Using Tags and Categories for your Blog Posts is an excellent way to automatically archive your blog’s content. It also lets readers access older posts. And its a good way to help Google understand what your site is about.
I find Categories to be more useful than Tags but no reason why you can’t use both. Once you learn how to set up your Categories you’ll know how to do Tags.
One reason Categories are more useful is that you can create Sub Categories. You can’t do that with Tags.
A best practice is to assign at least one Category to each post and to never leave a post as Uncategorized.
Transcript Of This Video
I’m now going to talk about tags and categories, and while there are differences between them, they’re both very similar. One of the key concepts is that both tags and categories allow you to archive your blog posts. This is important because over time you’re going to have a lot of posts. At least I hope you do, and they’re not all going to be displayed on your site at any one time. Currently, on the site that I’m building, I have four posts showing, but over time, I may have 40, 50, 100 posts. How do people get access to that older content that is still very valuable but is no longer being displayed? Let me give a couple examples of how categories are used and how tags are used. Let’s start with the categories.
I found this little site here which is about interior design in Raleigh North Carolina that is a pretty good example of the use of categories. Here is a traditional blog. You can see one post follows the next with a featured image. Well done. They have this thing over here, “Filed under art, interior design.” Here they’re using two different categories that they’re assigning for this post. If I scroll down a little more, you’re going to see “Filed under interior design.” OK good, I like that a lot. Now if I look over here on the right-hand side, “Categories,” I have a widget here that lists all the categories that are being used for this blog. If I click on any one of them, let’s click on “Art.” This is going to show me all of the blog posts for which the term art has been assigned so the term “Art” as a category. You can scroll through that, and the same thing would be for all these other categories. OK, now let’s look at tags.
Tags are similar but different. Let me show you about tags. This is an old site of mine about the Joy of Code. If I scroll down here, we’re going to see that I’ve got to go way down here, right over here, “Tag cloud.” Look at these words over here, and you’ll notice some words are bigger than others. The bigger the word, the more often it was used as a tag for various blog posts. In other words, I did a whole lot of posting for it– Guess what? WordPress. So if I click on “WordPress,” you’ll now see all the posts that were assigned the tag “WordPress.” This lets the user see real quickly, “All of these articles deal with WordPress.” That’s true. I’m not going to show you how to do tags now, because if you know how to do categories, which I find to be far more useful than tags, then you are how to do tags.
Let’s have a look at how to set up categories and use them on the blog that I’m working on. So, if I scroll down over here we’ll see there’s a widget over here called “Categories,” and if I click on the word “Uncategorized,” everything I’ve done so far is uncategorized. WordPress will automatically assign the word “Uncategorize” to every blog post that you make by default, which is not very helpful. So, how do you fix all that? Let me do this first. Let’s go into something I’ll pay attention to next year, and assign our first categories. You can assign more than one category, and the words that you’re going to use for your category could be a single word, or it could be a short phrase, are going to be a way of grouping all of your different posts. That’s the best way to describe how categories work.
So, go over here to “Categories” and see where it says “Uncategorized?” No good. I click on “Add new category,” so the one I’m going to add here is “PH factor.” Let’s do that, let’s make sure it’s over here– “PH factor” “Add category.” OK, so now it’s in there, and it’s automatically selected, and the other one I’m going to add is “Soil.” Yes, that’s how they spell it. I’m going to add that over here, so that’s fine. I am now going to update my page because every time you make a change, make sure to do the update.
That’s going to be good. Now, let’s have a look at what happened here. We go over here, and we see down over here the two categories that were assigned. This particular theme will show the categories like this. I have a widget that shows categories, so now I have these two categories, and I still have the uncategorized category if that makes any sense. Let’s go on and assign some more categories, and it’ll even make more sense. So I’m going to go to the “Pests” page, if you will, or post. Let’s have a look, let’s go to here– “Keeping Out the Pests” I should say. We’ll go over here, and I’m now going to edit, so we’ll put this category in here. Now make sure you’re in the document part of the right sidebar here, because this is not a block. This applies to the entire document. You can see, “Uncategorized, no.” “PH factor, no.” “Soil” doesn’t apply. But the category I’m going to use here is “Pests.” What’s nice is these words can be used for other– Or, these categories can be used for other posts. In fact, that’s the purpose of setting up categories, is again, to group your posts. This will be very handy for people who want to have access to older content.
Say OK to that. So we have “Pests,” but I wanted it to be “Pest control,” so we’ll get to editing that later. You say, “I made a mistake. What do you do about that?” I’ll show you. I also want to do, “How much water?” So, we’ll go over here, “How much,” and we’re going to say– We’re going to add– Let’s see. Let’s go over to “Edit,” we’ll go over to “Categories.” Definitely not uncategorized, and this time, I’m going to add another new category, “Water.” I’m going to add that category, and this also deals with soil, so let’s get the soil clicked off here as well. OK, and again I’m going to update. You might be wondering, “What is this ‘Parent’ business over here?” There is a way to add sub-categories, so you’d have let’s say a generic or a more general term, and then something more specific. The more general term would be the “Parent” category.
I’m not going to get into categories– Or, “Parent” categories because once you know how to set this up, you’ll know how to do “Parent” and “Child” categories. OK, so that’s that. Now let’s have a look and see where we are at this point. Go to the blog, and we’ll see here’s our categories. If I go to the category for “Soil,” you’ll see what’s nice is that both articles that are using the term soil are listed here on this archive page. In fact, this is the category’s archive page for “Soil.” So, that’s nice. Now, this theme displays this information this way, and different themes are going to display it a little bit different or maybe not at all. If I had 400 posts, of which 20 of them were assigned the word “Soil” as a category, this is how they would be displayed.
OK, now “What about that little mistake I made? What about ‘Garden security?’ You didn’t do that one.” I’m going to do all this right now. So, for that, I’ll do things a little bit different to show you that in WordPress categories are a big deal. I’m going to go over to “Posts,” “All posts.” For that, I’m going to go right over here to “Garden security” down here, “Quick edit,” and you can select your category right from here. So, “Pests” I can’t create it ut you can select the ones that you’ve already set up like I have over here. That’s fine, and I’m going to update that so now “Garden security” has been assigned to category “Pests.”
All right, but I said I made a little mistake somewhere, because “Pests,” it should be “Pest control.” So how do you fix that? What’s nice is they have this whole, what I call the “Categories management page,” so all this is under “Posts.” OK, “All posts,” “Add a post,” so “Categories.” From here, I’m going to manage my categories. I can create categories, rename categories, reassign them to different posts rather than to go into each individual post and do that. This is going to be handy. For example, “Pests,” I made a mistake. I meant “Pest control,” so I’m going to edit that category to “Pest control,” and this will automatically update everything. I’m going to save this and now go back to the– I could just hit the back button over here one more time. Let me refresh the page, and you’ll see it’s “Pest control.” OK, and if I look over here to the far right it tells me the count, meaning how many times or for how many posts– Meaning, how many posts were assigned the term “Pest control.” If I click on that, this is nice, and it gives me a list of the two that were assigned. I could also do this too if I wanted to view the archive page, the pest control archive page. See?
“Category, pest control.” It’s over here are the two, all right. That’s fine. Now I mentioned I’m a big believer in always assigning at least one category to each post, and never to use “Uncategorized.” That’s totally meaningless. Can I delete “Uncategorized?” No. That cannot be deleted, but we can use a different word. We could use a different category. I’m just going to create a category right here, and I’m going to create one just called “General.” OK, we’re going to use that, and I’m going to save it. All right, but how do we get it so that if I don’t use a category, the term “General” will be assigned to the post? For that, I’m going to go over to “Settings,” “Writing,” and right at the very top it says “Default post category.” Where here it says “Uncategorized,” I don’t want that. I could choose any one of these, but I created one just called “General”, so that’s exactly what I want. I click on that, and that will now be my default post category, so if I forget to assign a post category, the term “General” will be assigned. One other thing I want to show you, if you go back to “Posts,” remember I said if you know how to do posts you know do tags? Because tags are a little bit easier to do but not as full-featured as categories. Here is the tags management page, or it’s very similar to the category management page.