Categories and tags, and how to use them

I have just spent an entire week doing major maintenance on my own site, and part of that was redoing many of my categories and tags.

What are categories and tags?

Categories and tags are used to structure the content on your blog. Categories are used to identify the different subjects on your blog, and tags are used to describe the content even better.

Think about categories as a numbered list, and tags as bullet points under those numbers. Or, categories as the names of your chapters, and the tags as subheadings in the chapters, for example:

  1. Category 1
    a. Tag 1
    b. Tag 2
    c. Tag 3
  2. Category 2
    a. Tag 1
    b. Tag 2
    c. Tag 3
  3. Category 3
    a. Tag 1
    b. Tag 2
    c. Tag 3

How do you use them?

Make a list of the main subjects you write about (or will be if you are planning to start a blog and want to do it right from the beginning. Those subjects will become your categories, for instance, on Blogable they are:

  • Blogging
  • Community
  • Money Making
  • Story Building
  • Technical Tips
  • Writing Tips

You can create your categories — try to keep it to a maximum of 10-15 (I have 20, but came down from about 40) — in your dashboard before you write your first post, or create them while you write the post.

You can use more than one category per post, but try to limit it to a maximum of three categories. Always avoid uncategorized posts. A post can go without a tag, but never without a category.

An image showing where you can find categories and tags in your dashboard.
Categories and tags in your dashboard

An image showing where you can find categories and tags while you write a post.
Categories and tags while you’re writing a post

As for tags, you can have an unlimited number of those. When you write a post, use the main points you make in the post as the basis for your tags. The tags are used to describe specific details you have added to your posts, like for this post categories and tags will be two of the tags added.

So to summarize, categories are there to tell your reader what, let’s call it, the ‘genre’ of the post is, and your tags will tell the reader about the individual things the post is about. Categories are ‘superficial’ and tags are more ‘in depth’.

Personal tips

Working through almost 11 years worth of posts to check categories and tags were not an easy thing to do, but it has helped tremendously to restructure my blog and to make me feel 100% positive about it again. Tips I can give you after all those years of blogging and the work I did on my blog are as follows:

  • If you want to start a blog, jot down a couple of subjects you know you want to write about, and use those as your categories. Start with about 3-5 and you can always add more later as your blog grows.
  • If you have been blogging for years, and like me, you are not happy with the number of categories you have, or even with the categories you have used, it’s also good to start with a list of the main subjects you write about. Check which are in your list of categories, add what’s not there, and then start working through your posts in the different categories to restructure them.
  • Don’t use meme names for categories. If for whatever reason you decide that you don’t want to participate in a meme anymore, you have a category that will never be used again. Only use tags for the meme name.
  • Use categories to refine your menu and make it easier for your visitors to find more posts about the different subjects you write about.

Last note

Adding categories and tags to your posts makes it easier for your reader to find more of the same content. In 99% of the themes out there, both categories and tags are clickable, which means when your reader click on a category or tag, they will be lead to a landing page with all other posts that has the category or tag assigned to them. Therefore, categories and tags are just another great way to make your content more accessible to your readers.

Image from Pixabay

3 thoughts on “Categories and tags, and how to use them

  1. Really helpful post Marie. I think the point about the categories being displayed as tabs of your menu is important – Google also like it when you are organizing your site in this manner and they use it when showing your sites details in the search engine x

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