to the table of contents and Tags to the index in a book. The post you’re reading now will explain how to use them on your WordPress site and why it’s a good habit to get into.
The more regularly you blog the more important Categories and Tags become. Most WordPress themes show the most recently published blog posts on the home or blog page. The assumption is that the most recently published content will be of most interest to the visitor and that regularly returning visitors will see whether any new content has been published. This is fine, but a post you wrote six months ago may be of much more interest to visitors – so how are they going to find that? Enter Categories and Tags.
Some websites use widgets and plugins to show the most popular posts or recent comments attributed to posts. Visitors will also use the search field to find the content they’re looking for which returns posts with the keywords searched on. These are decent options for searching for content on a WordPress website, but the most widely used method is to assign Categories and Tags to each post.
Using Categories: Best practice
It is widely agreed that you should choose no more than a dozen main (Parent) Categories for your site, ideally you’ll have about six which should be ample. Some WordPress users employ sub-Categories for each Parent Category which is also fine.
So how do you decide which Categories to use? Well this should come out of your content strategy. You’ll have given thought to what themes you intend to write about, so it’s just a case of finalising the Categories from this. On this site I use five Parent Categories as you’ll see on the sidebar.
You can add new Categories when you’re writing a new post or use the page in the Posts section of the left hand menu, Dashboard view. From here you can also edit or delete Categories and the slugs that have been created for each.
Once you’re settled with your Categories you simply place the default widget in your sidebar that shows the Categories. When clicked it’ll take the visitor to the posts assigned to each.
Using Tags: Best practice
Unlike Categories you can use as many Tags for your content as you want to. Pick out the main terms, themes or phrases you’ve used within the post and create Tags for them. As with Categories you can create these Tags when you write a post or you can use the page on the left hand dashboard menu below Categories.
All the Tags you have created from previous posts will show when you click on Choose from the most used tags – and you can select them from here. The ones you have used most often on the site will appear in a larger font – this is called a Tag Cloud. You can show a Tag Cloud on your website which will display all the Tags used on your site.
Tags appear at the end of your blog post. Visitors can click on these to show a list of all other posts which have been Tagged with the same word.
And that’s all there is to it. It’s recommended that you use Categories and Tags to manage your content and improve the user experience for visitors by making it easier for them to find the content they’re looking for. If you’ve anything to add to this please do so in the area below.