About Categories and Tags

The main purpose of categories and tags is to improve the usability of your site, by letting a visitor browse through your content by topic rather than browsing chronologically (which is how blogs were initially set up).

A secondary purpose is to help your post be found by search engines, when someone wants information but has no idea who you are or that you’ve posted exactly the answer they are looking for.

A tag cloud: several words of different sizes

Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts, like a table of contents.  Categories can have sub-categories — they are hierarchical.

Tags are meant to describe specific details of your posts.  They are like a post’s keywords (not in the SEO sense of the word) that you can use to loosely relate your posts – like in the tag cloud or site search.  Tags form the index of your website as though it were a book.

Every post must have a category, even “uncategorized,” whereas tagging a post is optional.


  • Authors often rename the uncategorized category to something like Other, Ramblings, Misc. etc.
  • Blogs evolve: there is no way you can come up with all the right categories from the start.  Still, imagine your site after being up and running for several months: what posts does it have?  How will visitors find the content they want?  Choose five generic catgories to start with and add more as your blog evolves.
  • This author suggests starting with top categories that have generic, future-proof meanings, then use tags to identify specific topics that may fall in and out of favor over time.
  • Use the Redirection plugin if your category renaming will affect existing posts’s URL’s.
  • If you find you often want to assign your posts to more than one category, consider restructuring your categories.
  • Categories should distribute your posts well.  If a single category holds 90% of your posts, you probably need new or different categories.
  • Choose categories that highlight the content you want to promote.  In my case, I hope to help others to learn WordPress, so I’ve chosen (sub) categories based on my ideas of the aspects of website development using WordPress.
  • A good rule of thumb is assign no more than 10 tags to each post unless you have a good reason.
  • WordPress will automatically list a post’s category and tags in the post’s byline.  The category name and tag names are linked to browse similarly categorized and tagged posts.
  • The Tag Cloud widget shows your most popular tags sorted alphabetically and sized in proportion to their usage.  I like this use of visual cues.  This post’s image shows this website’s tag cloud just before I added this post.

Remember your purpose in choosing categories and keywords is usability: to organize your website content to help your visitor find the information she seeks.


My WordPress book, WordPress, the Missing Manual, has an excellent description on how to choose good categories on p. 109.

Using categories and tags to organize your content.  This author, Syed Balkhi, has an easy-to-understand writing style, seems to keep his content up to date and I like the level of detail provided.  Each article includes links to his other related articles.  I found his articles when I searched for answers to my questions.

Even going back to what appears to be his parent article, Beginner’s Guide for WordPress, in case that’s where you want to start, the content is not an introduction to WordPress but his latest WordPress articles.  It’s as though he has read my mind, as March 29th’s article is “How to Create a Contact Form in WordPress (Step by Step).”  Of course I want to know how to do that … from my experience creating non-WordPress websites.

He loses credibility in my eyes though, with his footer ad “WPBeginner users Get a Free Domain and 50% off Bluehost Web Hosting.” Don’t get me started.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *