What are tags and categories?
How do they work?
What are the best tags and categories to use on a blog post?
How do you make the categories and tags you’re using on your blog posts more influential?
WordPress offers two different ways to organise blog posts; Categories and Tags. And every blogger should be using them.
What are categories?
Categories act like groups where blog posts that have a connection with each other are stored.
For example, if you’re a travel blogger, you could have a category called The United Kingdom, of which you could list the sub-categories – Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
Every blog post should have at least one category.
Categories are important because they make finding specific blog posts easier to find for visitors to your blog (especially first-time visitors).
Let’s say I’ve just read a blog post you published about your Grandmother’s recipe for the world’s best apple pie.
I want to find out if you’ve published other recipes for pies, and search for a recipe category.
Unfortunately, you don’t have one, or you don’t categorise any of your posts (so they all fall under ‘uncategorised’).
I could search for the information (if you have a search bar on your blog), but I want to check out all your pie recipe posts, not just one.
The only option I now have is to scroll through all your posts looking for pie recipes that may interest me.
I don’t have enough time to do that, so I’ll probably search for pie recipes elsewhere.
It’s likely that I’ll never return to visit your blog because you don’t categorise your blog posts.
Adding a category to your blog post is simple to do.
How to add a category to your blog post
- While drafting a blog post, you’ll see a toolbar on the righthand side of the page.
- This is where you can add categories.
For more information about adding categories to your blog, click here.
It’s also a good idea to do some housekeeping of the categories you have on your blog.
For example, delete categories that are no longer being used. Update categories and give them a new name if you think something works better.
How to maintain the categories on your blog
- On the dashboard of your blog, click on Manage and Settings.
- On the Settings page, click on Writing.
- Click anywhere inside the ‘Categories‘ box.
- A page will appear showing all the categories you have and how many blog posts are stored under each one.
Any sub-categories will show under each category.
- To edit, delete, view posts or set a category as your default category, click on the three vertical dots next to the number.
You may have noticed in one of the above images that I have set my default category to ‘uncategorised.’ Doing this makes it easy for me to search for any blog posts I’ve not categorised.
What about adding tags?
Like categories, tags can be added to blog posts in the toolbar that appears on the right hand side of a draft post.
Generally, tags do not need to have a connection with each other but, when used correctly, can generate lots of extra traffic to a blog post.
Tags act as the keywords you think somebody would add to the WordPress search bar when looking for specific blog posts.
For example, somebody searching for blogging tips may add ‘blogging’, ‘blogging tips’, blogging advice’ blogging help’ in the search bar.
When adding tags to your blog post, think of words you would use if searching for the post.
Check out the tags I’ve added for this blog post. They appear at the end of the post.
Each tag should be separated with a comma or by pushing ‘Enter’ on your keyboard.
Important information – Did you know this…?
The cardinal rule of tagging on WordPress.com is you should never add more than a total of 15 tags and categories (combined) to your post; otherwise, it won’t show up in the WordPress Reader.
This cap is used to keep out spam blogs — it means that you need to ensure that your tags are only those that are most relevant to your post.
Don’t tag your blog post with words that have nothing to do with the subject of the post.
15 tags is still a lot, but you don’t need to use all of them.
As a general rule, I add no more than three categories and between six and eight tags to my blog posts.
Tags containing more than one word (such as ‘Blogging tips’) act as one tag word.
As with categories, it’s essential to also do some housekeeping of the tags you’ve used on your blog.
How to delete and update tags
- As we did earlier with categories, on the dashboard of your blog, click on Manage and Settings.
- On the Settings page, click on Writing and then on the ‘Tags‘ box.
- A page will appear showing all of your tags and how many blog posts contain each tag.
- To edit, delete, and views posts containing a tag word, click on the three vertical dots next to the number.
- All blog posts should be categorised and tagged.
- Categorising and tagging your blog posts makes your blog user-friendly. As a result, people are likely to keep coming back.
- Not categorising your blog posts means they get mixed up and not easy to sort through.
- If you don’t categorise your blog posts, how will people find them?
- When tagging posts, think of keywords that other people will use when searching for your blog post.
