Categories vs Tags: Knowing When To Use Each One
One of the simplest, but often most confusing things about WordPress is the Categories vs Tags feature. They are taxonomies (a fancy word for classifications) and their purpose is to sort your content for improved usability of your site.
What’s a Category?
A category is used to create groups of content that fit into the primary topics of your site. This helps readers find the type of content they are looking for on your site. If you have a food blog, your categories may be something like- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, Snacks. Each post you have would typically fall under one of these categories.
Features of Categories:
- They are hierarchal, so you can have a parent category and sub-categories.
- If you do not define the category, it defaults into “Uncategorized.”
What’s a Tag?
A tag is used to group related post together. ( See the confusion?) The difference is that a tag is used to narrow down a category even farther. If we stick with the food blog example and you have your categories of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, Snacks; then your tag would break it down further. For example, in your ‘Dinner’ category you could break it down with tags even further with ‘chicken,’ ‘beef,’ etc.
Features of a Tag:
- Used for specific subjects or series
- Are not hierarchal
- Are optional
You can also view this as Categories being your ‘Table of Contents’ and Tags being your ‘Index’. The purpose of both Categories and Tags is to help your user navigate effectively through your site. You should avoid ‘tag-stuffing’ and creating a plethora of categories. It doesn’t help your user at all when they are overwhelmed by them. Your goal should be to create an ease of navigation and usability.
Need more? Check out the difference in Pages vs Post