Tags and Categories on the WordPress platform can be a really useful addition your website. Not only does this useful feature help you to group your website content, but it also helps you to provide a further way for your website visitors to navigate your website.
If you are new to building WordPress websites, things can get a little confusing as there is a lot of contradicting information out there. The aim of this article is to give you a clear understanding of what tags and categories are and how they should be used to not only your advantage but also to the advantage of your site visitors.
What Are Tags And Categories And Why Should I Care?
The search engines (Google in particularly) want to provide websites that offer the best and most relevant information to its searchers. One major factor that Google now looks at and tries to understand from the data it gathers from your website is what kind of an experience a user has when he or she visits your site. Google also has to make a decision on what it thinks your website is about and how organised your information is, compared to other sites in the same niche. Both tags and category links within your website help in all of these areas and contribute towards your on-site SEO. Today we are going to look at how to use the tag and category feature properly to our advantage.
How To Use WordPress Tags And Categories To Improve Your Site Navigation
The tags and categories feature on WordPress is really easy to use once you understand how and when to use it. The category feature is used to group “broad” subjects within your website, whilst the tags feature is used to group more specific terms.
In order to understand how we should tag and categorize within a website, lets say that we owned an electronics site and we were writing reviews for Amazon products. Lets say for our imaginary Amazon product review site that I wanted to build product review pages for lots of televisions. The idea of using tags and categories is to “group” relevant content into broad and specific terms. This can take some planning but the general rule is that if you are only ever going to use either a category or tag just once then you shouldn’t use it at all, since this feature is for groups of information.
Take a look at these televisions from Amazon.com:
In the above example we could use a category under the heading of “Televisions”, since we would be highly likely to be reviewing lots of TV’s on our site and a Television category would group everything under one link. For our tags, say we built a page for the first television in the above example image, we would use “Finlux”, “32 inch”, “LED” and “Freeview” since these are all tags that we will no doubt use on other pages. For the second Television in the example we might use “Samsung”, “HD” and “40 inch” as our tags, because again these are tags that we will use on other pages to further group items.
In later pages within our Amazon site we might also review a 32 inch Panasonic TV. This television would still be put under the category of “Televisions” with all the other TV’s but would also have the tag “32 inch”, this would group the Panasonic and Finlux TV, under the “32 inch” tag.
Over time, using the same categories and tags within your pages, builds up an additional page of content within your website that is specific to your viewers needs. Since each category and each tag creates an additional link on your site, this improves the navigation and structure of your website, making it easier for the user to find exactly what they are looking for.
How To And How NOT To Use WordPress Tags And Categories
When you are using both tags and categories it is important to remember that for each category and each tag that you create, WordPress effectively builds a whole new page for that specific link. This feature of WordPress is designed to group content and is not intended for individual pages. If you think about it, creating a tag or category that you are never going to use again will simply create a duplicate page of what you have already created. By adding several “one off” tags to a post will just create multiple copies of the same content within your website and will not offer your readers a good experience within your site.
When you visit a site like Wikipedia, you will see lots and lots of internal links that point to further relevant content within the site. Tags and categories work in exactly the same way, by creating a post category you are creating a link within your website and grouping together a broad group of posts that when clicked will lead the user to everything on your websites based around that theme. A tag link is exactly the same, but much more specific and should lead the user of your site to specific and relevant information.
If a reader of your post likes what they have read and then finds that you have several tags at the bottom of the page, they will click the “tag link” expecting to be taken to further information within that subject. If the user is simply taken to another copy of what they have already seen then chances are you are going to lose that reader as they go back to Google looking for further information.
One thing that I have seen countless times over the years is websites that are using the tags and category feature as a way to just target keywords within a post or page. Both tags and categories can and should be used to target specific keywords within your website, so long as they make sense and so long as they are completely relevant to the group of posts that you are tagging or categorizing. Really bad examples of how to NOT use WordPress tags are not hard to find. Take a look at this:
This is an example taken from a post that didn’t have anything to do with blogging, Britney Spears or anything else on the tag list for that matter! The creator of this page has simply used keyword phrases within the tags field because they think they might stand a chance of getting ranked in the search engines for these keywords. They think the more keywords that they add, the more traffic they will get! Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. Lets take a look at another…
In this example we see that this website has a category of “business law” which is fine and this links to other pages relevant to that category. However the builder of this page has gone wrong here by again adding lots of keyword tags, simply for the sake of adding keywords. If I was a visitor to this site and saw a tag link with the label “how to start a business”, I would expect that link to take me to a relevant page where I could get more information on actually starting my own business. I wouldn’t expect that link to take me back to the same page that I had just viewed or a totally irrelevant page that I didn’t want to see.
And here is another example from a scam product review that we did. This screenshot was taken from another review site for a product called The Money Doubler App.
Not only is this bad for the user experience and would no doubt lead to lack of confidence and losing a visitor to your site, but its also bad in the eyes of the search engines. As Google develops its search algorithm, they become more and more advanced at monitoring the behavior within your website. Google want its users to be presented with websites that are relevant to what they have just searched for and also for them to have a good experience whilst on the site. As a website builder it is our job to ensure that the user is given a good experience and as well as creating good content we need to provide a good navigation system around our site. Tags and categories provide us with the perfect way to group our content and make the navigation easier on our site so long as its used correctly and not misused.
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