The Difference Between Tags and Categories

When I first started blogging, I categorized and tagged like crazy, thinking it would be great for SEO. As I gained more experience blogging I started to realize that simple was better and I began to rethink my strategy for categorizing content. I started to think that maybe putting posts in a ton of categories and tags might not be such a good thing. Here are some things to consider when it comes to tagging and categorizing your WordPress content.

What Are Categories?

In the simplest explanation possible, categories are simply a hierarchical way to organize content. Let’s use a bucket analogy for this. If you create a category then it’s basically a giant bucket for anything that fits into that category. If you write 10 blogs posts that are somehow related to one subject, they would go into that one giant category bucket.

Categories have a hierarchy, meaning that you can organize sub-categories under categories to narrow things down. The way you organize these categories determines how WordPress displays them. For example, in WordPress when you click a category it will take you to a page that will display the title and excerpt from all the articles that have been placed in that category. Also, you can place a category slug on that page, a short description of everything in that category (which is wise for SEO purposes). If you’re theme supports drop-down menus, then sub-categories will usually be displayed under those menus.

What Are Tags?

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To make things a little more confusing, tags are another way to categorize content. But instead of creating a giant bucket of related articles, you’re creating a smaller bucket for only 1 or 2 blog posts. Tags are perfect for blog posts that don’t have their own category, but you’d like for them to be parsed in a way that treats them like they have their own category. But tags are NOT categories.

Tags don’t have a hierarchy like categories do. You cannot arrange tags under other tags, tags are linear and each exists as the same weight as other tags, unlike categories. Also, in WordPress, you cannot place slug descriptions on a tag page. However, a Tag page will look very similar to a category page when you click it.

What Are They Not?

It’s a very difficult to distinguish the difference between tags and categories but the simple way to say it is: Tags are NOT categories and categories are NOT tags.

SEO Issues

You need to be careful in what you allow the search engine to crawl. For example, if you tag things like crazy, that means that you’ll have the same content in multiple parts of your blog. The search engines are notorious for penalizing this type of duplicate content. So, it’s important to edit your blog sitemap so that the search engines aren’t crawling every single tag and category of you’re site. So, what should you let them crawl?

Simplicity Strategy

I like the idea of the search engines having free reign over the content. So, I usually arrange it in a way to avoid too much duplicate content. Search Engines understand the architecture of WordPress, so it’s important to exploit that.

The best way to avoid duplicate content issues is to apply the simplicity doctrine, also known as KISS. What this means is that when running a WordPress blog, you should be very selective in how to categorize or tag your content.

My winning SEO strategy is to create a small number of categories (24 or less) and only select ONE category for a blog post. If you feel you have a great post that deserves it’s own category, think long and hard about this. Will you be writing more posts in the category? If not, then simply Tag it. If you become selective about how your posts get categorized, then you’ll understand quickly what should be tagged.

I simply use tagging as a way to describe content that DOES NOT deserve it’s own category. I let the search engine bots crawl it all and I’ve had no SEO issues.

One last thing worth noting is that it’s important for people to be able to easily browse your categories and tags. So, it’s a good idea to have a category drop down menu in the sidebar, as well as a tag cloud so that people can easily find what subjects they’re interested in.

How do you deal with categories and tags on your own blog?

How To Move Your WordPress.com Content to a Custom WP Installation

Moving On Up

I have been helping out a very design and web savvy friend lately with a new enterprise she is undertaking using the WordPress sandbox. I find this interesting because this friend was actually far ahead of the curve when it comes to blogging as she used to run an excellent blog site that was in fact built from scratch some eight or nine years ago. Her original site used some custom php and MySQL underneath a handsome and clever design to essentially post articles, link them to one another and even used categories for navigating through the content.

These days that doesn’t seem quite so impressive since anyone can sign up for a free blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com and be up and running in minutes.

But as I have mentioned before, these free blog services eventually come at a price. The new user will quickly discover that any sort of “premium” features – specialized plugins, extra storage space, custom domains and even themes are paid services and soon enough they will find that they need the extra tools but fear they can’t abandon all the content they have so painstakingly created.

