When moving from blogger into WordPress there is a big learning curve, and new terminology. Today let’s tackle the meanings of the terms: tags, categories and keywords.
In Blogger you’ll be used to tagging each post. And I believe most people say that those tags help with SEO. I’m not sure if that is true though. Keywords used to be assigned to posts five or so years ago for Google to scan. Now, Google ignores keywords and scans the actual text.
In WordPress you’ll have the opportunity to use tags and categories. And they are vastly different, with different purposes and different values.
First, lets discuss categories in WordPress. Note that we’re talking about self-hosted WordPress although this still applies to the hosted version.
The primary purpose of a category is to help users navigate your site.
Secondary to that, they also are oftentimes added to the permalink which may help with SEO.
How to use Categories
Keep it to a minimum
Categories should be the main topics found on your blog. For ease of use, there should be seven or less. Any more than five and you risk choice ‘overload’, also known as the paradox of choice.
Paradox of choice: “…reducing choices for your customers is most likely to boost sales”. Source
But if you’ve been blogging for any length of time you likely have hundreds and hundreds of posts. And grouping them into five categories does not make the user’s experience any better when they’re looking for something.
EXAMPLE: a lifestyle blog moving from blogger has 1200 posts and creates 5 main categories:
- DIY -425 posts
- Recipes – 65 posts
- Decorating – 305 posts
- Relationships – 25 posts
- Housekeeping – 380
Use the Hierarchy
If you’ve got over 24 or so posts in a category, it may be time to separate out some of those posts… This is the perfect opportunity to create sub-categories, sometimes called child categories.
If you’re using categories in your permalinks, they will also be displayed.
EXAMPLE: the Recipes category needs to be sub-divided
- breakfast – 6 posts
- soups & sandwiches – 24 posts
- dinner – 20 posts
- snacks – 15 posts
Create custom templates
If you have a blog as a business, it may be worthwhile to create custom category templates for use in your theme.
EXAMPLE: a separate alphabetical template for all recipe categories and sub-categories; a photo category template for DIY & Decorating categories.
If you moved from blogger you’ll likely have hundreds of tags. Once you have an understanding on how they’re used, you can decide whether they should be kept, changed into categories, or deleted altogether. Remember to create a redirect for every link that you delete.
Purpose of tags
Tags used to have a different purpose and were more closely related to ‘keywords’ for SEO. Now tags are entirely ignored by search spiders.
However, they do still have a purpose within WordPress – they can be used with abandon and hidden from the user. This way the interface is nice and clean, yet those keywords are still attached for the WordPress search engine to use.
WordPress built-in search engine has been a thorn in the side of many a developer! Until it is upgraded (a lot) I recommend using tags… it helps WordPress find the posts that the user might be looking for.
EXAMPLE: DIY Post entitled, “How to distress a side table” might have tags like: chalk paint, how-to, tutorial, weekend project, furniture projects, painting projects, side tables, paint furniture, antique furniture, etc
How to determine the tags
When selecting tags to use, think of any and all terms that your readers will type into the WP search engine… will they be looking for a chalk painting tutorial? or a furniture antiquing tutorial? Use as many as you can think of. (just make sure these aren’t displayed on your theme!)
SEO Benefit of Tags
There is NO SEO benefit to using tags. They do not show in permalinks. They are not crawled by search engines. They are not beneficial at all to search engines. But they do help users find what they need.