At first glance, there is not a lot of differences between WordPress tags and categories, but once you become familiar with them you will learn that EACH HAVE THEIR TIME AND PLACE. In this article, I am going to clear up any questions or confusion you may have about Categories vs Tags in WordPress.
Which is the Best Option for Sorting Content on Your Site?
While this may seem like a tough decision, let me make it easy for you. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS RELY ON CATEGORIES AS YOUR MAIN SORTING AND ORGANIZATIONAL METHOD because tags were never designed to be the central organizational pillar of a WordPress site.
I do like tag clouds on some websites, but I strongly prefer a well thought out category hierarchy to the haphazard nature of navigating through a wall of tags. I'm not alone in this line of thinking, so lets explore the purpose and intended use cases for tags and categories.
What Was the Original Purpose of Each Type of Taxonomy.
Categories were included in WordPress so that you can make descriptive categories that define the topic of your page or post. For example, a website dedicated to sports might have categories for football, baseball, basketball and hockey. CATEGORIES ARE MEANT FOR LARGE GROUPS OF POSTS.
TAGS WERE CREATED SO THAT YOU COULD ADD AS MANY KEYWORDS AS NEEDED TO PROPERLY DESCRIBE YOUR POST. In addition, they are also a way to insure that your post includes all the relevant search terms for the post, even if the article doesn't explicitly mention those terms in the text. Finally, they serve as one of the best ways to link related content together so that related pages and posts have a direct association through any shared tags.
How Do You Add These Items To Your Post & Site in WordPress?
YOU CAN ADD CATEGORIES AND TAGS TO YOUR WORDPRESS PAGES AND POSTS DIRECTLY FROM THE EDITOR. If you're using Gutenberg or the classic editor, you will find the Categories & Tags on the right sidebar of the editor.
Regarding displaying tags and categories on your website, that is dependent on your theme. Depending on your theme, it is generally easy to add category and tag widgets to your sidebar. Just go to wp-admin > Appearance > Widgets and then drag the Categories widget and the Tag Cloud widget into your sidebar.
How many tags should you have on each post?
Tags are for any subject covered in the post that doesn't already have representation. YOU SHOULD INCLUDE ANY TAG YOU CAN THINK OF THAT IS RELEVANT TO THE ARTICLE. Going back to our sports blog example, let say you wrote an article on the 1956 Boston Red Sox roster. You may want to add tags such as their star players Ted Williams, Jackie Jenson, and Mickey Vernon, as well as terms such as Roster, the year 1956 and any other phrase you believe may be recurring on your site.
Should You Include Categories in Your Page URLs? Which one, Categories or Tags, for SEO?
If you're reading this article, then I imagine you're trying to build a successful website but don't already have one. From my experience, the real thing that matters in modern SEO is that you have quality, engaging content that readers love.
With that disclaimer out of the way, CATEGORIES IN YOUR URL DO MAKE SENSE IF YOU'RE USING CONCISE AND TARGETED CATEGORY NAMES. However, if your categories are broad and not focused enough, they can actually waste characters in your URL and dilute the strength of your targeted keywords inside your URL. So my answer is that you should enable categories in your URLs if you have drilled down your categories to the point where they would help reinforce the keywords you're targeting, but avoid using them in your URL otherwise.
With regards to tags, they are a useful semantic way to describe content and to interlink related articles. I recommend that every site use them for concise and relevant keywords that relate to the article at hand.
In terms of SEO, I am convinced that the Categories vs Tags WordPress debate is a draw. They are both tools that when used properly help your visitors and search engines find and classify content on your site more effectively. To that end, every site owner should take the time to create a well thought out category and tag collection that aids their audience in finding what they're looking for.
How to Use Categories & Tags in WordPress - The Masterclass