Categories vs Tags in Wordpress - Seeking help in Laymans Terms and specific instructions on how to do what I need

Andrew Leniart
Andrew Leniart used Ask the Experts™
I'm doing some SEO work on my own Wordpress website to improve my chances of it popping up in search results and recently posted a question here where I got some very useful tips and information.

Per the information I've been given, I'm currently looking at Categories vs Tags as suggested by an expert in my other question.

I suggest you change this in WP to use /tag/page or /category/page 

My problem is that I don't fully understand the help article that I've been pointed to.

Can anyone explain the differences between the two to me in layman's terms, as well as perhaps include a screenshot or two of what I'm supposed to be changing and where, in Wordpress?

My wordpress skills are fairly basic so please don't assume too much knowledge - what I'm after is specific directions as to what to change and in what areas of Wordpress I'm supposed to be making those changes.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Regards, Andrew
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In Wordpress, categories, you usually setup beforehand (in the admin panel) , and maybe put them in a hierarchy like

category a
 - category a.1
 - category a.2
category b

It can also be easily listed if anyone is interested in your categories.

Tags, you usually do on the fly, short words describing what the post is about:
cooking, travel, etc etc

Both can be found using links or search. In the end, if you consistently use both responsibly, anyone interesting in one of your subjects (be it a category or a tag), they should be easy to find all post regarding this topic.
Chief Technology Ninja
Distinguished Expert 2018
Hi Andrew,

I would take a chance here with example of EE. You can post a question in a topic area, the topic areas are Categories. Now, if we wanted to provided additional contexts to only this particular question, we would use Tags(Unfortunately EE does not have that feature). Central idea is Categories are well defined, generic and limited while tags are casual, very specific (To the post OR question) and are not restricted in terms of numbers.

Categories you will define at the Blog level via your dashboard

WP Categories
And tags you will define on each post, Assuming you are using Web interface of Wordpress to author these posts:

WP Tags
Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist | Looking for Opportunities
Distinguished Expert 2018


Thank you Chinmay, that was exactly the type of explanation I needed.

Now I understand what the help article I looked at is talking about :)

Regards, Andrew
Scott FellDeveloper & EE Moderator
Fellow 2018
Most Valuable Expert 2013

What I was referring to in the other question really was the taxonomy/url structure.  Wordpress gives you options to use categories and/or tags with page names.  



If you chose to set up WP for sitename/category/tag/pagename  - home page - main security page that will contain posts for everything with the category of  'security'. - main page for all posts that contain the category 'security' and the tag, 'virus'  - detail page about wanna cry which contains the category security and tag virus.

You will want to get this all planned out to allow everything to line up correctly. There is no rule to go by except to be consistent. If you don't have enough information to use /category/tag/pagename, then just use categories.

If you do end up changing your taxonomy, then either use a plug in or update your htaccess/web.config to manage 301 redirects from the old to the new.
Andrew LeniartIT Professional | Freelance Journalist | Looking for Opportunities
Distinguished Expert 2018


Thanks for the additional information, Scott.

I plan to go over all my posts once I tidy up the categories - I recall setting them up yonks ago without really knowing what I was doing and the web guys I've hired to re-do the site for me professionally obviously just followed my lead and didn't change anything, despite telling me that SEO work was included in the (rather high) cost of redesigning the site. That horse has long since bolted so too late to do anything about it now.

I'm thinking of reducing the categories and inserting appropriate Tags by revisiting all of my previous posts. This will take a bit of work, but I'm hoping the effort will prove worth it.

Thanks also for the link to your answer in the other question on EE. Useful info there that I'll take on board.

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