One of the most widely talked about SEO topics is whether it is better to use categories or tags on your site. Both of these techniques are referred to as taxonomies, and are used to sort content to promote usability of a site, but they do have profound differences. Below, we will go over the differences between categories and tags, and talk about when it is appropriate to use each technique on your site.
Explanation of Categories
The use of categories is a broad way for you to group your posts. To better understand this, think of categories as the general topics of your site. Better yet, think of categories as the table of contents for your site. Categories’ purpose is to help visitor identify what your site is all about. By doing this, categories help viewers quickly find exactly what they are looking for on your site. Since categories can be hierarchical, it is possible to have sub-categories in addition to categories on a particular site. When writing a blog, you must select a category, however, there is no requirement to add any tags to a blog post. If you need to add more specific details to your categories, you can always add sub-categories as you go along.
Explanation of Tags
Although categories and tags can seem very similar, tags are actually very different from categories. Tags are used to describe very specific details of a post on your website. The best way to understand tags and to differentiate them from categories is to think of tags as your site’s index words. Unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical, and instead tags are considered micro-data that micro-categorizes your content. Tags can be beneficial to blog posts, but aren’t technically required.
How to Use Tags and Categories in a Blog Post
Once you understand the differences between tags and categories, you may be confused as how to use them properly in a blog. Below, you will find an example of how to use tags and categories in a blog post. For example, if you are writing about a certain lifestyle, you can include categories such as vacations, fine dining, and beaches. For this type of blog, your tags could be Puerto Rico, surf and turf, and proper names of beaches. In this example, the categories are broad topics and the tags are more focused on specific items, places, or things.
Cautions When Using Categories and Tags
If you don’t organize your categories and tags, they can quickly get out of control. One easy to prevent losing control of your blog is to set-up categories and tags before you begin your blog. This way you can make sure you are addressing the content you intended to. In addition to making your blogs easier to read, a well organized blog also adds to the usability of your site.
Now that you have a basic understanding of categories and tags, you are ready to apply what you learned to your own blogs.