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Create Categories & Tags in WordPress

WordPress provides two ways to organize and classify your posts: categories and tags. Categories have been around for ages, tags came about a few years ago. You are free to use them in any way that suits you. But the folks at WordPress have defined the intended use of categories and tags. I tend to use them in much the same way and so will describe that here.

Categories

When I begin a new blog, I think about the topic and look for broad categories in which my future posts will likely fit. Much as I organize my filing cabinets with files in broad topics (such as “automobile” or “holidays”), I try to select a few, generally applicable categories.

To set up your selected categories, follow these steps:
Go to: http://www.YourNewDomain.com/wp-admin

Login using the username and password provided you by Win with 1.

In the left sidebar, select Posts>Categories. Enter the new name in the “Add Category” field. Use something short and descriptive.

Add a slug in the “Category Slug” field. I will generally use the same words that I used for the category name, only will no capital letters and hyphens in between words.

For example, on my mortgage-free home blog, I have the following categories and slugs:

  • Pre-Construction
    pre-construction
  • Site Work
    site-work
  • Exterior
    exterior
  • Foundation & Framing
    foundation-framing
  • Rough-Ins
    rough-ins
  • Interior
    interior
  • Landscaping
    landscaping
  • Post-Construction
    post-construction
  • Finances
    finances
  • Decorating
    decorating
  • General Living
    general-living
  • Pixel Ads
    pixel-ads
  • Contests
    contests

Later, when I actually write a post, I select the appropriate category or categories that fit the content.

You can also add categories on the fly — while writing a new post — if the correct categories are not available. To do this, follow these steps:

In the right sidebar of your Add New Post page, find the Categories heading.

Select “+ Add New Category.”

Type in the new category name.

If you want to make this new category a subcategory, select the “Parent category” in the drop down menu.

Click the “Add” button.

Tags

When the new post is ready to publish, take a minute to add the appropriate tags. I use the tags as a way to further clarify the article theme and content. For example, if the article was categorized as “automobile,” the possible tags might be: tires, insurance, maintenance, or Toyota. If the category was “holidays,” the possible tags might be: Christmas, entertaining, or menus.

Make your tags more specific. You can use as many as are pertinent to the article and they can be longer if it makes sense. To add tags, simply follow these steps:

In the right sidebar, find the “Post Tags” heading.

Enter all the tags you like, separating each one with a comma.

Alternately, you can click the “Choose from the most used tags in Post Tags” link to select popular tags you’ve used before. [Note: this list will not include all the tags you’ve ever used.]

When you are satisfied with your list, click the “Add” button.

Some of the tags on the mortgage-free home blog include:

  • house plans
  • square footage
  • kitchen
  • blueprints
  • appliances
  • mortgage
  • cabinets
  • toys
  • light fixtures

With your posts properly categorized and tagged, you make it easier for people to find your site and then find the content they are interested in. This also aids tag-based blog search sites like Technorati and  Del.icio.us.  Make sure you take the time to categorize and tag each of your new posts.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • OntoG November 21, 2009, 5:52 am

    Have to thank you for this post. I’ve used Wordpress for a long time and used categories. But when the tags came along I had no idea what they were for, seemed redundant. This post clarified for me.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 21, 2009, 9:49 pm

    Onto, glad it could be of help. I was confused at first, too.

    My biggest problem with the tags is that I have some blogs that redate the tags by YEARS. Without tags, I created myriad categories, most with subcategories. Now that tags are available, I’m not sure I want to move to a new scheme and go back and re-categorize tons of categories and add tags to hundreds of old posts.

  • Keith January 1, 2010, 11:08 pm

    Because I like to use the category/postname permalink setup, I try to only use one category and maybe 2-3 tags per post. I look at it as category=folder and tag=subfolders that way the category is more broad (as you stated and the tgs narrow it down a little.
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..10 Goals for 2010 =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 2, 2010, 3:33 am

    Thanks for the input, Keith. The flexibility in these features means that hearing many views can really help new bloggers see how categories and tags will work best for them. Yours are appreciated.

  • Anne January 2, 2010, 3:37 am

    Excellent post for people who are new to Wordpress. Bookmarked so that I can refer friends.
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..Where to Find People to Follow on Twitter =-.

  • Dana January 2, 2010, 3:49 am

    I use the tag as keyword optimizing, therefore i will fill the tags with proper keyword of the current article. And for category, i use it like in this article.
    .-= Dana @ Blogging Update´s last blog ..Blog in New Year 2010 =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 2, 2010, 5:13 am

    Anne, thanks for the encouragement.

    Dana, I read recently that there can be an SEO problem when people use site keywords in tagging, when the particularly post being tagged doesn’t use those specific keywords. Do you agree?

    As with lots of SEO stuff, that may be more or less true, but I think it’s worth noting. It may be a good idea to keep the keywords post-specific when using them in tags.

  • ileane January 2, 2010, 7:12 am

    Thanks for clarifying the differences and explaining how this works. I’ll need it soon.

    @Ileane
    .-= ileane´s last blog ..Google Page Rank on a WordPress.com Blog =-.

  • MrCyberSmart January 2, 2010, 1:51 pm

    “I try to only use one category and maybe 2-3 tags per post”
    Great post with good info. I’m with Keith on keeping the cats down to a min. It’s cool to place posts in sub-categories, but you should avoid placing a post in multiple categories. Confuses the cyber critters. “-)
    .-= MrCyberSmart´s last blog ..Chicago SEO Business Blogging News: Should You Use Digg? =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 2, 2010, 1:54 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Ileane. Glad it clarified for you.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 12, 2011, 12:45 pm

    Some time ago — after we finished building our dream home — the “mortgage free home blog” was expanded to become a lifestyle design blog. Because of that change the categories have changed markedly from what they were when this post was written. The former categories actually became tags and all the home building posts were included in two new categories: for home and goal projects: design your own home.

  • Nancy Khan September 2, 2011, 8:21 am

    I have learned setting category and tags in word press theme . It is really helpful for me.

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