The good news, as I explained to my friend, is that moving from (most) of these free services to a custom WordPress installation (WordPress is by now unquestionably the blogging platform of choice) is a lot easier than one might suspect. Here are the instructions as outlined at the WordPress Support Edtv movie full pages:

“1) In the old blog, go to Tools -> Export

and download the XML file to your computer.

2) In the new blog, go to Tools -> Import and upload the XML file you downloaded in step 1.

Note: This will move your your posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags; any uploads and images will need to be manually transferred to the new blog.”

First Things First

Of course, before any of this is possible, you will need to set up an account with a Host Provider (I mentioned several of these in my article about getting started) and then register your own domain name.

Once you are all done with that, you will likely use Fantastico or Simple Scripts to do a quick install of WordPress on your new server, be it a shared or dedicated option.

Then you will likely want to follow the many excellent tips and resources on this site to get everything humming along smoothly.

Finally, from your admin panel, select the Import option, locate you exported XML file and upload. Presto, watch your new, very own, infinitely expandable, with no one watching your back, WP site magically repopulate with all your old content. Couldn’t be easier.

But Before We Go…

One caveat, I did mention in my article about Tags and Categories that when importing from a Blogger.com account funky things can happen between tags and categories. In this case, you may want to do some cleanup and reorganize your tags and categories before going live.

About the Author:
Keram (follow him on twitter @ConstantChange) is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com

Four Key Elements to Improving Your Article's SEO Rank

While blogging is intrinsically a very search-engine friendly medium due to its inherently dynamic nature (search engine crawlers love to feed on fresh, original content) and is further aided in this regard by comments and pingbacks to your article by readers and other sites, there are some things you can do to improve and optimize how you structure your posts to get the maximum impact with the search engines.  These are not dirty tricks, but rather best practices that will help ensure when someone does a search for something having to do with the subject you are writing about, they have a better chance at finding your hard-wrought post and not some lazy Splog.

Can You See The Target

Preparing for this requires identifying exactly what is the subject of your article and from that determining what key words, or Keywords, as they are better known, underline that subject.

Once you have identified your main and several ancillary keywords, look for the following areas within which to implement them (and as often as possible without letting it deteriorate the quality of your content).

Four Key Elements For Optimizing Your Content For Searches

The first and most important element is the Title of your article.  This is simply accomplished by incorporating your principal keywords into the title itself.

The next place to include your targeted keyword(s) is in the URL for your article.  Go to your Admin Section->Settings->Permalinks and make sure you have selected Custom Structure and input %postname% in the text field.  This is something that should be set from day one of your blog.  This will allow you to customize the URL for every individual post you publish.  At the top of of your post editing page, just below the title field, you should see:

Permalink: http://yourblog.com/the-title-of-your-article“  and then an Edit button.  The text following your domain name should be a series of words based on your title, separated by dashes.  Make sure your keyword is among these words.

On the right side of your article entry is a section called “Tags.”  This is an obvious place to include your keywords.  You can also use a plugin like WP Auto-Tagger or Tag Suggest Thing , both which compare strong keywords at Yahoo and other search engines to tags based on:

The Content of your post feldene A Bunch of Amateurs movie full – make sure you are writing and writing well about what you want people to find when they search for your topic of interest.  You might fool them once, but they won’t come back for a second helping of the old bait and switch.

As a blogger you are providing an information service for which you strive to be the best provider of content on any given topic.  Even if it is a journal about your own little corner of the small town you grew up in, you should strive to be the best writer on that topic and build a site that helps people find it.  The best writers understand the most interesting stuff has to do writing what you know in your own voice – because it is your personal and unique idiosyncrasies that make you a specialist.  When you try to write about subjects you know nothing about, then you are an also ran.

I hope these optimization tips will help lead your audience to you.

About the Author:

Keram is a new media consultant, music producer, actor and writer who opines on SEO at blogging-fool.com and society at theculturepin.com. Listen to his podcast at KeramCast.com Lethal Weapon movie download and find him on Twitter @ConstantChange.