Understanding Categories and Tags in WordPress

by | Jun 28, 2024 | 500 - 1000 words, Website Copy

Improving Your Blog Search Functionality

When you start blogging with WordPress, one of the first things you’ll encounter is the option to organise your content using Categories and Tags. These tools are essential for keeping your blog organised and helping readers find related content. But what exactly are Categories and Tags, and how do they differ? Let’s dive in and clarify how to use them effectively. 

What Are Categories?

Categories are broad, hierarchical groupings for your blog posts. Think of them as the table of contents for your blog. They help you organise your content into major topics or sections. Here’s a closer look at how categories work: 

  1. Broad Topics: Categories are meant to encompass broad topics. For example, if you have a food blog, you might have Categories like “Recipes,” “Restaurant Reviews,” and “Cooking Tips.”
  2. Hierarchical Structure: Categories can have subcategories. For instance, under “Recipes,” you could have subcategories like “Desserts,” “Main Courses,” and “Appetizers.”
  3. Mandatory: Every WordPress post must be assigned to at least one Category. If you don’t assign a Category, WordPress will automatically place your post in the default Category, typically called “Uncategorised.” 

What Are Tags? 

Tags are more specific, non-hierarchical keywords or phrases that describe specific details of your posts. They help you micro-categorise your content, making it easier for readers to find posts with similar themes or topics. Here’s how Tags function: 

  1. Specific Details: Tags highlight specific aspects of your posts. For example, a post in the “Recipes” Category might have Tags like “vegan,” “quick meals,” or “gluten-free.”
  2. Non-Hierarchical: Unlike Categories, Tags don’t have a hierarchical structure. They are flat, meaning each Tag stands alone without any parent-child relationship.
  3. Optional: Adding Tags to your posts is optional. They are there to enhance searchability and organisation but are not required for every post. 

When to Use Categories 

– Organising Broad Topics: Use Categories to group posts into broad topics or sections. This helps readers navigate your site more easily.

– Creating a Clear Structure: Categories are ideal for creating a clear and logical structure for your blog. This is especially useful for blogs with a wide range of content. 

When to Use Tags 

– Highlighting Specific Details: Use Tags to highlight specific details or themes within a post. This allows readers to find content related to their interests more easily.

– Enhancing Searchability: Tags improve the searchability of your blog. Readers can click on a Tag to see all posts associated with that keyword or phrase. 

How to Use Categories and Tags Effectively 

  1. Plan Your Categories: Before you start blogging, plan your main Categories. Think about the primary topics you’ll cover and create Categories that reflect these themes.
  2. Limit the Number of Categories: Don’t create too many Categories. A large number of Categories can make your blog look cluttered. Aim for a manageable number that covers your main topics.
  3. Use Tags Liberally: Feel free to use multiple Tags for each post. Tags are meant to be flexible and can help readers find related content across different Categories.
  4. Be Consistent: Consistency is key. Use the same Tags for similar content to ensure that posts are properly grouped and easy to find.
  5. Review and Update: Regularly review your Categories and Tags to ensure they still align with your content. As your blog grows, you might need to add new Categories or Tags or refine existing ones. 


To illustrate how Categories and Tags work, let’s consider a travel blog: 

– Categories:

  – Destinations

  – Travel Tips

  – Food and Drink

  – Adventure Travel 

– Tags for a Post on Italian Cuisine in Rome:

  – Italian food

  – Rome

  – Restaurants

  – Travel tips

  – Authentic cuisine 

Understanding the difference between Categories and Tags in WordPress is essential for organising your blog effectively. Categories provide a broad structure, helping readers navigate your main topics, while Tags offer a way to highlight specific details and themes. By using both strategically, you can enhance your blog’s organisation, improve searchability, and provide a better experience for your readers.