WordPress gives us the option of picking one or more categories for blog posts (or it will just pick the default for you), and you can also use tags. But what exactly are tags and categories, and how should we be using them? Let’s chat about that.
Categories form part of the structure of your site. They’re like big containers to keep your posts organized. Every post needs a container to live in, and the default “uncategorized” category is its own container.
Each of your categories has a URL where they live. My “insights into psychology” category lives at: https://mentalhealthathome.org/category/insights-into-psychology/
I have 17, which is pared down from the 20-something I had not long ago. That feels reasonable, given that I’ve got around 1000 posts, which is also pared down quite a bit from what I had several months ago. I didn’t start creating my own categories until maybe a year or so into my blog’s existence; it just didn’t cross my mind.
Categories are containers your posts live in, and tags are identifying labels you stick on them. You don’t have to have any tags at all, or you can have a maximum of 15. Ideally, none of your tags would have the same name as any of your categories, as this can confuse search engines.
Using tags can help bring people to your blog, as the WordPress Reader lets people search for posts by tag.
Like categories, tags have URLs. My “blogging” tag lives at: https://mentalhealthathome.org/tag/blogging/
Reining in your tags
It’s very easy to accumulate massive numbers of tags, including typo tags that you never actually used. Because each tag has a URL, your site can become very large because of all of the tags kicking around. At one point I had around 1000 tags. Yikes!
An easy place to start weeding out tags is to delete any that have 3 or fewer posts using the tag. I’m currently down to 200 tags. I’ve kept a few tags that have low post counts because they’re psychiatric diagnostic labels, and I want those tagged.
How they’re useful
Tags and categories are most useful if they help both you and your readers find things on your site. The longer you’ve been blogging and the bigger your site becomes, the more useful it is to have those extra bits of organization.
How many categories and tags do you have, and do you use them regularly on your site?
The blogging toolbox series has tips to support you in your blogging journey. It includes these posts:
45 thoughts on “How Do You Use Tags and Categories on Your Blog?”
All of a sudden my blog is categorising and tagging posts itself? I still can’t get my head around it. But I’ve realised something today — I’m doing too much of everything in one day! I can’t seem to focus on one thing alone! 🙁
With blogging, anything other than the actual reading and writing is just fluff, and doesn’t deserve to steal any limited resources.
This was really insightful, thank you for sharing – I know for a fact I need to go through my tags and give them a bit of a spring clean! x
They’re so easy to accumulate!
I am still learning the in’s and out’s of categories and tags.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I finally started learning how to use both correctly. I am not sure how many I have of either. Probably need to spend some time and pare them down to a manageable number.
A fellow blogger explained both of these to me. I only learned about the maximum number of tags about two months ago when you gave me the answer after a post I wrote.
There’s so much to learn. I’ve picked things up in dribs and drabs along the way, and on a pretty regular basis I’m finding out about new things I hadn’t heard before.
Very helpful for new bloggers!
OMG! I have over 1200 tags! I definitely don’t use all of them! I am just too lazy to go through them and get rid of what I don’t use!
I had almost that many when I decided it was time to start cutting down.
I have about 6 categories I think, but actively use 3, so a weeding out session is next on my spring clean list. I don’t know how many tags there are but I prefer to keep them concise and not make a tag for every little detail. There’s a blog that I follow and most of their posts have many more tags included than the length of actual content… which baffles me.
That seems excessive.
It really is and I just don’t understand the logic behind it
I love how you explain this and placed this post in Pocket so I can find it and reference it again 🙂