Use WordPress Categories and Tags effectively

Using WordPress Categories and Tags Effectively

In one of our previous blog articles we wrote about the importance of user experience. Categories and tags are an important factor in user experience, as they make navigating your WordPress site easier and may even convince your reader to stay longer and read more content from the same category.

Understanding categories and tags

It is advisable to organise your content by topic, like ‘digital marketing’, ‘startup advice’, ‘tech news’ etc. These topics will be the names of your categories. Although there is no magic number of categories you should have, it would be a good idea to keep it low at first. If you find yourself adding a new category every time you start a blog post there may be a problem.

Try to stay focused on a limited number of related topics – it’s impossible to be an expert on everything. Instead of adding new categories try keeping categories very broad and introduce sub-categories that are more specific to keep things organised.  For instance, in your ‘marketing’ category you could have subcategories called ‘marketing tools’, ‘digital marketing’, ‘marketing book reviews’ etc.

It’s recommended to have only one category for each blog post, as the same posts coming up in different categories will be treated by search engines as duplicate content. If you feel you absolutely need to assign your article to several categories you will have to tell Google and Bing which page you want to be indexed by using rel=canonical link.

If you assign several categories to your post, you will have to tell Google which one to index Click To Tweet

Tags work differently as unlike categories they don’t have a hierarchy.

They should always be a lot more specific than categories, think of them as keywords that your target audience is likely to type into a search engine and make it easier for them to find your post.

While you don’t have to use tags at all, it’s a must to categorise your posts, as otherwise they will end up in the default category called ‘uncategorised’ that isn’t very likely to attract any reader’s attention. Do try to come up with another name for this default category, like ‘Miscellaneous’ or ‘Random’ or whatever suits the character of your site.

Categories, tags and SEO

tagsJoost de Valk, the creator of popular WordPress SEO plugin Yoast recommends treating category archives like landing pages providing the best customer experience and making sure they come up on top in the search results.

He also points out that having category pages rank for a particular keyword will prevent your individual posts from competing against each other for the same keyword.  You can then optimise your individual pages to rank for more specific terms, which are represented by the tags.

De Valk also recommends adding some introductory content to the category pages pointing the reader towards the most popular articles in order to compel your website visitors to spend more time browsing and reading your content.

But most importantly you should never use the same keyword for both category and tag.

Whereas you can use as many tags as you wish, bear in mind that too many tags will look spammy and won’t provide any value to you or your reader.

To conclude, when trying to decide which categories and tags to use rely on common sense and think in terms of making your website or blog more user friendly. When used correctly they should make your customer’s user experience pleasant, while also giving you an opportunity to showcase as much of your content as possible.

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About the Author

Digital marketer, writer with an interest in marketing technology, cyber security, entrepreneurship and culture.