WordPress tags are labels you apply to blog posts to classify them and make it easier to understand what they’re about. Often compared to categories, they are mainly used to sort posts with similar topics so that readers can easily find them on your site.
Despite being a simple feature, WordPress tags can be a helpful tool to improve your search engine ranking and user experience. In this article, we’ll discuss how they differ from categories, how to add and edit them on WordPress, and three tricks to optimizing tags for your site.
How are Tags Different from WordPress Categories?
Categories and tags have the same objective — to help organize content on WordPress websites, particularly blogs. However, they mainly differ in how they are used.
Generally, WordPress categories are utilized to group all posts in larger scopes. The terms used to label categories can usually inform viewers of the main topics of your content.
For instance, if you have a tech review site, you can organize your blog posts by the type of gadgets — such as Smartphones, Laptops, Cameras, Tablets, and so on.
Though there are no restrictions for the number of categories you can make, it’s recommended to only create a few. One reason is that since they would often get displayed on the navigation sidebar, so more than a handful would make it cluttered.
Categories are also useful to establish your website’s hierarchy. You can make subgroups within your categories to create a clearer structure for search engines and users to navigate. If you don’t create categories, all your posts will be automatically grouped as Uncategorized by WordPress.
On the other hand, tags in WordPress are for labeling and indicating what a particular post is mainly about. They would typically describe the various topics the post covers or relates to.
Say you’re posting a review about the latest Google Pixel phone. The post’s category can be “Smartphones,” while the tags can be “Android” and “Google Pixel”. You may also add terms that describe the gadget, like “high-range budget” and “wireless charging.”
The key benefit of using tags is that they can encourage visitors to stay longer on your site. When readers find these tags, they can click on one and head to an archive page that consists of posts with similar subjects. As a result, you’ll have increased page views and decreased exit rates.
Consequently, search engines will assume that your site is useful and high-quality, which can improve your ranking on relevant SERPs.
You can include as many tags as you like — however, it’s best to keep ones that are most relevant and useful.
Additionally, tags are not hierarchical or compulsory to use.
On a related note, be careful not to use the same tags on the majority of your posts. If you find yourself doing so, these tags are better off converted to a subcategory or category.
To show what tags and categories look like in practice, take a look at this Apple Pie recipe post by the food blog A Couple Cooks.
This post is classified in the Desserts category, which you can access from the homepage. If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see various tags they have used to describe the post — like Apple and Thanksgiving. This way, readers can explore recipes made with the same ingredient or for the same occasion.
As you can see, you can use WordPress tags however you want — so long as they improve user experience and help search engines understand your site.
How to Add Tags to a WordPress Post
Adding tags to your blog post is an easy task. You can do so by accessing the content editor when editing a new or existing post. Insert tags from the Tags section on the right side. If you’re using the Gutenberg Editor, you can find it in the Documents tab.
When including multiple tags, make sure to separate each of them with a comma. It’s best practice to keep up to 15. Also, make sure to use title capitalization since these tags will appear on the page title.
Other than that, avoid using the same words for your categories in your tags. This could create duplicate content on your site, which is not good for SEO.
Alternatively, you can go to Posts -> All Posts and click Quick Edit on the post you want to add tags to. Enter tags in the designated Tags box. Once you’re done, press Update.
How to Edit Tags
To manage your tags, navigate to the Posts -> Tags submenu. Below the tag that you want to modify, click Edit. Here, you’ll get to change the Name, Slug, and Description.
When editing the tags’ slugs, make sure that each one is unique. They will be easier to differentiate for you, your users, and search engines.
Also, keep in mind that whether the tag’s description appears on your site depends on the theme you’re using.
If you have finished editing, click the Update button.
Tricks to Using WordPress Tags
Now that you know the basics of WordPress tags, here are three ways you can use them to improve your site.
1. Linking to Your Tags
Once you have a few posts using the same tag, include the tag’s permalinks in other posts to invite readers to browse your content further.
For instance, you can put a sentence like the following at the end of a blog post: “Like this article? Check out my other Android phone reviews here [link to tag’s permalink].”
This is called internal linking, which is a part of SEO best practices. This enables search engines to understand your content and site structure better. Not to mention, visitors will feel more enticed to explore your pages further.
To do this, go to Posts -> Add New and write down the word or phrase you want to add a link to. Then block the text, click the Link icon, and copy and paste your tag’s permalink from the tag’s archive page. You may also set the link to Open in New Tab.
Hit the Arrow button next to the field and you’re done.
2. Show a Tag Cloud on Your Sidebar
One way to display your tags on your site is by adding a Tag Cloud on a widget-area. A Tag Cloud works to show all the tags used in your blog posts. In some themes, it would also indicate which tags are most often used by making the term’s font size larger, like this:
To create one, go to Appearance -> Widgets on your dashboard and locate the Tag Cloud widget. Drag it to your desired area and include a Title if needed. You may opt to show the number of times the tags have been used by ticking Show tag counts. Click Save once you’re done.
If you want a more visually appealing Tag Cloud, you can use plugins like Cool Tag Cloud. This one, in particular, allows you to customize the colors, size, and the number of tags displayed.
3. Try to Name Tags Consistently
Lastly, make sure to have a consistent naming system to avoid duplicating content and conflicts with categories.
Start by determining if the tags should have a specific purpose. For example, the food blog Cookie and Kate use tags only to describe the ingredients used in a recipe. In this post, the tags used are “broccoli”, “cheddar”, and “potatoes”.
This way, the tags and categories each have a clear function in organizing blog posts. Additionally, the blogger knows which terms are most relevant and important to add as tags.
Also, decide whether to use singular or plural forms only. It’s better to stick with one so that you won’t have more than one archive page for the same topic.
Tags in WordPress are labels you use to sort blog posts by their content. Similar to categories, they can help optimize your site’s navigability, which is essential for user experience and SEO.
Unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical. There is also no limit to how many tags you can include, but it’s best to use terms that are most useful.
To add tags in a blog post, insert them in the Tags section on the right side of the content editor. You can also do it through Quick Edit. Should you need to manage your tags, head to Posts -> Tags. Click Edit on your selected tag and modify the name, slug, and description to your liking.