Categories & Tags

Categories and tags are metadata (information) about your site content that tells WordPress, plugins, search engines, and website visitors what each article is about.

Category & Tag Basics

 Categories vs Tags

Categories stay stable over time and for the most part have a direct relation to your site’s organizational structure and navigation. It is good to keep your categories list meaningful and well curated. In general, you should only add a new public category if:

  • You have or will have a meaningful amount of content on that subject (more than 20 articles)
  • You are trying to target that term in search
  • The website visitor will have a stable way to find that content (ie it has a home on your website)

Tags are more free-form and can be made up on the spot. They add extra context and keywords for use in other aspects of the website but the list of all the tags in the system can get long and contain many topics, sub topics, and terms that fall in and out of use.

An example of the editorial use of categories vs tags might be an article categorized with ‘Restaurants’ and tagged with ‘Chef Newsome, New Restaurants, South Metro.’

Lists & Trafficking Content

Categories are used to determine what kind of content shows up in content lists. When a content creator creates an article they are given the option to categorize their article. These categories are then used by lists to determine what content shows up on landing pages.

Search Engines

Search engines will find and catalog both categories and tags. Categories will generally be more powerful because they often relate to other elements on the site like navigation names, landing page urls and module titles and often have a large amount of content on that topic. This idea that the same term is used consistently across the site to describe the same kind of content is called “SEO Harmony.” The more harmonious your site is, the more powerful the term is.  That said, if because of a news event or viral topic, a term becomes popular for a short amount of time, tags allow you to quickly aggregate, x-link and find that content, without changing the structure of your site.

Site Search

The site search behaves in many ways, like the search engines, using the categories and tags to help a website visitor find content. If a visitor types in a term that matches either a category or tag, articles using those terms will appear high in their results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any special considerations when choosing a category name?

  • Your category name should be short (no more than two words) and, if public, should be keyword rich.
  • The category name is the word that site editors will select when creating or editing an article to assign it to a specific category. Be sure that your categories are named in a way that will make sense to your whole team.
  • For categories set to public, the category name can be set to show up in content lists. Site visitors can click on the category name to go to the archive page of all content in that category.

How is the category slug used?

The slug is what will create the URL that your website visitors will use to view an archive of all content on that topic. All categories can be viewed on your domain via that URL  ‘yourdomin.com/category/slug-name’

This page is also important for SEO. Search engines generally consider category pages to be important because they are directly tied to search terms. For example, if someone searches ‘Entertainment News’ Google may be more likely to send them to a category page with a title and URL that matches.

Why was a number added to the end of my category slug?

You can not create duplicate slugs. If you put the slug is the same as an existing slug in the system WordPress will append the slug with a number such as ‘entertainement-news-2’

Why isn’t this category name showing up on a list on my site?

Whether or not category names show on a content list is a setting on the list template. What categories to include in a list is a setting on the list itself. Review the content publishing overview to understand how articles, categories, and lists relate to one another.

Some of the categories have a little icon next to them – what does that mean?

That means the category is hidden from website visitors, but otherwise behaves as a normal category.

How do I know what categories to select?

If you are unsure of what categories to select to get content to appear in a specific list. Go the list in question (either via the page itself or the list editor)  and review what categories are