One of the most discussed topics in conferences and communities of WordPress is the use of categories and labels (the latter better known as ‘tags’). Many WordPress users are often confused and generate controversy about what is right when making use of these features. There has always been a discussion from how much to which is better, how to use them, which attracts more traffic and works better for SEO, what are the differences between them, etc. If you have doubts and are interested in improving the user experience and traffic of your website, with the correct use of these WordPress features, this is the perfect place.
Differences between categories and tags
Categories are basically the table of contents of your website. Categories are used to group your content and maintain a sort order. In other words, categories help your site users identify what they are looking for.
Tags, on the other hand, are used as micro-data that describe specific details of the content. Remember when using meta-keywords for SEO was a good practice? This is how it works. If, for example, the category of your content is shoes, you should use tags like weddings, elegant, costume, etc.
The categories should be the basis of the organization since as a base they maintain a hierarchical order. Unlike the tags, they can have sub-categories. The tags are optional; you should always categorize your content or it will remain as “Uncategorized” or “Uncategorized”.
How to use categories and tags
The categories are the initial basis of the content you will offer on your website. You should sort the content of your site in such a way that anyone who comes to it will understand how and where to find everything. Categories can grow as you approach more topics, but usually do not grow at the same level as labels. How many categories and labels to use? A post should definitely not be classified in more than two categories. Tags should be limited to the number of topics covered in each post. Remember that each piece of your site must have a purpose and that is one of the best helps to categorize your content. This is where you should keep in mind that the tags are not a lot of words to simply “put there”, but that your goal is to describe in detail what you are talking about.
When and how to use sub-categories
Sub-categories come into play when you have content with a hierarchy lower than a category, but that is definitely not a simple tag. Let’s take an example: If you have a news website in your categories you should find something like this:
- Crime, etc.
The sub-categories of “Sports” should be something like:
Speaking of how to use, let’s see what tags might have an article in the football category: yellow cards, UEFA, selections, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc.
Optimize categories and tags for SEO
The main purpose of using categories and tags is to guide users with a good navigation through your website. Make sure to have a good user experience to avoid pogo-sticking. The correct use of categories, subcategories, and tags, in addition to providing user experience to humans, also helps us with AI.
Categories or tags for SEO?
This is one of the most controversial parts of category and tag discussions. Is there any difference or advantage in using one or the other? The answer is quite simple: no. This case should not be seen from the perspective: categories vs. taxonomies. Categories and tags are meant to work together. The purpose of each is to contribute directly to the usability of your website. Therefore, using the two appropriately will be giving added value to different SEO factors.
Duplicate content and penalties
Duplicate content has always been, for robots, one of the most important SEO issues (Both external and internal duplicate content.) However, neither Google nor any other search engine will penalize your site for having categories or tags with partially similar content, this confirmed in 2008 with an article that removed the myth of this penalty.
If you take the time to make proper use and optimize the categories and tags of your website, you will get good results with your users, and therefore with search engines. Use the categories like your table of contents and the tags like classification to detail. From the beginning of any project, it is very important to do a good planning of how to use categories and labels. If you are working with a team, it is best to make a guidance document for their use. This will prevent your team from being confused and causing organizational problems with the content.
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