While updating my posts after my website was hacked, I thought a lot about categories vs tags and how best to use them. As I was essentially starting from scratch I had time (and the motivation) to research how best to use them both for my readers to navigate my website better and for SEO.
What are categories?
Categories are used like a contents page for your website and designed as a broad grouping of posts. For example all posts related to my ‘lifestyle’ are under ‘Lifestyle‘ – Genius eh? Whereas at work you may find a category titled with our parent companies name or one of our product groups. Categories are there to benefit your readers and help them find what they’re looking for.
It’s worth noting that categories are hierarchical, meaning you can add sub-categories.
Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. Think of these as general topics or the table of contents for your site. Categories are there to help identify what your blog is really about. It is to assist readers finding the right type of content on your site.
Categories are hierarchical, so you can have sub-categories.
What are tags?
Tags are a more detailed descripiton of what the post is about. For example I may have a lifestyle post about my pet, the post would be categorised under ‘lifestyle’ and I may chose ‘pets’ as a sub-category.
I would then use tags to provide more detail like the pets name, the breed or species, a word to describe the situation I’m writing about etc.
Tags are not hierarchical.
Which is better for SEO?
There are many different opinions out in the blogosphere surrounding the topic but the honest answer is neither (or both). Categories and tags are used for different reasons and are there to help structure your website – this structure is what has an affect on SEO.
- Should you use multiple categories for your posts, and how many is too many?
- What about sub-categories?
- Should you even use tags?
The answer? – What would help your readers?
Personally I use one category for each post and some sub-categories. For example my ‘Food and Drink‘ category is broken down into the sub-categories ‘Product Reviews‘, ‘Recipes‘ and ‘Restaurant Reviews‘. I also use tags.
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 website or a blog and see a post with “News” as the category then I may skip on by as (other than the title which may be vague) I have no idea what news I’ll be reading about. 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 ‘Horror’ or the books name and I’ll give the post a click. 🙂
Tags are also useful in helping a reader find posts on similar topics.
How do you use categories/tags? What about Search Engine Optimisation? – Do you think it has that much of an affect on this?