Using Tags in WordPress

WordPress features categories and tags. They’re basically the same, but a post can only be in one category and have multiple tags. So, as categories are like the ugly stepbrother of tags, you should use tags to identify what your blogpost is all about. Many plugins like the Efficient Related Posts plugin rely on tags, and tags are also good for your Google-and-other-search-indexer ranking, as these are additional words people might have searched for.

What do we gain by using tags? The above plugin gives me the biggest reason to use tags. As I describe with them what content is in the text, I can make sure readers get presented more posts with similar topics. This might help the reader and might make them want to read more stuff. Which is really nice. But there’s more. I just used the Simple Tags – WordPress plugin to rename my formerly german-spelled tags (like “Philosphisches”) to their english equivalent (like “Philosophy”). This way, I can divide between my english and german posts more. I also tagged all my english posts as “english” and all my german posts with “german” and “deutsch”, this way the related posts plugin will most likely give you more related english posts if you read an english post and vice-versa. Additionally, everyone can now use a URL like http://www.ithoughts.de/tag/German to only see all posts tagged with the certain key word … using the above tag, my visitors can read all posts written in german.

Use Tags. Even if Category is a nicer and more understandable term, tagging is what you want to do – and what is supported more.

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, Posted Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 under Privat.

5 comments

  1. That’s not correct, a WP article can be in as many categories as you like.
    I use a small number of categories and a larger number of tags, but both have their specific use imho.

  2. Ah I see. This makes even lesser sense to me. Categories are therefore equivalent with tags… Are there plugins taking advance of categories then, or for which other reason do they exist? Evolutionary growth?

  3. Well, they are pretty much interchangeable, but I still like to use both of them, for the following reason:
    I have only a small number of categories (Abroad, English, German, Have a look, Linux & Programming, Politics, Other), which I use to have major/rough categorisation for every article, which is good for general sorting. The categories generally don’t change, or only at very few times.
    For a more detailed structure I use tags. I somewhat try not to have an endless number of tags, but I am much less strict about introducing new tags. So these are used for fine sorting of articles, if someone is interested in a specific topic.

    By using it this way, both have their specific value. Structurally of course, there isn’t a real difference, more in the way you use them.

  4. Okay so the semantic value is why you use it. I would think it would make sense if there were links in the header of a page linking to “only this category”, but otherwise I still don’t like them. :-)

    I also have tags with a bigger “value” like “English” and “German” that can be used to only see my english or my german posts – I’m planning to put in flag-links for those once I cleaned up that tag-view on the articles.

    Especially the “efficient related posts”-plugin is what I like most about tags – and using categories would work wrong way then, as the tag programming and english would lead more people to other realted posts, whereas using a “programming” category wouldn’t be considered and present a lower connection to that other english programming post.

  5. I mostly use the categories as tags, too, so if an article is sorted under the category “English”, it has the same tag as well. Haven’t had done this in every article however, so it’s somewhat inconsistent until I clean up.
    I don’t have the categories in the header, but in the sidebar. There’s some arguments for putting them in the header, but didn’t want to mess with the layout too much for now. But it’s an idea actually, I’ll think about that.

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