Categories vs. Tags: Improve Your Blog’s SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the keys to your blog’s success. Many factors influence SEO, and Google continually updates its algorithm to focus on quality as a top priority. Quality content is the key to success in building an audience, and when Google must decide between your blog and a competitor’s blog, categories and tags in WordPress can be the deciding factor. Let’s explore categories vs. tags.

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What are blog categories and tags?

You have many good reasons too start a blog this year. It is an excellent way to express your creativity or help you build a business. If you are a business, a website is essential, and a blog can help you build an audience and establish yourself as an authority in your industry. When you are planning your blog, you need to consider basic SEO and how you will promote your blog from the beginning.

Many beginning bloggers are excited to get started, and they want to start posting articles as quickly as possible. WordPress makes this easy and the new Gutenberg editor makes it even easier. It is as easy as opening up a new blog post, inserting a picture, and writing. You can have your blog posted in a very short time, but before you hit “Publish,” let’s take some time to explore those fields on the right-hand side of the page.

You can publish a blog without assigning the blog a category or tagged, but this is not a good idea for many reasons. Categories are like file folders and help you organize your content. They also give your readers an overview of what your website is about, and it helps them find what they need quickly. It does not take long for uncategorized posts to drop off the radar and never be found again.

If you want to increase blog traffic, the categories you intend to use need to be built into the architecture of your blog from the beginning. Tags are another way to group content in WordPress. Before you go any further, it is a good idea to understand how categories and tags work.

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What is the difference between tags and categories?

At this point, it may seem like categories and tags are two ways to do the accomplish the same task, make your content easy to navigate for your readers, but they have another purpose, too. What is the purpose of post category and tags for SEO? When someone makes a search request, Google scans your page to decide if it is a good match. If you did not fill out the category and tag information, then all it has to go on are your headers and text. It places a priority on the title, headers, the first paragraph, and then it looks for categories and tags on your website to see if they are a match.

Categories and tags are only one of the considerations that Google uses to rank your website, and they might not make your website move up significantly in the search results, but they can help you beat your competition. One difference between categories and tags is that your blog can appear in two or three categories. There are several different reasons why you might want to do this for SEO purposes.

Let’s say that you wrote an article about a new alternative energy product that will revolutionize the industry. You might want this blog to appear in the alternative energy category, and you also might want it to appear in the news category. This way readers searching for the latest news will stumble upon the article, and those who are looking for a specific topic in alternative energy will find it, too. The advantage is that your reader will have more ways to find your article and access the information.

How to improve your blog: categories vs. tags

A screenshot of WordPress's category vs. tag options
A screenshot of WordPress’s category vs. tag options

When deciding whether to use categories or tags to help readers find your blog, it is important to keep your structure in mind. You can easily add a new category to your blog every time you make a post, and you can tie several subcategories to parent categories. Without a clear plan for structuring your categories before you begin blogging, you can quickly end up with a blog that looks like that unorganized garage you have been meaning to get to for the past several months.

It is easy to go crazy adding categories without a sense of direction, and this will drop your search engine ranks and make it more difficult for your readers to find the information they want. Organization is the key. For instance, you might have a category that is called alternative energy. Under that, you might have subcategories that include solar energy, fuel cell technology, and windmills.

It is important to keep these categories organized and the subcategories structured so that they clearly tie to a parent category. One of the caveats with categories is that WordPress has a way of handling them by default, and this can drop your SEO. One of the ways you can do this is to install the Yoast SEO plug-in. once you have installed the plug in, you can go to the search appearance area on the Yoast dashboards and switch the setting to the “taxonomies” tab.

Some Category and Tag FAQs

Are tags good for SEO? Tags work much in the same way categories do when it comes to organizing your content. Many people use tags in a random manner that is unstructured. It is easy to see why you would want to structure categories, but with tags, bloggers tend to scatter them around like confetti. The downside to this approach is that many of the tags only get used once, which means that they do not have a lot of power when it comes to search engine rank position.

The key to using tags properly is to develop a structure and decide which tags should be associated with which categories and which blog posts under those categories. When you use tags in a structured way that supports the categories and topic of the blog, they can be a help in boosting your search rank.

How many tags should I use? In a perfect world, you would use about 8 to 10 categories to organize your content. You should then include some tags that are relevant to that category and post. You can think of categories as being more general and tags as being more specific topics related to the blog post. Technically, you can add as many tags as you wish to a blog post, but you need to know that posts that use more than 15 tags and categories combined will be considered spam and harm your SEO significantly.

What are some blog tags examples? Let’s say your blog has the category trees. For each post in this category, you might have tags that include elms, elm leaves, elm diseases, elms in landscape, elm fertilization. Generally, about four or five tags is recommended for optimal SEO.

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In Conclusion

As you can see, combining categories and tags is a powerful way to boost your SEO, but if not handled correctly, it can drop your ranking quickly. When it comes to categories vs. tags the answer is that both are important for your SEO, but you have to understand how to use each of them correctly. The most important Thing for a beginning Blogger is not to ignore the panel at the right side of the screen before you Publish your post.

Chris Craft

Follower of Jesus. Husband. Father. Founder of InspireFirst and Nao Media.