Part 1: What Are Categories and Tags For, Exactly?
You’ve just finished writing a post on your WordPress blog. You’ve proofread it, it’s good to go, and you sigh in satisfaction as you go to hit the publish button…
… and, oh, wait. You’re supposed to assign the post to a category and add tags first.
What are those categories and tags for, anyway? Are they just some kind of internal thing for managing your blog? Do you have to use both of them? Is assigning categories and tags the same as assigning SEO keywords?
If you’re wondering how to use categories and tags on your WordPress blog (or even what they are), you’re not alone. We get lots of questions about this from our website clients.
Categories and tags serve an important purpose. They’re used to organize your posts so readers can easily navigate and find the content they want. However, they function differently.
Categories are the main topics of your blog—like a table of contents that appears on your blog’s front page. Assigning a category is mandatory. If you don’t assign one, your post will default to Uncategorized, which is still technically a category. (More on that later.)
For example, say you have a movie review blog. Your categories, or main topics, might be Comedy, Drama, Action, Family, Sci-Fi, and Horror.
Tags are more specific and are used to narrow down the content further. They show up at the end of a post, to help readers find others posts with similar topics. Assigning or adding a tag to a post is optional, and tags aren’t tied to any one category.
On your movie review blog, you could use tags for specific actors and movie franchises. These tags could be used in any of the categories (for example, an actor appears in both a Comedy and a Drama, and “Star Wars” could go under both Action and Sci-Fi).
Now that we’ve covered what categories and tags are, in Part 2 we’ll move on to how to use them.