(a) What is the difference between category and tag in wordpress?
(b) How do we use it effectively for SEO?
That’s a very good question(s) there. I believe many of us had it in mind but did not quite ask it out probably.
Let me try to answer.
We have to see this in two perspectives.
i) The functionality/usability perspective
ii) The SEO perspective
If we take the functionality perspective, on the first look both tags and categories look alike.
Because, they do the same job.
Tags and categories, both are used to label or name articles and arrange them.
If a user clicks on a tag/category URL, he is taken to a page with relevant information.
And there ends the similarity.
Take the usability perspective.
When are tags used?
Tags are used when you have an article that’s already written and you want as many descriptions to it that will associate that article to various topics.
Ex:- In an article about Michael Jackson, I may use tags like “king of pop” “MJ” and “Michael jackson”
These tags are one-word descriptions of the most important aspects of the article. I’d say – they are tentacles you gift your article so that it can reach out to other social media channels out there on the web, like Technorati for instance.
On WordPress, tags are used to label a particular article with the most prominent keywords or commonly recognizable words.
Coming to Categories,
When are categories used?
Categories are used to arrange a set of articles that falls into a common label by a common name.
For example, ten articles that I wrote about artists can be fled under the category – Pop. In the Pop category, there would be articles about Michael Jackson, Madonna and MLTR.
Differences in usage
- Tags are used to label important commonly recognizable keywords/topics in a single article. While categories are used to arrange more than one article into a common label.
- Tags are written once the article is written, while categories are made even before the articles are written.
- All categories can be tags but not all tags can be categories.
Ok, so let’s now take the SEO perspective.
If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’d have understood that while using categories, file only one article on one category. Filing a single article into more than one category increases the chances of duplicate content hence avoid it instead use one category for one article.
And that’s why tags are here. Tags allow you to use them on more than one article and make things simple. No long sidebars with long category lists, no or less duplicate content issues and no confusion.
So in the SEO perspective, both tags and categories pose a threat of duplicate content if used un necessarily and in the wrong way. But if you use them properly, then the duplicate content issues are minimized.
URL – Both the categories and tags have the same structure.
www.domain.com/tag/post and www.domain.com/category/post
But category will have more importance and page rank in Google’s eye rather than tags just because Category comes in on a higher hierarchy while tags comes down in a lower level.
So essentially, categories and tags serve the same purpose. But they support different entities. While an article can be multiple tagged, it is not adviceable to multi categorize an article. SEO wise, if they are used as per what they are really intended to be, they pose no threat but otherwise, they may take you to trouble.