For most businesses, a blog is a recommended content-growth strategy to add fresh, relevant information to your website. Your content strategy should be to add fresh content regularly and provide useful information that your target market will find interesting and useful.
But on the organizational side of running a blog, there are these things called “categories” and “tags” – most people really don’t understand what they really are, how they work, and how to use them properly.
WordPress is the most-popular blogging platform, but the information here will apply to category and tag use on pretty much any blog platform that uses a categories and tags.
What’s The Difference Between a Category and a Tag?
Categories and tags are quite flexible. You can set up categories and tags in almost any way that makes sense to you – but it might make more sense to think about your blog readers and what would make sense to them because you can think of categories as broad topics and tags as being a more narrow focus within each category.
A category is a broad topic or area of interest. A blog about Football could include categories such as:
- Serie A
- The Premier League
But remember – categories are very flexible, so your football-oriented blog category examples could also be:
- Manchester United
- Real Madrid
- Uefa Champions League
Think of a tag as a sub-topic within a category. Using our category examples above for a blog about football, some examples of tags could be:
- Eric Cantona
- David Beckham
Do I Have To Use Categories?
You don’t have to use categories, but you should. First, if you don’t use categories, all your blog posts will get lumped into WordPress’ “uncategorized” section making for an organizational mess. Don’t do that.
But more importantly, categories help your audience to navigate to areas they’re interested in, so using them makes good sense not only from an organizational standpoint, but especially from the viewpoint of your blog readers.
How Many Categories Should I Use?
The number of categories you use is really up to you. The number of categories you can use is practically unlimited in WordPress.
That said, use common sense here and don’t go overboard with dozens or hundreds of categories – that will be difficult for you to manage, and also overwhelming for your blog readers. If you overwhelm your readers with choices, they may make no choice out of frustration due to “the paradox of choice”.
Rule of Thumb for How Many Categories to Use on Your Blog
If you find yourself wanting to have more than a dozen categories, you’re probably best served by re-thinking your organizational strategy. I’d recommend having no more than 10-12 categories, but fewer than 10 categories (somewhere around seven, perhaps) might be even better to prevent overwhelming your audience.
Do I Have To Use Tags?
Tags are completely optional. Unlike categories, you will not run into organizational problem if you don’t use tags.
However, tags can be useful to your audience especially if they search your site using search terms that you also use as tags.
How Many Tags Should I Use?
Like categories, you can use as many tags as you want. Unlike categories, you will not create organizational mess or overwhelm your audience if you use dozens or even hundreds of tags.
Rule of Thumb for How Many Tags to Use per Post
Keep it to only 1-3 tags per post.
Category vs. Tag Takeaways: Summary Points to Remember
- Categories and Tags are very flexible.
- Think of Categories as broad topics.
- Think of Tags as a narrowing focus underneath a certain category.-
- Consider your audience of blog readers:
- What categories would make sense to them?
- What tags within those categories would make sense to them?