Categories vs Tags

When I was using Fanupdate to manage my blog (and also back when I used Cutenews) the only option available to me was categories and I had a lot of them, as you can see currently as they came when I imported my Fanupdate posts to WordPress.

WordPress has the option of also tagging posts which is really what I was doing with categories in Fanupdate. Now, I have the choice to use my old catergories as tags and structure my posts more by using categories ‘correctly’.

There are many different opions surrounding the topic – should you attach posts to multiple categories and how many is too many?, what about sub-categories, should I even use tags? Personally I use multiple categories (usually up to three) for both my personal website (this one! – Albiet a work in progress) and the website I maintain where I work as well as tags. I don’t at present use sub-categories.

I use categories for broad grouping of posts, for example all posts related to my personal life are under ‘Personal’ – Genius eh? Whereas at work you may find a category titled with our parent companies name or one of our product groups. I think of categories as general topics or a table of content, to benefit my readers and help them find what they’re looking for. Tags on the other hand I use as a more detailed descripiton of what the post is about, like say I had a personal life post about my pet, I may have several tags for this: Pets, the pets name, a word to describe the situation etc.

In WordPress you must have a category for each post, but you are not required to add any tags. Fair enough, but I feel that tags are just as important, when I’m browsing around a site or a blog and see a post with “News” as the category then I may skip on by but if I see tags used to describe what that news post may be about it draws me in as a reader! Another example would be say you had a category called “Books” – OK, I like LOVE books but may skip it or just read a few lines, but with the addition of tags, such as ‘Romance’ or the books name and I’ll likely rad on. ๐Ÿ™‚ – I also have a thing for tag clouds. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tags are also useful in helping a reader find posts on similar topics.

As I said, getting my tags and categories sorted for this site (to help me as well as you) is a work in progress. ๐Ÿ™‚

How do you use categories/tags? Or do you not bother lol – What about Search Engine Optimisation? – Do you think it has that much of an affect on this?