Throughout my WordPress journey, these two words are the ones I’ve struggled to grasp the most, simply because every article I found that explained the terms was loaded with tech jargon.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?!

After spending some time researching the topic I not only learnt what they are but also some good category & tag practices that you can implement to help improve your SEO.

So let’s begin with defining (in simple terms) exactly what they are.

Categories and Tags in WordPress - What are they and how should I use them?



So categories can be likened to the table of contents of a book, they give you a broad overview of what you can expect to come.

Your blogs categories are the primary topics of your site and each blog post you create is required to slot into only ONE of the categories you have chosen – in a very rare case it may be appropriate to fit your blog post into two categories, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

If you don’t select a category it will automatically appear under the default ‘Uncategorized’ category that WordPress comes with. Note: the name of this ‘default’ category can be changed to something more suitable.

Categories can belong to other categories forming a hierarchy, in other words, you can have main categories and then sub-categories under these.

When you sit down to choose your categories it is wise to keep your blog or websites SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy in mind as categories are critical in building its SEO.

The URL of a category will appear like this –


Tags can be likened to the index that you might find at the back of a book, they describe your post in more detail.

They are entirely optional, they do not and cannot belong to any other tags. Meaning you won’t ever have sub-tags.

You can have an unlimited number of tags however for SEO purposes it’s best to limit them to about 10 – 15.

The URL of a tag will appear like this –

An example of categories & tags

Let’s take a look at business & graphic design blogger Elle & Co. Elle writes about graphic design, business, blogging and the work that she creates so her categories are as follows…

  • Blogging
  • Business
  • Design
  • Squarespace
  • Branding
  • Social Media

Some of Elle’s tags might include things like ‘website’, ‘illustrator’, ‘tutorial’, ‘portfolio’ etc.


So now that you know what a category and a tag is, let’s go ahead and set some up.

Step 1

Log in to your dashboard then navigate to ‘Posts’ > ‘Categories’

Step 2

On the left-hand side, you’ll see ‘Add New Category’.

In the ‘Name’ box enter the name of the new category you’d like to create and amend the slug if you want that to appear different to the name. Remember the slug is whatever will come at the end of your URL.

If you want it to be a sub-category of another category that you created then select the ‘Parent Category’ from the drop down box. Note: you will need to create the parent category before the sub category.

Add in your category description

Then click ‘Add New Category’


Now onto setting up your tags.

Step 1

Log in to your dashboard then navigate to ‘Posts’ > ‘Tags’

Step 2

In the ‘Name’ box enter the name of the new tag you’d like to create and amend the slug if you want that to appear different to the name.

Add in your tag description

Then click ‘Add New Tag’


  1. Limit your tags to between 10 – 15 per post anything more and Search Engines will get a little confused!
  2. Review your category archive pages as these are very import for SEO, make them really easy for your readers to find the content that they are looking for.
    I’ve recently been on a mission to revamp my category archive pages to make it easy for you to a. know what you can find in each category and b. to find the exact tutorial you need to help you on your blogging journey.
  3. Tags don’t help with SEO unless you use them consistently. Don’t pick every and any tag, make sure they are relevant to not only your blog post but your blog as a whole.
  4. Ensure that both your tags and categories have descriptions. You can add these in on the ‘Categories’ or ‘Tags’ pages. This process helps to increase your SEO.

Remember, the whole purpose of categories and tags is to make it easy for your users to browse your site. I hope that this article helps clear any and all confusion you might have around WordPress Categories and Tags.

If you have any questions, please pop them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.


  1. Jacqui on 31st July 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Loving these posts they are helpful. I keep them listed as homework to refer back to and slowly work through

    • Nicola Tweed on 31st July 2017 at 5:44 pm

      Yay, I’ll keep them coming x

  2. Leonie on 1st August 2017 at 11:05 am

    Thank you. This information is invaluable for someone still learning. Please can you do an article about Widgets and how to use them. I have a sidebar and 3 footer widgets and I have no idea what to do with them.

    • Nicola Tweed on 1st August 2017 at 11:08 am

      Hi Leonie, thanks for your comment! Absolutely, I’ll put it on my list and try get to it before the end of the week 🙂

  3. Free WordPress Advice - The WordPress Workspace on 11th August 2017 at 8:09 am

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