If you’re new to WordPress or just beginning your blog journey, you may have questions about the concept of Categories and Tags. What are they? How and why do you use them? These are not uncommon inquiries in the WordPress world! So, let me answer those questions for you.
In a nutshell, categories and tags have two main jobs:
- They help your visitors quickly find the content they are interested in
- They tell search engines like Google, where to find related content on your site.
But What Are Categories and Tags Exactly?
Sometimes it’s best to get definitions from the source.
According to the folks at WordPress, “Categories are best used for broad groupings of topics. For example, if you’re creating a site that reviews media, you might use categories such as Books or Films or TV.”
WordPress explains tags as follows, “Tags are much more specific topics that you want to use to associate related content. For example, if you were creating a site that reviews media, you might want to use tags such as Science Fiction or Horror or Action Adventure.”
Tags are used to get more specific. You could think of them as sub-categories.
Categories are broad groupings, and tags are for details.
Here’s another example:
Let’s say your toy review site includes a blog post about a popular video game. You would place that blog post in the Video Game category. Relevant tags might include Xbox, Switch, Playstation, role-playing, and the type of game.
Get the idea?
Since the Toy category is big and broad, the tags help narrow down that grouping.
How to Use Categories and Tags
When writing a blog post, you must choose a category, or WordPress will do it for you. WordPress expects you to select a category for each piece of content, and if you don’t, WordPress will automatically add the “Uncategorized” category. Yuck. This isn’t at all helpful to search engines or your readers!
Here’s How To Add Categories
You can create categories in two different ways – through the category admin area and while editing a blog post.
Adding new categories through the category admin page is excellent for bulk adding groups or making changes. To add a category through the category admin area just follow the simple instructions below:
1. Click on the “Categories” menu option under the “Posts” menu on the admin menu.
2. The Categories admin page will display all the categories you currently have on the right side.
3. The left of the Categories admin page will allow you to add categories quickly.
4. Enter the Category Name – This is the name that website visitors will see on you site
5. Enter the Category Slug – This is the URL friendly version of the category name. For example, the slug for a new category named ‘Busines’ would be business, and the URL to display all posts in that category would be http://example.com/business (replace example.com with the name of your site).
6. Choose a Parent Category – If you wish to use nested categories, such as a ‘Non-Fiction’ category under the ‘Books’ category, then you need to choose the parent category.
7. Enter the Category Description – A simple description of the group is best. If your WordPress theme supports the display of category description, this is where the narrative comes from. Not all WordPress themes use the description.
The second and most common way to add categories is through the blog post edit page.
Check out the instructions below to see how to do this using the Gutenberg editor:
1. Start a new blog post or edit an existing blog post
2. While you are writing or editing a blog post, you can simply add the category from the Document menu on the right side.
3. On the right side, you will see post settings. Be sure to select “Document” at the top.
4. Look for the “Categories” option and click it. (Usually found about the middle of the menu)
5. Choose the appropriate category or categories or click on the “Add New Category” link to create a new one. You can choose the name and parent category. By default, the name becomes the category slug.
6. Save your post to save your category options. If you are editing a post, you will select the “Update” button to save any changes
Earlier I mentioned that there are two ways to add categories, which is true, but there is a third way to assign a category to a post by using the “Quick Edit” option.
1. Open the “Posts” admin page where you will see all the posts you’ve created on your site.
2. Hover your mouse over the post you wish to assign a category. A new menu will appear with “Edit,” “Quick Edit,” “Trash,” and “View” options.
3. Click on the “Quick Edit” option. A new box opens under the post title
4. Select the categories you want to assign to the post.
5. Save the changes.
How To Add Tags
Just like categories, tags can be created through the Tags admin menu or when writing or editing a post.
To add tags through the Tags admin menu, do the following:
1. Click on the “Tags” menu option under the “Posts” menu on the admin menu.
2. The Tags admin page will display all the tags you currently have on the right side.
3. The left of the Tags admin page will allow you to add them quickly
4. Enter the Tag Name – This is the name that website visitors will see on your website
5. Enter the Tag Slug – This is the URL friendly version of the tag name. For example, the slug for a new tag named ‘fiction’ would be fiction, and the URL to display all posts in that tag would be http://example.com/fiction.
6. Enter the Tag Description – A simple description of the tag is best. If your WordPress theme supports the display of tag description, this is where it originates. But not all WordPress themes use the tag description so don’t worry if you don’t see this as an option.
Okay, now maybe you want to add your tags through the post you’re writing?
As with categories, you can use the “Quick Edit” option to assign tags to a blog post quickly.
The steps are listed below:
1. Start a new blog post or edit an existing blog post
2. While you are writing or editing a blog post, you can simply add the tags from the menu on the right side
3. On the right side, you will see post settings. Be sure “Document” is selected at the top if you’re using the Gutenberg editor.
4. Look for the “Tags” option and click it. (Usually found about the middle of the menu)
5. Type in any tags you wish you in the “Add New Tag” box. If the tag is brand new, WordPress will automatically create it for you
6. Save your post to save your tag options. If you are editing a post, you will select the “Update” button to save any changes
Today, we’ve taken a look at categories and tags – what they are and how to add them to your site to give your readers the best experience possible. They are an essential part of any website. Not only do they help your website visitors find the information they need, but they also help search engines know what your site is about.
Getting a practical but straightforward category and tag plan for your site goes a long way to help organize your content and gives you a head start with search engine optimization.