What are WordPress categories and tags?

WordPress websites have a two-level taxonomy. This post explains how to harness this hierarchy to:

  • keep your site organised
  • help your visitors find the right content
  • increase traffic to your site (by aligning your taxonomy with your SEO strategy, targeting your taxonomy with kws and automatically creating kw targeted landing pages for your content)

Let’s get organised

Organsing your WP site

First things first. It’s important to bear in mind the difference between categories and tags.

Categories are like the table of contents of you site’s posts. Tags are more like the index. As such, you shouldn’t (disclaimer: except in exceptional cases) include a single post in multiple categories.

If you plan your taxonomy correctly, both essentially create a series of extra landing pages that are ready-made for targeting more general keywords than individual posts and therefore don’t directly compete with those pages. This also means that you can target more specific keyword searches with your individual posts. A post about Black Sabbath can target the keyword ‘Black Sabbath’, while the ‘Heavy Metal’ category you place the post inside can target the keyword ‘Heavy Metal’.

A major reason for this is that categories can better optimise your content for search engines by targeting higher-level keywords. If you run a website about rock music, you can use your category pages

It’s also possible to set a parent for each category, so categories can be a multi-level hierarchy. Tags cannot be nested.


If categories are your site’s table of contents, tags are more like your site’s index. They can be more detailed and more specific:

  • No duplicates
  • Posts should belong to one category (with special case exceptions)
  • Contents/index
  • Categories are best for SEO focus
  • Categories can be nested (you can have assign a parent category to a category); you can’t with tags
  • Tags should be more detailed/specific that categories
  • Categories should be indexed; tags should not be (the easiest way to set this using Yoast SEO plugin

You shouldn’t have a category that is also a tag (from an SEO perspective, which should rank?)

Of course, WP has the added benefit of being able to list each piece of content under a variety of categories, but it’s important not to go mad adding a million tags and categories to your content.

Categories and tags can be set on custom post types like products, portfolio items, services, and team members in addition to posts and pages. With a plugin such as Enhanced Media Library you can even add a custom taxonomy to your images and other media items, enabling you to filter media items far more intelligently than the out-the-box settings allow.

Each taxonomy item you use creates a new URL – meaning you effectively have a ready-made page at your disposal that updates as your organise and reorgansise your content.

Use for: navigation, intelligently relating posts to each other,

If I told you that 1 in every 20 blog referrals are from a tag page found in google, you might think twice about ignoring them.

Duplicate content concerns: https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html – Google’s own disclaimer, way back in 2008, stated (fittingly) categorically that they will never penalise WP users for duplicate content arising from use of tags and categories. Google’s (fittingly) categorical attempt to ‘put this to bed once and for all’.

No duplicate content penalty arises from WP users’ category and tag pages.

Google understands that correct use of taxonomy is not an attempt to deceive users or search engines into believing a site has more or better content, but is in fact used to assist the visitor.


It’s become something of a cliché, but it’s a good illustration of the point.

Contents/index: https://managewp.com/wordpress-categories-tags-seo, http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/categories-vs-tags-seo-best-practices-which-one-is-better/,


But don’t go mad

Over-categorising can lead to its own issues. You sometimes find a blog in which almost every post is in almost every category. This makes the whole process redundant, as the taxonomy no longer serves the purpose of assisting navigation or filtering. If your categories all list the same content, you’re not helping anyone.

If your website is used for your personal training business, you don’t need a category called Personal Training. But you probably do want categories on Exercise, Nutrition, Running, and so on. You might then have tags on Marathon Running, Short-distance Running, and so on.


Why not actually link to your categories?

In some cases, we even use category pages as top-level pages.


Planning your site taxonomy

You should think about your taxonomy early in the process of designing a site. For one thing, it’s far easy to maintain a taxonomy that’s been well thought out in the beginning. Going through the process of planning a taxonomy also helps you think about the component parts of your business, your service offering and the varying needs and interests of your clients and customers.

Can I copy content from other sites for my own website?

In general, the answer is no.

If you want to copy content from another source you can do so but only in order to highlight that content. That means you can include an extract with attribution and a link back to the original, but you cannot simply copy someone else’s work.

If you do not cite the author, readers will think it is your work. This means you are claiming credit for someone else’s work and is called plagiarism. It’s illegal.

If you publish someone else’s work without the appropriate licence or permission you are committing copyright piracy. It’s also illegal.

Please also note that you may be in breach of copyright if you simply change a few words or alter the order of sentences and paragraphs. You are still stealing someone else’s work.

Write in your own words and if it’s really important to mention the precise words that someone else has used, use quotation marks and either link to the original if it is online or cite the work if it is in print. The internet is built on links – that’s why it’s a network. Linking to sites helps your visitors find other content that might be of interest to them and helps search engines understand what your website and webpage is about. Take advantage of them.

Adding new content to your site is really important, but that content should be both interesting to your audience and unique. You can by all means highlight someone else’s work and provide a link to the original if you think it’s of interest (just like when you share a post on Facebook or retweet something). But, if the content already exists, simply copying it verbatim or bodging it to try and claim credit while avoiding obvious plagiarism makes you look unprofessional, dishonest and lacking in creativity.

There are a couple of exceptions.

Works in the public domain or published under some Creative Commons licences can be used, sometimes without attribution. But you should still consider if you want to do so. The odd quote from the Bible or Moby Dick might well add something to your text, but copying large swathes of writing that already exist on countless other webpages is probably a bad idea.

Duplicate content

Even if an organisation or a client or friend says you can copy their work, it might still be a bad idea to do it. This is because Google will view the content as already published and consider your page worthless because it’s a copy of something that already exists. Think about it: Google wants to return a variety of interesting, relevant responses to search queries. If they indexed new copies of existing content they risk returning a list of results containing essentially the same content.

Take away these points:

  • If you must include text from other sites, always include attribution and/or a link to the original
  • Only use an excerpt
  • People come to your site because you claim to be THE EXPERT in your subject. If you copy content because you can’t find the time or motivation to produce your own, don’t be surprised if your visitors start to question your expertise and integrity and go elsewhere.

If we’re building your website and you have agreed to send us the written content, please please please tell us if you send plagiarised content. If you want our copywriters to use sources you send to produce new content, they are happy to do so – but we will not publish content you’ve copied and pasted from other sites.