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19 Comments

  1. Malory

    Hi there,
    I work for a gluten free recipe blog and I’m wondering if “gluten free” “recipes” or “gluten free recipes” should be included in the tags since nearly every blog post would have these tags.

    Also, we have the recipes broken down by category – Breakfast, Main Dishes, etc. and I’m getting the idea from this post and others I’ve read that we wouldn’t want to have “Breakfast” and “Main Dishes” as categories and tags, so I’m planning on removing them as tags. Is that the right way to go?

    Thanks!

  2. JR Caparas

    For example, a post is entitled “How to Travel to New York on a Budget with Family” Should I categorize it under “Travel”, “Finances” or “Family”?

    Thanks in advance.

  3. Mike Rana

    If categories have a hierarchy, then what prevents is from using the categories and not the tags at all . The tags could be the sub trees of a main category

  4. Andrew

    That definitely helps. Should a tag description be shorter than a category description? Maybe one to two sentences?

  5. Hassan

    This was really good help, especially for those beginning to write and publish their own blogs. Thanks a lot!

  6. Tarso

    Nice post, Matt!

    I was advised to use categories and tags to avoid cannibalization.

    I’d like to know your opinion about it. Do you mind?

    Let me detail my case a little bit.

    I’m creating a lot of articles with long tail keywords, but to beginning of each long-tail keyword has the same short-tail keyword. And maybe I’m been penalized for that.

    Let’s take a simple common example:

    – how to make money
    – how to make money online
    – how to make money with facebook
    – how to make money with youtube
    – how to make money with blog
    …and so on.

    I have different sites, so different subjects, but the problem is the same.

    I do have a main category calling something like that “how to make money”.
    So, these are my problems:

    1. URL: I just use the “postname” in the url, no categories. My url postname for each article used to be “how-to-make-money-‘last_words'”. So the base is always the same “how-to-make-money”. Should I start showing the category_name at the url and remove the “how-to-make-money” from the post_name’ slug?

    2. Should I use the tags to represent the “internet”, “facebook”, “youtube” and so on?

    3. If I do that, how am I supposed to call the post slug? Anything without using the words “how” “make” “money” “facebook”, or could I repeat at least the word that is already a tag, in this case, “facebook”?

    4. Can’t I use “How to Make Money …” in the title of each article? So I should use something similar to that, but not equal, like “Generating Money With Your Facebook”?

    Sorry about all these questions, but this topic (cannibalization) is messing with my mind and I need to restructure my blog, but I’m not sure how to do it right.

    Hope you can help me.

    Thanks a lot!

  7. David Brussat

    I have a blog about architecture. When I post, I normally check the boxes for five or six categories and list 8 to 10 tags. My assumption was to best describe my post in the broad sense (categories, however many apply) and to use as many specifics as tags to describe the post’s content narrowly – such as listing most proper names or websites mentioned, etc.

    Am I going about it all wrong? Should I just check one or two boxes that best categorize each post, and then add only a few more tags to describe it?

    Can I change just by doing that? Or do all the categories and tags I’ve used in all my prior posts add up to something that isn’t going to be changed just by starting to do it the right way?

    1. Ryan Sullivan

      Hey David, thanks for stopping by.

      I’d recommend choosing one category per article, and then as many descriptive tags as you’d like.

      This does a few different things. 1) It helps keep category archives more focused, and you don’t end up with the same article in several different places, and 2) it helps readers really drill down into singular and more focused topics, which is good for user experience and navigating the site.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Shaheer

    This post just clarified my confusion between using tags and properly optimizing them 🙂 Thanks A lot.

  9. david

    Hi, I want to set up a medicinal plants website, and I need advice how to organize the content. Each plant has many medicinal uses and each medical problem has a list of plants that you could use to treat it.
    What would be the best way to present this information? would I use categories and tags? if so how exactly would that work, or do I need to look at a plugin like https://wordpress.org/plugins/posts-to-posts/ what do you recommend as the best approach.
    Thanks for any help
    David

  10. Ed Puno

    Thank you for the informative post about categories and tags. I was really confused about these two. Now I know what’s the difference between categories and tags and how to use them properly. Thank you!

  11. afzal hameed

    Thanks for a great post. I’ve wondered how categories might look for SEO and your post has gone a long way to answering my questions. I was concerned if all posts were indexed that archive pages for tags or categories would look like duplicate content, is that not the case? On a similar note, how about having one post in more than one category, is that bad or neutral?

  12. Connor Rickett

    Awesome explanation! Categories versus tags is one of those distinctions that’s often not clear to beginners. Or novices. Sure took me long enough to figure out.

    I do have one small point of contention. Categories (at least in WP) are also a powerful content management tool. For example, on my own sites, everything gets thrown into one category that fits its content, but also, potentially, into a “Featured” category which gets precedence on the homepage, or a “Favorites” category, which reposts (at long intervals) particularly popular posts. Rarely both. I guess that’s more of an advanced or niche use, so it makes sense not to include it in this basic article. Still, it’s worth noting that it’s one of the easiest ways to make use of many plugins.

    Anyway, like I said, great article, perfect for any beginner WordPress user, thanks!

  13. Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Thanks for this great information!

    Would you say that it’s okay to use sub-categories to reorganize my blog as well?

    For example, if I posted a chicken recipe, I’d like it to go under my ‘recipe’ category, but under my ‘main dish’ sub-category, and then could I use ‘poultry’ as a tag nested under *those* to organize it even more?

    Thanks!
    Kelly

    1. Matt Zak

      Thanks Kelly, I’m glad you found it helpful!

      For strictly organizational purposes, sub-categories are fine. That being said, I would generally try to avoid them myself for two reasons, both related to SEO:

      A) I really believe in having a small handful of categories that are very close to (if not exactly the same as) the keywords being targeted by the site.

      B) The majority of posts should clearly clearly fit into a single category.

      Following those principles will help ensure that content on the site is very focused (which Google loves), and that category archives have little to no duplicate content (which Google definitely does not love).

      If the site is targeting the “Main Dish,” I’d drop the “Recipes” category entirely, and implement the appropriate redirects. If the site is targeting “Recipes,” I would create a “Main Dish” tag. One thing to note here is that “Recipes” and “Main Dish” are general, highly competitive terms, so it would probably be fairly tough to rank for them.

      Ingredients are generally a great use of tags, so a “Poultry” tag would be a good choice in either scenario.

      I hope that helps! 🙂

  14. Annemarie (Real Food Real Deals)

    This is so helpful, Matt. Thank you. So let’s say your categories are a mess and you want to change them. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t delete the categories you’re currently using, but rather add new categories and just take everything out of the old categories. I forget what the rationale was, but I think it was SEO-related. Do you agree with this suggestion, or would you recommend deleting the old categories?

    1. Ryan Sullivan

      Hey Annemarie,

      Matt’s on vacation for a few days so I figured I’d jump in 🙂 This is a question that can be a little bit tricky, mainly because if Google holds a certain category in high regard, you probably wouldn’t want to delete it outright. A proper redirect would be a better answer.

      That said, if you have several categories that you don’t plan to do anything with, it doesn’t really make much sense to keep them around either. One plugin that we should probably add to the post is the Term Management Tools plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/term-management-tools/

      That plugin will let you more easily merge categories and will speed up your organization. If you questions about a specific category(ies) on your site that you’d like to get rid of, you can shoot us a quick email to see if there are any precautionary measures that should be taken.

      That was the long way around, but hopefully it helps 🙂

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