WordPress Taxonomy 101: How To Use Categories And Tags

WordPress Taxonomy 101

WordPress is a content management system, which we all refer to as CMS. As such, there is the matter of classifying posts inside the system to make everything organized.

While taxonomy refers to the process of classifying plants and animals, we will use that term loosely in what we will talk about today: WordPress Taxonomy 101 about tags and categories.

What is a Category?

A category is a group of blog posts. You see, it is likely that you are publishing articles or content that fall into specific groups. Your blog is like a library of information. In a physical library, there is a hall or shelf about science, then there is a shelf about mathematics, and so on. 

A WordPress category works just like that. You create categories and assign each blog post in that category. As a result, your site visitors will find it easier to look for articles that they are interested in reading. 

Take a look at this sample blog:


The categories are:

  • General
  • Tutorial
  • Marketing
  • Shopify
  • Product reviews

If you were the reader and you only want to read product reviews, click on the Product Reviews category and you will see this:

As you can see, all the blog posts inside this category are about various products. Categories in WordPress keep your blog posts organized. The ultimate goal of building one is to provide your readers with great user experience. 

If you go to a grocery store, each aisle is a category by itself. There is an aisle for soap and beauty, an aisle for diapers and hygiene, an aisle for biscuits and snacks, and so much more. 

As a shopper, you push your cart and read through each aisle’s category name and then push your way in that aisle if you need something from there. This system makes it easier for you to shop for specific items that you need instead of going through each aisle.

The WordPress category works in the same way—readers will click on a category to find the information they are interested in.

What is a Tag? 

Now, let us discuss the WordPress tag. Whenever you write a blog post, WordPress gives you an option to type a tag as shown on the screenshot below: 

So, what is a tag? 

First of all, a tag is not a meta-description and it has no impact on SEO. A tag is a label that is a bit more specific. 

For example, let us say that you created a WordPress blog about lifestyle. As such, you are a lifestyle blogger who shares a multitude of things about travel. In this case, your blog post categories may look like this:

  • Food
  • Music
  • Flights
  • Activities

If you write a blog post about the best pizza you have tasted in Italy, you will certainly categorize that under Food. However, you can also tag that post as pizza. 

As you can see, a category covers a wider scope of content that allows you to neatly pile up articles inside specific groups. A tag, however, is much more specific than that. 

In WordPress, a category is mandatory. If you do not create a category, WordPress will assign a default category for all your blog posts. A tag, however, is not required.

So, What Does a Tag Do? 

A tag is merely a cloud of words—words that are related to a blog post. In the example earlier, one of the categories we saw was Marketing.

Now, this category is full of marketing blog posts. If you wrote about a Twitter tutorial, it just makes sense to tag this blog post as “Twitter” and then save it in the Marketing category.

Tags do not have any parent-child relationships. Categories do. For example, you can create a Food category, and then you can add Thai Cuisine, Chinese Cuisine, and Indian Cuisine as sub-categories. For every blog post or recipe that you publish about Indian food, you assign that post to Indian Cuisine.

If a reader clicks on Indian Cuisine, the only blog posts he will see are those that you categorized as Indian Cuisine. 

Tags do not work this way. If you tag a blog post as Indian Cuisine, that post will show along with all other posts that you tagged as Indian cuisine. 

It is up to you to show the tags on your website. If you do, there is going to be an area on your sidebar that says Tags. Under that is a cloud of words. If a site visitor clicks on any of those words, he will see a list of all blog posts that you tagged with those words. 

To show a tag cloud on your WordPress website, just head over to your control panel and go to Appearance > Widgets. Choose the TAG widget and drag it to your sidebar.

After placing it in your sidebar, click on Save. 


On your website, it will look like this:


If a site visitor clicks on Shopify, he will see all posts that were tagged as Shopify, even if they are not classified under the Shopify category. 

How Do You Create a Category?

To create a category, head over to your admin panel and then click on Posts > Categories.


After doing that, you will see this page:

Now, you can type the name of your new category, and then click on Add New Category. Once this is completed, the new category will appear on the right side. 

The slug is just a URL suffix. Use the category name for the slug. The parent category is something you use only if you are creating a sub-category. For example, you can create a sub-category and name it Apps, and then choose Shopify as your parent category.

Now, once the category is made, you have to assign posts to it. Take a look at the screenshot below: 


When adding a new post, you have to click on the Document area on the right side of the post builder. Below that, you have to check the category boxes where you want this document to appear. A single blog post is not limited to one category.

In our example, we can write a tutorial about “How to Build a Shopify Store”, and then put the blog post under the Shopify and the Tutorial categories. 

WordPress Taxonomy 101: What is More Important?

Well, the category is certainly more important between the two. This is also the reason why WordPress made it mandatory.

The tag works best if you want to give your audience a pool of words to choose from—kind of like a list of your most popular tags. If they click on that tag, they will see a list of posts that touch that subject.  


That is pretty much about it for our WordPress Taxonomy 101 on tags and categories. Remember that your category names should be short and simple—a reader must easily understand what a category means. 

Use your categories to improve your site visitor’s experience. Without it, a reader will not know how to browse your website. Place your categories on your menu, sidebar, and footer. What you want to do is to make these blog post categories easily accessible so your reader is going to stay on your website.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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