Categories and tags help you organize your posts and group like content together. This makes it easier for people to find your content. Categories are similar to, but broader than tags. Carrie shares tips on when to use one or the other. Learn how to create, edit, and remove categories and tags as well as how to associate them with posts.
- [Voiceover] As you add more and more content to your site, the challenge will be to organize it in an easy to understand way. Otherwise it'll become near impossible for your readers to find it. This is why in WordPress we sort posts using categories and tags. Categories and tags are the two main ways WordPress uses to associate posts with each other. With categories, you need to apply at least one to every post. Categories are hierarchical, meaning they can have parent-child relationships. Tags, on the other hand, are not hierarchical, meaning they have no relationships to any other tag.
Let's look at a practical example. Consider a grocery store. This is where you would typically organize things into main groups. You might have produce, meats, dairy, et cetera. These would be categories, general groupings of similar items that are clearly associated with each other. Let's take it a step further and say that we want to organize the meats category into the subcategories of poultry, beef, and pork. You get the idea. Now think of tags as the nutritional information label on the side of products in our grocery store.
These tags tell us the details of what's inside, such as sugars, proteins, or carbs. That's all good information but you'd never use those things as categories, although I wouldn't mind an aisle at the grocery store dedicated to sugar. So that's how categories and tags work. Categories are the main way to group posts, and tags are the smaller details that connect posts together. Let's take a look at an actual post. You can add categories and tags to your post from the Post Editor. From my site I can edit the post I created earlier by going to Blog Posts, looking in Drafts, and clicking the Edit button.
In the side area there's a section called Categories & Tags. It's collapsed by default but we can open that up to reveal the options. Now I've got a handful of categories I've already gone in and added for this course. If you're working with a brand new wordpress.com site, the only category you'll see is the one called Uncategorized. Categories are mandatory. Every post has to be assigned at least one, so if you don't add a post to any category, it'll default to this Uncategorized category.
I want to point out how the Short Stories category I created has two subcategories, Dramatic and Scary. In this example, Short Stories is the parent category and Dramatic and Scary are child categories. Adding a new category is as simple as clicking this Add New Categories link. That brings up a window where I can type in the new category name. You can select if you want it to be a Top level category, or select a parent category. In this case I'll select Short Stories as the parent category and then create new category called Funny.
Now I can click Add and this post is automatically assigned to that Funny category. You can see now that this post has two categories, Funny and Uncategorized. I don't need Uncategorized anymore, so I'll uncheck that. Now this post is only visibly categorized as Funny. It inherits the parent category Short Stories automatically, but that won't show visibly unless I check the Short Stories category. For this example, I'll go ahead and do that so we can see.
This page is still in Draft mode, but let's go ahead and publish it by clicking the Publish button. I can visit this post by clicking the View Post link. One thing we'll notice while we're here, we have this pop-up message letting us know that sometimes a visitor may see an advertisement here. That's because we're on the free plan. The advertisements don't show up on every post, but this is letting us know that sometimes they will. I'm gonna go ahead and Dismiss this Message. Continuing down to the end of my post, I can see that we've got the categories of Funny and Short Stories assigned.
I'm gonna click the Short Stories category, and that'll take me to a category index for Short Stories. Here I'll get all the posts that are categorized as Short Stories, including ones categorized with the subcategories of Dramatic, Scary, or Funny. Now if I go to the index for Funny, I would only get the post categorized under Funny. This is how category hierarchy works. One more note on organization. Try to keep your categories to a minimum. You don't want to have a bunch of categories you hardly use or ones that are so specific that they only apply to one or two posts.
Make a plan for what categories you need and expand it only when you need to. Let's talk about tags. Unlike categories, you're not required to have tags. Tags are free text, meaning that you type in whatever tag you want to apply to your post and either hit Enter after each one or a comma. As you start typing any tags that are already in your system will come up here in this suggested list. By the way you can delete tags by clicking X. For this particular post, I'd like to add the tags of dog and crayon.
You can see how those words are specific and descriptive, but they wouldn't really make good categories. So let's update this post and go have a look. Here in the post meta I can see we've still got our categories and now we also have the tags of crayon and dog. An important thing to note about tags that is not true of categories, tags are case sensitive. For example, I already have this tag called dog with a lowercase d. But I could add a Dog with a capital D and that would be two separate tags.
So be mindful when you're making tags to be consistent with how you write them out. Otherwise you can end up with a jumble of tags that are variations on the same word. One final word about categories and tags. You can go back and change the categories and tags associated with the post at any time. Simply go into your Post Editor and add, remove or change as desired.
- Creating a WordPress.com account
- Updating your profile
- Importing content
- Publishing posts
- Applying categories and tags to posts
- Inserting images, videos, and other media
- Creating a new page
- Customizing your site with themes and widgets
- Managing users, notifications, and comments
- Using WordPress.com apps
- The limits of WordPress.com and the benefits of self-hosting