Categories and tags help search engines and readers understand your site structure. They also prevent your site content from competing with itself in search rankings. You should not use categories and tags to try to artificially boost your search engine ranking. This article explains effective category and tag usage.
Understanding categories versus tags
Think of categories as the table of contents of your blog: they relate to the overall focus of your site and divide your content into respective chapters.
Imagine tags as the index of your blog: keywords, places, people, and things that appear in a specific blog post. Tags are not keywords and adding a high number of tags to your site will not boost your search engine ranking.
Each new category and tag creates a respective archive page.
Category and tag archive pages
Category and tag archive pages help search engines create a sitemap of your content. Creating overlapping or synonymous categories and tags means that these taxonomy pages will compete with each other for search ranking. This also makes it harder for readers to navigate your site.
To learn more, see Yoast's article on category and tag pages.
Effective category and tag use
You should add categories and tags to your posts with the goal of helping readers find related content on your site. Use these tips when adding categories and tags to your posts.
- Add a clear and specific category to each post. Don't leave a post as Uncategorized.
- Keep your blog focused. If a post doesn't fit in with an established category, consider omitting the topic from your blog.
- Ask yourself if the category or tag archive you create is something you would ever consult if it appeared on another blog.
- Create multiple categories or tags for similar topics. For example, if your blog focuses on divorce law, don't create categories and tags for "divorce," "divorced," "divorces," and "divorcing."
- Use categories or tags to trick search engines into driving users to your site. Search engines are very good at spotting and penalizing sites that use spammy tagging.
- Add excessive tags to posts. Adding a dozen tags to a post can make your blog look unprofessional.
- Add tags for things you're not likely to ever write about again.