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WordPress Tags and Categories: Which is Better?

TechWelkin publishes helpful WordPress tips for you!
Samyak Lalit | March 7, 2012 (Last update: September 23, 2017)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

“On my WordPress blog, should I use tags or categories or both or none?”, this has been an often asked question ever since blogosphere began to rapidly expand and blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger came into thick of popularity.

Professional bloggers are very much interested in making their blogs Search Engine Optimized (or SEO friendly as they call it). Organization of content in your blog matters a great deal if you see from the SEO viewpoint. WordPress has two methods of content organization, namely tags and categories. And it has been a matter of great debate as to which of these is better?

This is the million dollar question that puzzles most of the WordPress webmasters. I was no exception. But, after a lot of research, now I am declaring my verdict:

Categories are better. Period.

TechWelkin publishes helpful WordPress tips for you!

TechWelkin publishes helpful WordPress tips for you!

I know, your next question would be: “why?”… so, let me answer it right away.

Categories are, you see, categories! These are meant for organizing a heap of content into a meaningful hierarchy. Whereas tags are… well… tags! They are not really supposed to give a hierarchical arrangement to your content.

Analogically, categories are like table of content (TOC) in an MS Word document or in a book… And tags are like word index given at the end of the book. No doubt, both, TOC and index, have their own use in case of a book. But here we are considering categories and tags from SEO standpoint.

  • Categories are for broad organization while tags can do micro-grouping of posts. But as you know most blogs are equipped with search facilities –so tags lose their importance on this account. Users will search for the term they are looking for and find the exact content. Bloggers don’t need to take it upon themselves to attach each pieces of post with tags.
  • People hardly use tags for navigation. Categories arranged as breadcrumb trail are preferred method.
  • It is difficult to manage tags. Bloggers are likely to go overboard in creating tags because tags are intuitively not used for organization. Tags are just for tagging. So, people go on tagging and may tag too much.
  • Attaching tags with a post takes significantly more time because there could be endless number of tags that can be attached to a post.
  • Google and other search engines have become intelligent enough to find what your post is about even if you don’t tag it.
  • Google can extract keywords or tags from a post on its own. Therefore, so far as SEO is concerned –tags don’t play much useful role.
  • And then of course you have META keywords to push tags into it –if you are not so sure about Google’s intelligence. Although, Google no longer considers META keywords.

That was about why you should prefer categories over tags. Some people also tend to use both tags and categories! This could be a result of inability to decide which one to use OR this could just be a safe play mechanism for such bloggers. But having both tags and categories on your blog could lead to a potential problem of unintentional content duplication.

I have decided to go with categories in my blogs. I find using categories a much better way to organize my content. What do you think about it? Please let me know!


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