WordPress Tags and Categories are functions that are built into the structure of your blog to help you and your readers get a good idea of the structure of your content.
WordPress Categories are the broad brush strokes that define your content. So, for example, a parenting coach might have main categories based on age, sibling relationships, discipline, family dynamics, and devotions.
Within each of those main categories, there could be sub-categories.
WordPress Tags loosely correlate to keywords. Tags can be appropriate for more than one category, and some the parenting coach might use are teens, toddlers, chores, and respect.
Categories are often listed in the sidebar, and clicking a category will give you a listing of all the blogs you have published with that category name. Your good organization helps your visitors quickly find the information they need. It also makes your blog a helpful and easy to use resource that they will come back to.
Tags are more specific than categories, and are also help your visitors find what they are looking for. Going back to the parenting coach example, someone with toddlers would be able to choose the “toddler” tag and get information from several categories.
Tags are often displayed as a “cloud.” WordPress pulls all the tags you have used together into an interactive graphic. Tags that have been used more show up as larger words in the cloud, which gives your visitor a quick overview of where your focus is.
Ideally, tags should be short, not the one-off “long tail key word” variety. Good tags would be teens, Scripture memory, sibling rivalry, chores, and anger management — topics that would be used for multiple posts.
And here’s a best practice for you: by default, your new blog post is always categorized as “Uncategorized.” Uncheck that and check your own WordPress Category.
I’d love to hear how you have organized your WordPress Tags and Categories. Let me know by leaving a comment below.
How do you see a the tag cloud you mentioned?
Also, how does the use of these impact SEO? at all?
Hi Matthew — The tag cloud is an option that you can activate. It is usually seen as a widget in the sidebar of a website, but not all websites show them. There are some plugins available that will allow all sorts of customization for your tag cloud, too. As far as I know, using a tag cloud doesn’t affect SEO at all. it is just a visual way to display what you write about.