Categories and Tags on WordPress: How to Use Them

Business owners working on laptop at the table. Using Categories and Tags on WordPress

As you create new content for your blog over on WordPress you want to make sure you keep things organized to create a user-friendly experience for your readers. It will also help you keep your sanity when you have all your blog posts organized by category and tags. This way both your readers and yourself can easily browse through the content that you create to find specifically what you are looking for.

Both Categories and Tags are used to organize your content but they do work a bit differently. It’s also always a question that comes up when working with our clients that are blogging.

So let’s cover how they differ and find the best way for you to use these tools.

Table of Contents

Using Categories 

Categories are used to organize your content by subject or type. It’s meant to keep it a bit more broad so that your audience can easily find the content that they are interested in.

You do have the option to add as many categories that you’d like but we suggest keeping it under 10. This creates a better user-experience because your website visitors will be able to find what they are looking for without having to get super specific.

For example, let’s say you have a food blog. Some categories you can use are:

  • Appetizers
  • Brunch
  • Main Dishes
  • Desserts

Within the categories section you can also create sub-categories. For example, we can breakdown each category to a few more options: 

  • Desserts
    • No-Bake
    • Pies
    • Cakes
    • Cheesecakes

Creating sub-categories is optional and it really depends on your blog’s content. Some blogs do well with just 5-10 categories, while others take advantage of sub-categories to narrow down certain topics that can be very broad.

Just remember, when it comes to creating categories for your blog — less is more.

Quick Tips for Categories

  • Stick to using 1-2 categories per post. Don’t leave a post without a category as WordPress will automatically file it under “uncategorized”.
  • Categories must be under 25 characters.
  • Stay away from using special characters such as # or @.
  • Capitalize your categories. Category pages can show up as search engine results so make sure to use proper capitalization so that it doesn’t look odd.

What are Tags?

Tags are used to dig a little deeper (cue in Princess & the Frog). You can look at tags such as keywords or short descriptions for your blog post. Adding tags to your blog posts is optional.

When it comes to adding tags to a post, you can focus on more specific terms. 

Let’s say we create a post titled “Cinnamon Roll Waffles” — so this will go categorized into “Brunch” and “Desserts” and now we can add some tags. A few examples would be:

  • waffle recipes for brunch
  • brunch recipes
  • dessert waffles
  • easy brunch recipe

Focus on using tags that are specific to the content that is being shared. Don’t make it vague.

Quick Tips for Tags

  • Stick to using 10 or less tags per post.
  • Tags must be under 80 characters.
  • Stay away from using special characters such as # or @.

Adding Categories and Tags in WordPress

Now that we are all caught up on the differences between categories and tags and how to properly use them we can go over how to add them on WordPress. Both categories and tags are easy to set up on WordPress. You can watch our step-by-step video guide or read about it below.

How to create a new category in WordPress

There are 2 ways that you can add a category within WordPress. First option is the quickest way to add one while you are working blog post.

While editing your blog post go to the sidebar. Make sure you have the Post section selected then scroll down to the Categories section.

Here you can check the category you want to use. If you are adding a new category, just click on Add New Category >> enter the category name in the New Category Name field >> then select Add New Category.

How to add categories in your WordPress blog post.

You can also add and edit your categories by going to your WordPress dashboard and selecting Posts >> Categories. Here you will see the option to add a new category along with selecting if it’s a sub-category (by selecting the Parent Category) and adding a description.

Main category section in your WordPress dashboard.

We recommend to include a description of the category as it can be helpful for your website’s SEO.

Want to edit any of your categories? Then just click on the category you want to edit and you will see the Edit Category page appear where you can update the name, description and other settings.

How to edit category descriptions and slug in WordPress.

If you are using Yoast SEO you will see some additional fields available. Make sure to take advantage of these extra options as it can help improve your website’s SEO.

How to create a new tag in WordPress

Similar to categories, we can add new tags when creating or editing a blog post. 

While editing your blog post go to the sidebar. Make sure you have the Post section selected then scroll down to the Tags section.

How to add tags when working on a WordPress tutorial.

Here you type the tags you want to use — separate with a comma or hit enter. If that tag has been used within the blog already, it will appear below. Just select that tag and continue entering. 

If you want to see all of your tags select Posts in your WordPress dashboard >> Tags.

So there you have it! We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between categories and tags. Now you can get started on organizing your blog’s content to create a user-friendly experience for anyone visiting your website and to help increase your website’s SEO.

Enjoyed this post? Make sure to check out more WordPress tutorials over on the JDS WordPress Archives or subscribe to the JDS newsletter for more WordPress tips and tutorials.

Join the JDS Email List

Receive access to "The Ultimate Homepage Checklist" in addition to our monthly newsletter "Coffee Break". Our goal is to share valuable tips for website management, content creation and productivity so you have the resources you need to make your business shine!

Hello! I'm Melissa!

Website Designer & Developer
Melissa has a decade of experience in web design and development for small businesses, creative companies and boutiques. During any design project, she focuses on creating a collaborative experience so that her clients feel heard throughout the entire creative process. She specializes in WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace and focuses on creating an online presence and website her clients will love.