Why it’s important to use tags & categories on your blog

It’s Thursday so once again I’m doing a Blogger Series post.  Today’s topic is all about the use of Tags and Categories on your blog posts.

Blogger Series: Why it's important to use tags and categories on your blog

What are tags?

Tags are micro-data that describe details of your blog post.  They are usually short, often just a single word or a phrase.

They should not be confused with “keywords”.  While tags can be keywords, keywords should be featured in your title, your blog content and not just consigned to the tags.

Tags can be good for SEO as they are used to create indexable and rankable pages.

 

Unlike keywords, tags work better when the same tags are used multiple times across your blog.  Whereas overusing keywords in a blog post can actually have a negative effect on your SEO.

Do I need to use tags?

In truth, you don’t NEED to use them, however, if done well they can help you in regards to search engine ranking.

Because each tag becomes an indexed page, you open up additional pathways for people to find your posts.  Always a bonus!

As mentioned, it’s all about using tags well to gain the benefit.  Take some time to research your tags and see what works.  Find tags that are good and use them in all the relevant posts.  Consistency is what you’re going for.

If you feel you might do more harm than good with tags, then stick to just a few or leave them off.  Good solid content and use of keywords in the blog copy can be enough to drive traffic and effect SEO ranking.  Tagging can assist with that if done with care.

How do I add tags?

When you are creating a blog post, over on the right-hand side there is a section called Categories and Tags.  Expand this and there will be a box for tags.

Type in your tags using commas to break them up.  For example Blogging tips, blogger series, blogging tags, blogging categories, blogger advice.  When those phrases are added to the box, they will appear like this:

Image of blog tags

As you type, existing tags you’ve used before will appear as suggestions, helping you to choose the same (relevant) tags for your post.

How many tags should I add?

It is recommended that you use no more than 15 tags on a WordPress blog post.  However, don’t try and aim for that.  Let it happen organically.  As a minimum, I recommend at least 4.

By keeping the number of tags to a manageable level, you have better control over using repeat tags.

Tags should assist you, so think about what you want to include as a tag.

 

What are categories?

Categories are just a method of organising your content.  This makes it easier for readers to find posts on specific topics.

It can be quicker and easier than using the search bar, and you want visitors to locate relevant posts fast.

 

Do I need to use categories?

I personally think using categories is great.  Especially as your blog gets bigger and you create more content, having organised groups for your topics becomes more important.

Like with tags, if used well, categories can really help your blog.  The main thing is to really consider what sort of categories to create.

Consider the sort of topics you write about, can these be categorised?  Make a list of several categories your posts can fit in.

You really want them to mostly be in one specific top-level category rather than featured in multiple categories.  Think about a few of your articles, what is the one word you would think to describe that article?

Category names can be long but they need to be clear what topics they group.

For example, here is a list of some of my categories:

Image of blog categories

I write numerous topics that fall under these categories, allowing me to group them together.

So, those readers wanting to find my Monday Marketing articles can simply click on the Marketing Category and it will bring up all those posts.

Do take time to work out your categories.  Even now, I have made changes, added some, removed others.  You don’t want a lot of categories you either don’t use or that will only ever group just a few articles. 

If that happens, consider combining two categories.

 

How do I add Categories?

As with the tags, the section is on the right-hand side when you are writing a blog post.  There is a search bar that allows you to search for a category (though it’s advisable not to have so many you need to use the search bar to locate them, just scroll).

There is also a button for Adding new Category.  This allows you to create a new Top level category, or de-select that option in which case, a list of your existing categories will appear for you to choose a Parent Category (see below).

Image: new category section on blog showing Top level and choosing parent

How many should I add?

Don’t go crazy.  As mentioned above, don’t create categories for a barely written about topics.

Use broad terms to allow for a bigger umbrella.  For example, I have a health category.  This can include both physical and mental health articles I discuss.  I don’t need to separate these out, especially as I don’t write about them as much as other topics.

You can always include a “general” or “misc” category for anything that doesn’t fit.  However, so far I think most of my articles have fitted nicely into the non-general category.  Which is what I prefer.

Though I have used “general” in the past to allow me time while I am making changes to my categories.

If possible, think carefully about your categories early on.  It’s a bit of a nightmare making big changes to them and then having to go back through old posts and amend their connected category.

To all my blogger friends, do you use categories and / or tags? 

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I hope you found this useful, if so do please consider sharing it around on social media using the buttons below. 

If you are new to blogging and want to ask me any questions, drop me a comment below or go to my Contact page.

All my Blogger Series articles are now listed under my tutorial page for easy reference. 

I’ll be back tomorrow, see you then.

Happy writing

Ari

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24 thoughts on “Why it’s important to use tags & categories on your blog

  1. Hi Ari, I’ve just discovered your blog through Lorraine Amber’s blog.

    Yes, I use both tags and categories. I can never understand why some bloggers use ‘uncategorised’ as a category. It’s so un-helping to visitors if they read a brilliant post and then try finding similar posts only to find that the post is ‘uncategorised.’

    I have read that using no more than six tags actually brings in more traffic to your blog because it won’t confuse the search engines as much as to what the post is about. When I first read that, I didn’t think it would work. However, the number of hits my blog has had from ‘search engines’ since I stopped using more than six tags has skyrocketed.

    • Hi Hugh, thanks for the comment. Yes, categories are so important. Dumping everything under Misc or General or Uncategorised is extremely unhelpful.

      That’s great about the 6 tags. I may have to do some tests on some of my posts and reduce down. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • You’re very welcome, Ari.

        BTW – when I tried to tweet your post, I noticed that you have not linked up your blog to your Twitter account as I had to type in your Twitter details for credit of the post on the tweet (otherwise it gives credit to @wordpress.com). Many readers won’t share a post on Twitter if the author of the post hasn’t linked up their Twitter account to their blog, so it’s something you may like to do. When I linked mine up, I got a heap load of traffic to my blog from Twitter. Just something to think about. 😀

      • Hi Hugh, thanks for letting me know, I was sure I had fixed this problem as it was mentioned to me before. I will go investigate! Thanks 😀

    • I’m so glad you found Ari’s site. 😊

      I completely agree with you Hugh, I removed the uncategorised option because it’s vague and unhelpful to my audience.

      Great tip on the tags, I’m going to give it a try. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the comment, Suzanne. I know what you mean. I am STILL making amendments to my 300 posts, clearing up tags and categories.

      lol wish I had thought about them more carefully when I first started. 😀

  2. I have to go through my categories. They’ve become a mess. I remember when I first started blogging I used to throw tags around because I thought the more meant more people would see my post. Some of my really old posts have about 50 or so tags attached to them, lol.

    • I know what you mean, I was the same. So many of my posts have over 20 tags. Now I am slowly clearing through them.

      I think your categories always looked good. I barely used categories at the beginning and I’m paying the price now!

      • There needs to be a blogging class when you sign up for a site so you don’t have to go through posts 6 years later and rio your hair out, lol.

      • Yes!!! When annoyed me is when I started blogging, I checked out a few pages about what to do and they didn’t cover anything about categories, tags, URL slugs or even alt-text.

        Oh well, learning curve and I like to think we are doing our part to help the next gen of bloggers 😀

      • Alt-text was something I just recently learned about, too. The learning curve isn’t all that bad though. I like teaching myself things. It makes me feel “smarter” in a way, lol.

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