What is the difference between categories and tags? Are both really necessary? And which do I use when? Read on and we will explore the mystery of categories versus tags.
What is a Category?
A category is a group of posts that have a broad topic in common. This website is devoted to how you can make money working from home by using a WordPress website combined with Affiliate Marketing. Therefore the two main categories on this website are WordPress and Affiliate Marketing.
Categories are relevant to several posts on your website whereas Tags are relevant to an individual post. More on Tags later.
If your website is about cats then your categories could include Kittens, Mature Cats, Older Cats, Health Issues, Behavior Problems, etc. Then you would write each of your posts with the chosen categories in mind.
An important aspect of categories is that you can add categories to your navigation menu to help your reader find topics of interest.
Each post can appear in more than one category
Your post about health issues in older cats could appear in both Health Issues and Older Cats. If it’s about a health issue that can affect cats of every age then you would put it into all the age-appropriate categories. So it would appear in Health Issues, Kittens, Mature Cats, and Older Cats but not in Behavior Problems.
You don’t need lots of categories. See if the article you’re writing will fit into one of your previously defined categories. Try to keep the number of categories manageable so they fit comfortably into your website’s menu. And one or two words are usually enough to define each category.
One of the first things you’ll want to do as you’re building out your website is to edit the name of the category ‘Uncategorized’. You’ll need to rename it with a default category of your choosing. On this website, I have made the default category ‘WordPress’.
On the cat website, you could make your default category ‘Health Issues’. For your default category try to choose a broad topic that you intend to write a lot of posts about. In other words, your ‘niche’. Your ‘Cat’ niche is probably not so much about cats in general but how you can help cat owners solve problems with their cats.
If you’re really stuck for a name for your default category then call it “General”.
How to Create Categories
When you are writing a post in edit mode you’ll see Categories in the right-hand column when you’re using the Post tab. Underneath any existing categories, you’ll see “Add New Category”. This is the quickest and easiest way to add a new category.
Click on the link and type in the name of your new category. Then you can either hit the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard or click on the “Add New Category” button. The current post will be automatically assigned to the new category you’ve just created.
Always try to place your post into an existing category rather than creating new categories. Having too many categories will become unmanageable.
Each main category can have many child categories. Of course, in WordPress, each category can only have one parent category. This feature is optional. If it suits your website use it, if not just keep them as top-level categories or you can mix them up. Not many main categories need to have child categories.
Add Categories to your Menu
Click on one of the categories in my menu under “Blog” and you’ll get excerpts of all the posts using that category. As with your blogroll, the excerpts for categories appear in chronological order and may get spread out over a number of pages.
How to Change the Name of a Category
You can access existing categories via your WordPress dashboard menu. Hover your mouse over “Posts” in your left-hand menu and click on “Categories”.
This is where you can remove any unwanted category, edit or change the name of an existing category and add descriptions. Make sure you’ve chosen a broad category that suits your main content as your default category before you delete or edit “Uncategorized”.
What is a tag?
Think of tags as alternative titles to your post and subheadings. For each tag, use one or two words or a very short phrase. It may be a good idea to use some of your subheadings as tags.
Tags help internet surfers find your post when they are looking for a topic that interests them or an article that provides a solution to their problem.
So tags help people find your article on the internet (and if you use a search box on your site) and categories also help people who are already on your website find other articles they may find interesting.
You can use multiple tags on each post and you can use the same tag on more than one post whenever it’s appropriate. Try to use at least two tags for every post, they will help your posts get found by the search engines.
Tags for this post include:
- what is a wordpress category
- what is a tag
- wordpress tutorials
- how to create categories
- change category name
Category and Tags Widgets
If you don’t want to put your categories into your main menu you can use a Category widget in your sidebar. You can make this into a dropdown list to save space.
There’s also an option to add a Tag Cloud widget. Personally, I find it a bit distracting so I don’t use it myself. And, as it’s generated as the page loads, it could slow down your website’s loading speed.
Are you making good use of categories and tags?
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