- Don’t use tag-words that have nothing to do with the subject of your blog post.
- WordPress users – Never add more than 15 tags and categories (combined) to your posts, otherwise they won’t show up on the WordPress Reader.
- Remember to perform regular housekeeping of categories and tags on your blog. Keep them tidy and in order.
- Adding the right tags to your blog posts will result in more readers finding them. More readers means higher stats, more comments and new followers.
What about you?
- Do you have any tips for adding categories and tags to your blog posts?
- Do you have any rules for how many tags and categories you add?
- Do you categorise and add tags to all your blog posts? If not, why not?
- Which tags-words work best for you?
- Is there anything you’d like to add about adding categories and tags to blog posts that I’ve not mentioned?
Join the discussion by leaving me a comment that I can respond to with more than just a ‘thank you.’
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89 thoughts on “How To Make Categorising And Tagging Blog Posts More Powerful”
Hi Hugh- I have a question I’m really confused with. So I have another blog now- mywellnessbasket.net ( I also have The Many Hats of an Orthodox Mom) and I’m really hoping to make it successful so I’m reading a ton and watching videos and I read all sorts of things in a bloggers support group I’m in. They say tagging is not the thing to do. That it’s actually a bad thing. And they all seem to agree. I’m so confused. The only thing I can come up with is there a difference between this WordPress and the paid WordPress which I’m on for my new blog. Is that the difference? Or do you think tagging is important for both and then do you have any idea why they would have a different opinion?
Hi Carol. Thanks for your question about tagging.
The tagging of blog posts is essential. If you want other bloggers to find your post, tags are crucial. For example, if I’m looking for blog posts about writing, I’d add the tags, writing, writing tips, help with writing, etc. The search results would come back with blog posts that have used those tags.
However, keywords are also important, especially for search results on SEO, such as Google and Bing. Keywords are like tags, but they’re included in the title and body of the post.
I recommend always adding tags, but no more than 15 categories and tags combined; otherwise, your post could be marked as spam by WordPress and not show up on the reader.
Does that help?
Thank you. I think so. I just can’t understand why she was so adamant against them. But I will go back to tagging!
Hugh I’m having trouble. I go to settings and click on writing but I see nothing that allows me to see categories here. My dashboard doesn’t seem to look the same. Can I not have subcategories unless I have a paid account? That’s what I’m wondering….
The dashboard has changed since I wrote and published that post. I need to update the post.
Categories and Tags are now under Posts on the menu of your blog’s dashboard. Let me know if you have trouble finding them, and I’ll include a screenshot.
Up early today and found this, thanks for putting on Twitter. I’m having a revamp of my blog site in the next week or two and will be going through most; if not all, of your tips.
Great help, thanks Hugh.
You’re welcome, Paul. I always find this time of the year is great to revamp and do lots of housekeeping on the blog. I hope my tips all help.
Thank you for the tips.
I have always wanted to add sub categories but didn’t know how .
I have a question a out tags. At first, I used to use a space between words for my tags like “blogging tips”
Then I saw on some blogs that people didn’t use spaces making it look like “bloggingtips”. I am still doing it this way.
Which method is correct?
After almost 3years of blogging I am still confused.
Both methods are correct. However, most people combine words to make one tag to save on the number of tags they can use. The cardinal rule of tagging on WordPress.com is you should never add more than a total of 15 tags and categories (combined) to your post; otherwise, it won’t show up in the WordPress Reader. I tend to combine my tags (so I use #bloggingtips) as I believe that is what people will use when searching for blogging tips.
That makes things very clear.
I will keep bothering you with more questions if I may.
Absolutely. I’m always happy to help.
Hugh, that’s great, thanks for the advice. I played around a bit and found that you can have sub-categories of sub-categories, if you want or need it. I didn’t see to how many levels it can be taken. I think we’ll stay with going down, just the one level. I have started following you, so that I can take advantage of your wise words.
You’re welcome, Clive. You’ll find lots more of my blogging tips posts under ‘Blogging Tips’ on the menu bar of my blog. And thanks so much for the follow.