Organization and easy navigation are one of the many core pieces for an impactful user experience. When utilizing open-source CMS websites such as WordPress, structuring your content can take many forms, but two in particular, tags and categories, offer that uniformity for your content. Tags and categories enable orderly classification, but their function and purpose differ quite significantly. Understanding the best practices for tag and category implementation can make a key difference for your web and mobile interface.

Understanding Categories

Within the taxonomies of structure, categories allow for broad groupings of topics. Particularly, when utilizing WordPress for blogs or content-related pages, organization matters. Categories grant you the accessibility to group topics into different sections. It also permits your users to quickly gain a scope of what topics your website attains for quick navigation, which is essential for a robust user experience. 

Another useful feature with categories is the ability to arrange them hierarchically with subcategories, also known as parent and child categories on WordPress. Child categories are essential because they reduce clutter, and optimize your interface cleanly and easily. While arranging topics in a group or individually is ultimately up to the administrator of a WordPress page, child categories are linked to the parent category and further allow your users to find the content they are most interested in. However, neglecting to categorize you content or blog post will automatically be branded “uncategorized” so it is best to always curate a title. 

Category hierarchies can further optimize organization

Understanding Tags 

Tags, a much more specific way to categorize your content topics, cater to a smaller, detailed scope. Unlike categories, tags exist on their own and do not have set relationships with other tags, rather they allow your content to be found throughout your website with specific keywords. That being said, unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical because they stand alone.

WordPress does not insist on incorporating tags as a mandatory feature, however, it can improve your SEO and further encourage easy navigation throughout your website. Tags arrange your posts and in turn, improve your website’s usability, which, once again, is great for a smooth user experience. When selecting tags, you want to ensure the ones you decide to implement best describe your post with the most accurate and representational keywords possible. 

Align your post tags with refined keywords that best describe your content

Best Practices for Tag and Category Implementation 

As structurally sound as categories and tags are, too much of a good thing can sometimes be, well, too much. Ensuring that you are practically utilizing tags and categories for your WordPress page is important to remember. Furthermore, staying on top of this also encourages a clean and responsive server-side, or backend, of your website. 

Keep It Clean

A fundamental step to guarantee the best practices are applied with categories is the awareness that you are not assigning a single post to too many categories. A content post truly requires only one to two category classifications. This keeps your website navigation clean and organized thus allowing users to navigate your page with ease.

You also want to ensure that the categories you structure around your website will attain 10 to 20 posts within a category at minimum. This reduces scarce pages and improves usability. It is counter-productive to have an established category for a single post, therefore you want to bulk up each category with posts that embody your website.

Although there is no limit when incorporating tags to a post, it is a good idea to not bombard your content with too many. Rather, you want to include tags that will reflect your content, and align with your category.  

Keep It Consistent

Consistency is key with tags and category curation. Clogging your website with tags that are the same or too similar to others, i.e., plural vs singular versions of the same tag, can create disorder. Say for example, your post pertains to the topic of e-commerce and you decide to include the tag conversion. It is best to stick to one rendition of that tag, since it is not necessary to include conversion and conversions. Rather, you want to optimize each tag with the best possible keyword choice, and decide on, say, conversion rate instead. The specificity of each, reduces sporadic placement of posts from tags that may not be used as often as the other iterations of itself. 

Moreover, duplication of tags can also affect your SEO negatively. If your webpage possesses two of the same tag iterations, the SEO may not know which tag content to rank first or prioritize, so it is always useful to stick to one detailed rendition. 

When creating new tags, avoid tags that are too similar to previous ones

A consistent streamline of tags can also be achieved by selecting ones on your website that are already on your established list, instead of creating new ones. Reducing their number avoids the risk of broken, duplicated, and abandoned tags, as well as promotes consistency for tag audits. Tag audits evaluate what tags your website contains, and if they are functioning as expected. Thus, to stimulate functionality in regards to your website’s backend, carefully choosing your tags is an important step in the process. Moreover, when naming and creating new tag choices, WordPress allows you to include a description for every tag to define what it is used for when including it onto your post. This added layer of organization is optional, but helpful. 

Consider Plug-Ins

WordPress basic taxonomy structure is immensely useful as is, however, if you wish to fully elevate your content organization and get more out of tags and categories, plug-ins are resourceful additions. The array of plug-in availability is plentiful and range from free to premium options. 

Grouping and modifying tags and categories can be achieved and fine-tuned with plug-ins such as TaxoPress, Tag Groups, and Category Order and Taxonomy Term Order, just to name a few. These allow for simple modification and organization when updating or changing categories and tags. They also allow for simpler backend organization such as layouts that enable drag-and-drop reorganization of categories.

To firmly establish fluidity with any project or interface, structure should ultimately be a core part in that foundation. Tags and categories can help you achieve just that, and provide your users with the finest experience.