What’s the Difference Between WordPress Categories and Tags? (YouTube Video)

One of the first things to confuse new bloggers is the old ‘WordPress categories vs WordPress tags‘ question! What’s the difference between the two? How to use them? And when to choose to use one over the other?

To find out, check out our latest YouTube video over on our new channel.

Take a look:

– (note: video credits to Topher DeRosia – creator of HeroPress)

Video Transcript:

Hi! This is Topher with WinningWP. In this video we’re going to take a look at the difference between WordPress categories and tags and when to use each. So let’s dive right in. We’re here at the WordPress dashboard and on the left is the posts navigation and underneath there are categories and tags. Now these two interfaces are really for managing your categories and tags in bulk and we’re not going to look at that very closely in this video. We’re mostly going to look at using them in the process of writing a post. Now I want you to imagine with me that I have a travel blog and I’m bicycling around the world and today we rode into Bangkok Thailand. So I write a nice big long post and now I want to organize it. Now categories and tags have the exact same purpose and that is to help you organize your content, but they do it in different ways. I want to show you a couple of the practical differences between categories and tags. Categories are what’s called hierarchical which means they can have parents and children where tags cannot. Let me show you what that looks like. So I’m going to make some categories for continents. And we’ll stop there because we don’t need any more for this post. Now Thailand is in Asia, so now I’m going to make another category for country and I’m going to give it a parent of Asia. And now you can see the hierarchy. I have a continent of Asia and a country of Thailand. Now you could make it have grandchildren and put in cities so I could put in Bangkok. For my bicycling travel blog that really only works if I spend more than one night in a city. I’m going to pretend that I’m not and so it would be silly to make a category for a city and have only one post in it. Categories and tags are for organizing groups of posts so if I’m bicycling it could take me days or weeks to get through Thailand and so I’m going to have a number of posts there. Now with tags I could do the same thing like that. But as you can see they’re not hierarchical they’re just there. But it would work! It would work just fine. Instead what I’m going to do is I’m going to tag this with good food, as opposed to some other city in Thailand where I did not find good food and I’m going to put in flat tire because that’s something that happened in this city. Now if I’m bicycling all the way around the world I’m probably going to have a flat tire more than once and so with the tag of flat tire I would be able to view the group of posts that involve a flat tire. I don’t even have to mention in my post that I had a flat tire. If it just happened, I can tag it with that and you’ll still be able to see it. And so when you visit the flat tire tag on the front of my website you might see posts from Thailand and Germany and Uruguay, because that’s where I had flat tires. And the same with good food. So I’m going to publish this post real quick. And again I don’t have a travel blog I just want one and so I really only have this one post. But I could still visit my category and tag pages so let’s go to categories here and you can see those categories that I made. And I can view the Thailand category page and you can see WordPress makes this wonderful URL structure; /category/asia/thailand and you can see my posts here. Now this is an archive page so it would show many posts on this page if I had them but then right here you can see that I also have tags of flat tire and good food and I can click on flat tire. And there’s /tag/flat-tire. Now this URL structure doesn’t say anything about where I am or what I was doing; it’s simply flat tire so it’s all my posts about flat tires. Now categories and tags can be rendered different ways on the front end of the website based on the theme. I have a categories widget right here and it simply says Asia, Thailand, Uncategorized and i have tags widget as well that I can add. and it makes what’s called a tag cloud. Now what’s cool about a tag cloud is that the more often a tag is used the larger it gets in this cloud, physically larger so I might end up with a font that’s like pixels if I use that tag a lot. But as I said that’s the way this theme renders a tag cloud it might render in a different way in a different theme. So what I want to emphasize here is that you should use categories and tags in the way that helps you best organize your content and not on the way they look on the front end of the website. The only caveat to that is it looks matter to you and you find one theme that makes them look exactly the way you want go for it. But what’s most important is using them properly to organize and when you get right down to it there isn’t a very big difference between categories and tags, they’re simply two different ways to organize your content. And when answering question of which you should use the answer is whichever one you’re most comfortable with. Some people are really comfortable with tags and some people are really comfortable with categories. As long as you’re consistent it doesn’t really matter which one you use. As far as SEO goes Google likes them both. So look carefully at your content and figure out which one works best for your content and which one you’re most comfortable using. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress check out WinningWP.com.

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Anything to add? Any category vs tag tips?

By WinningWP Editorial

Run by Brin Wilson, WinningWP is an award-winning resource for people who use – you guessed it – WordPress. Follow along on Twitter and/or Facebook.
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