Categories and Tag Pages

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Categories vs Tags – SEO Best Practices for Sorting your Content

Our readers frequently asked us what is better for SEO: categories vs tags?

You cannot be sure what exactly the categories and tags of WordPress are and how they differ. Knowing this, you can use them correctly.

In this article, we’ll talk about the difference between categories and tags in the arrangement of your content and how they can affect your SEO ranking.

Things to Keep In Mind

What’s the Difference Between Categories and Tags?

Categories are designed to broadly group your posts. Think of it as a general chapter or table of contents for your WordPress site. Categories are hierarchical, which means you can create subcategories.

Tags are intended to describe the specific details of your posts. Think of them as index words for your site. They allow you to micro-categorize your content. Tags are not hierarchical.

For instance, this WPBeginner blog post is in our Beginner’s Guide category. You can see all posts in this category by going to the Blog »Beginner’s Guide in our navigation menu.

This post contains tags: categories, categories vs tags, custom taxonomy, seo, seo best practices, sorting your content, and tags.

You won’t find these tags displaying anywhere on our article. However, they would enable the users to find this article in related searches on our blog.

The biggest difference between tags and categories is that all WordPress posts must be entered in the same category, but there is no need to have a tag.

If you do not assign a category to your post, WordPress will automatically assign a category to it by default. This is known as “Uncategorized”, but it’s often useful to rename the “uncategorized” category to something like “Other” or “Miscellaneous”.

Remember that by default; only blog posts have categories and tags in WordPress. However, you can also include categories and tags to your WordPress pages using the plugin.

How Can You Add Categories and Tags in WordPress?

You can add categories and tags to WordPress while creating or editing posts. You will see them on the right-hand side under the ‘Document’ settings.

You can also go to Posts » Categories and Posts » Tags to add new categories and tags.

To learn more about the process of adding categories and tags, see Our explanation of “what a category is.” “What is a tag?” In order to get help and guidance.

How Many WordPress Categories Should You Have?

There is no specific number of categories that you must have. In most cases, you want 5 to 10 to correctly categorize your posts and make browsing your site easier.

Categories should include a wide group of posts. Sub-categories and tags can be used to split your posts into smaller groups.

If you have just started a blog, don’t worry about trying to make the perfect list of categories. Just pick 3 to 5 broad categories and add more eventually

Break it Down

What Are The Different Types Of SEO?

At Syndiket, we believe four types of SEO exist – and we have an acronym to represent those 4 types of SEO. The acronym is T.R.A.P. 

“T” stands for Technical, “R” stands for Relevancy, “A” stands for Authority, and “P” stands for popularity. Search engine optimization has many smaller divisions within the 4 types, but all of them can be placed into one of these 4 buckets.

Generally, technical SEO for local businesses carry the least importance for ranking. Technical SEO has a bare minimum that is required and this usually includes things like site speed, indexation issues, crawlability, and schema. Once the core technical parts are done, minimal upkeep is required.

Relevancy is one of trivium elements of SEO. It has equal importance with popularity signals and authority signals. Relevancy signals are based on algorithmic learning principles. Bots crawl the internet every time a searcher has a search. Each search is given a relevancy score and the URLs that pop up for a query. The higher the relevancy score you attain, the greater your aggregated rating becomes in Google’s eyes. Digital marketing is a strange thing in 2020, and ranking a website requires the website to be relevant on many fronts.

Google’s Co-creator, Larry Page, had a unique idea in 1998 which has led to the modern-day Google Empire. “Page Rank”, named after Larry Page himself, was the algorithm that established Google as a search engine giant. The algorithm ranked websites by authority. 

Every page of a website has authority and the sum of all pages has another authority metric. The authority metric is largely determined by how many people link to them (backlinks). The aggregate score of all pages pointing to a domain creates the domain score, which is what Syndiket calls “Domain Rating”, per Ahrefs metrics. The more a site is referenced, the more authority it has. But, the real improvement to the algorithm came when Google began to classify authority weight. 

If Tony Hawk endorsed Syndiket for skateboarding, it would carry a lot more authority than 5 random high school kids endorsing Syndiket. This differentiation in authority happened in 2012 with the Penguin update. Authority SEO is complicated but VERY important.

Popularity signals are especially strong for GMB or local SEO, but popularity and engagement are used for all rankings. The goal of this signal is for Google to verify its own algorithm. You can check off all the boxes, but if your content is something real people hate, Google has ways to measure that. Syndiket has proprietary methods of controlling CTR (click-through rate) but we also infuse CRO methods into our work to make sure people actually like the content. Social shares and likes are also included in this bucket.

Do I Have to Use Sub-Categories?

You do not need to use subcategories and many large blogs (including WPBeginner). However, subcategories are useful if you have a large category with a large number of posts that can be divided into smaller sections.

For example, you might have a “recipe” category that includes an increasing number of gluten-free foods.

You can make for these posts their own sub-category, so readers would find them easily. You create a new child category for “Recipes” called “Gluten-Free” and shift these posts into that category.

Using Categories in Your Posts’ URLs

Sites usually use the Category name in permalinks (post URLs), which you can set up under Settings » Permalinks.

If this is the case with your site, then your post will initially have a URL something like this:

…/recipes/gluten-free-pancakes/

After transferring the post to a child category, it’ll have a new URL:

…/recipes/gluten-free/gluten-free-pancakes/

Usually, WordPress tries to redirect the old URL to the new one. It is definitely worth checking that your links are still working. If necessary, you can redirect 301 from the old URL to the new.

Another option is to save the post in the parent category along with the child category, but there may be disadvantages.

Although there are categories in the URL of the WPBeginner website, we always suggest users to use a shorter URL structure that contains only the “post name”.

This will give you maximum flexibility while rearranging your content without worrying about setting up redirects.

We are using the modern post name URL structure for all our new websites. WPBeginner is over 10 years old, so it has a legacy URL structure and it is not recommended for SEO to change the URL structure, which is why we are stuck with it.

Can I Assign One Post to Multiple Categories?

With the help of WordPress you would be able to post in several categories. It can be several parent categories or a parent category, as well as a subcategory or subcategories.

Having a large number of categories won’t benefit your SEO. You should only put posts to multiple categories if it is sensible for your readers.

It is possible that duplicate content can cause some SEO problems due to the fact that your posts are in several categories.

If you use multiple categories, try not to post in two or more parent categories. Each post should fit into one main category.

Is There a Limit to How Many Tags a Post Can Have?

WordPress itself does not have a limit on the number of tags that you can tag in each post. You can assign 1000 or more tags to a message.

However, we surely don’t suggest that.

The purpose of tags is to assist link related posts together. Think of them as a table of content section in a book. Each tag is like a keyword in the index.

Tags are useful for users who search on your site. Some plugins that display similar posts use tags to find out which topics are related.

We generally recommend placing a maximum of 10 tags per post.

Categories vs Tags: What’s Better for SEO?

Does WordPress SEO have the benefits of using tags or vice versa?

To be honest the short answer is no.

Categories and tags have different goals. You must use categories, but you do not need to use tags if you do not want to. However, we suggest that you use both to help readers navigate your site.

However at the end, you must design your site for users. All search engines want to show users the content that will be most useful to them.

This means that organizing your content for the best usability will help you achieve a better SEO ranking.

We hope this article helped you understand the categories and tags, as well as the best SEO practices for sorting your content. You might like our article to track analytics for WordPress categories and tags, as well as our comparison of the best keyword research tools for SEO.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our YouTube channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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