Categories and Tagging In WordPress

Teli Adlam —  June 12, 2006

This post will automatically have three tags without my needing to do anything other than file it within the necessary categories; Technorati, by default, treats the WordPress categories that you create as tags. For some, this is good enough.

If you’re looking to cover more ground while keeping your blog in some type of working order, then it’s not. You see, tags and categories, although they serve a similar function (to organize), are actually quite different.

Think of your categories as your filing cabinet drawer, and your tags would be the label on each individual file. If you were just to stick all your files without labels into the drawer marked Random Stuff, you’d be hard pressed to easily find the file for your very big and upcoming project unless it’s the only file in there, but then you wouldn’t need a whole drawer, would you?

Using your categories for the sole purpose of having a tag is overkill and can leave your blog visitors confused. Instead, using a combination of tagging and proper categorization seems like an ideal solution.

A rule of thumb for creating a new category is to ask yourself how many times you plan to make a blog entry on a particular subject. If it’s likely to be less than three, use a tag.

When tagging your post, do a quick once over and see what the topic of your post is, any proper names you use, any product names, or anything else that someone may look for when looking for your post.

If you’re using WordPress, there is a plugin which makes tagging infinitely easier called SimpleTags and when you need a little more tagging power, then the Utlimate Tag Warrior plugin will have you covered.

(In case you’re wondering, I use SimpleTags for this blog, but I use UTW for a few other blogs which require more control over internal tagging.)

[tags]ultimate tag warrior, simpletags, simple tags, tags, tagging, organization, blogging[/tags]

Teli Adlam


4 responses to Categories and Tagging In WordPress

  1. Thanks for posting this explanation of WordPress categories and tags. I like how you explain it using the filing cabinet, which makes a lot of sense. Now I will, hopefully, tag my blog entries a lot better and don’t have to worry about double-dipping when it comes to tags and categories.

  2. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for coming by and commenting. I’m glad that the article was able ot clear up the difference between WordPress categories and tags and that it will make you a better tagger. 🙂

  3. Teli,

    Thanks for the insightful article. I DO get confused on categories vs. tags especially since my blog is basically about many things.

    Currently, I have about 20 categories and then for the tags I use simple tags and put in the words that I feel apply.

    Oddly, I always have to add the “category name” as one of the tags though as the plug-in “Related Posts” uses this to determine when articles are similar. For example, if I have a post on golf, then tennis, I put a tag in each called Sports to make them appear under Related Posts.

    I thought that b/c they were in the same category (sports) that this would suffice, but it doesn’t.

    Or…I should do it another way?

  4. I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about using tags and categories, so today I decided to go searching for articles that help us understand that. I liked this one. I’ve included it in the reference list on an upcoming blog.