Posted on May 31, 2018
I’ve seen over time that one of the most frequent SEO issues is an unmanaged website structure. As your site becomes bigger, it becomes difficult to create and maintain it so that it helps our SEO. The difference between tags and categories in WordPress is clear, but a lot of users mix them up.
For this reason, in this article, we will explain them in detail.
Users love a neat and tidy site structure, Google, too.
In WordPress, categories and tags are called ‘taxonomies’. They help to keep the content neatly organised. In this way, it is easier to be found and this contributes greatly to a good User Experience.
Categories for websites: the way to avoid internal competition
Categories for websites are more important than individual pages or posts. No matter if your site is a blog, an e-commerce site, a job board, or any other kind of platform.
Categories should be the best result to rank on Google:
- Your individual pages, events and job listings might expire, your products might change. Categories can be your evergreen content, that can be found. Otherwise, you might be optimizing pages that are going to be outdated soon!
- Categories prevent the single pages from competing with each other. For example, if you have a sports equipment e-commerce, in your “tennis shoes” category you can’t optimise every product page for “tennis shoes“, or all those pages would compete for the same term. You should optimise every product page for its specific brand, make & model. Then, they would all be part of the “tennis shoes” category page. That category page would rank for “tennis shoes”, and each product for the specific terms. This way, there would be no internal competition.
In Wordpress, tags can summarise in one word what the post is about
Even if some posts belong to different categories, they might have something in common. This “fil rouge” that goes vertically through different categories are the WordPress tags.
For example, on my blog, Page Speed is a tag that can go vertically through the categories of articles:
When you add to a post a tag, that article becomes part of that archive. This can be very useful because people browsing for that kind of topic posts can easily find the relevant content.
How to avoid duplicate content SEO issues with the right use of categories and tags
When you tag a post with a word you never used before, WordPress automatically creates a tag archive. Most website owners don’t know very well the difference between tags and categories in WordPress and they use tags a bit randomly.
It happens to me nearly every time to find sites in which on average 10-20 tags are assigned to each post. Each of them is unique to each post, which means that dozens of archive pages have been created. Very often each of those archive pages only has 1 or 2 posts on them and this means a lot of duplicate content SEO issues. A site could be penalised for this!
To avoid this, every category and tag needs to have some custom written text. This can be a lot of work, but it is needed! For this reason, we always suggest using a lower number of higher quality tags.
Sites that can have duplicate content SEO issues also in the categories. Categories and tags shouldn’t be the same. Otherwise, which one should Google rank first?
The same goes for single or plural: for a tag or category, you must choose either single or plural, not both.
How to choose the best WordPress tags
On your blog posts, you’ll probably have some recurring themes. These are your best tags.
- Which other posts is this article related to?
- Which word(s) could summarise what the article is about?
Also, remember that you shouldn’t make up tags: make some keyword search to find the best ones. We can assist you to find the ones with the highest average traffic volume and the lowest competition. In our monthly Membership Plans, we will also help you sort out entirely your categories and tags. In this way, those pages will rank well and drive to your site traffic, too!
Check the video training lesson from my Youtube Channel: every Monday from 10.30 to 11 am you can follow a FREE SEO video Training session live on my Facebook Page. Immediately afterwards, all the lessons are uploaded into my “SEO basic tips for website owners” Youtube Channel Playlist.