The Difference Between WordPress Categories and Tags

I see a lot of people not using WordPress tags correctly, especially if that person migrated from Blogger. It’s perfectly understandable, especially because Blogger doesn’t have categories and tags; it just has “labels”.

So how do you go from using just one (“labels”) to using both categories and tags? I’m here to tell you the difference!

Categories are broad topics

You should not have a ton of categories on your blog, because categories are meant to be broad topics or sections in your blog. So let’s think about this.. what kind of topics or “sections” do most book blogs have?

  • Book reviews
  • Discussions
  • Giveaways
  • Blog tips
  • Challenges
  • Book events & signings
  • Interviews
  • Memes

Obviously some blogs may have more or less, but this is just to give you a general idea. These are all different topics on book blogs, and thus they are also categories. All of your book reviews go in a category called “Book Reviews” (or similar), all of your interviews go in a category called “Interviews”, etc. You can put one post in more than one category if you need to (like “Book Reviews” and “Giveaways” if you’re doing a review and giveaway in one post).

You can also have sub-categories if you need to. So you might organize your memes category like this:

  • Memes
    • Stacking the Shelves
    • Top Ten Tuesday
    • Waiting on Wednesday

Or you could just have a separate category for each meme. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and organization.

Tags are more specific details within a category

Tags are details or keywords inside a post that might span across multiple categories. That’s why it’s perfectly normal to have hundreds (or even thousands!) of tags across your whole blog.

Let’s take a book review as an example: Black City by Elizabeth Richards. We know that the broad topic is that it’s a book review, which is why it’s in the “Book Review” category. But what is the book review actually about? That’s what we want to use for tags! So I’ve included, the book title, book author, publisher, star rating, genre, and a few keywords that describe themes or topics in the book.

Tag List for Black City

  • Black City
  • Elizabeth Richards
  • Black City Series
  • Penguin
  • 5 Stars
  • Dystopian
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Post Apocalyptic
  • Science Fiction
  • Vampires
  • Young Adult
  • Forbidden Love
  • Giggle Book
  • Favourite

That list includes: the book title, the book author, the series name, the publisher, my star rating, a list of genres, themes/topics in the book, and some of my own personal tags (“Giggle Book” and “Favourite”).

Those are all words that describe the book itself


Categories are…

the main topic of the post, in broadest terms.

Tags are…

the small details that describe the content of the post or book.

Did you make a mistake with your categories/tags?

There is a wonderful WordPress plugin that allows you to convert tags to categories, and vice versa! If you need to convert them back and forth because you’ve been using them incorrectly, install the Categories to Tags Converter plugin!

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  1. What do categories and tags do for people indexing your blog or searching online for something? I always feel like categories are kind of useless because I would never use them on someone else’s blog. I don’t know if other people are in the habit of doing that, maybe that’s just my utter hopelessness with WordPress showing haha.

    Janita @ Book, Interrupted recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (16)
    1. Categories and tags are mainly for organization purposes. Here’s an example (and one that actually occurs often on my blog):

      Someone reads one of my Bitchin’ Book Blog posts (blog tips). They really like it, so they want to read more. Well, they can just click on the link to the Bitchin’ Book Blog category to see every single post in that category.

      Or, let’s say you make a post about an author and tag that post with the author’s name. Maybe the author sees it and wants to see every other post on your blog about that author. They can click on the link to the tag with the author’s name to see every single post you’ve ever tagged that author in.

      It’s a way of linking all your posts together and allowing people to browse through those connections!

  2. Ugh, I’ve seen this on other blogs and it bugs the crap out of me when their categories are practically their tags. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not perfect, and I’ve been doing a lot of modifications to my tags/categories so that everything isn’t always duplicated, but some bloggers *cue mini freakout* Just sayin’… Great post!

    Krys recently posted: What Should I Read Next? (July)
    1. Yeah when people have a million tag-like categories it makes me cringe a little. 🙁 That’s why I hope this post will shed some light on how to use them properly!

  3. Great, simple explanation. I agree that categories and tags are for categorization. It’s also a great way to link internally to increase pageviews. I have tags of “for kids”, “for home” etc so I can add a blurb at the bottom of a post “Check out even more [deals for kids] posted lately!” for example, linking [deals for kids] to the tag.

  4. Nice post Ashley. I have two doubt’s, can i use keywords as tags and how does the both play in SEO. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep blogging…

    1. Yes you can use keywords as tags. Doing so will help your SEO a little because it’s additional keyword usage and internal linking, but it won’t do a ton. SEO depends more on using those keywords throughout your posts (in addition to in tags) and using them in headings ( <h1>tags</h1> ) in particular.

  5. Hi,

    Your tips are awesome and which is making it much easy for me to move from a blog to website….thanks a lot for helping me.
    I do have question about this post – I did look for this plugin “Categories to Tags Converter plugin” but it says that it’s not updated in 2 yrs and it’s not much compatible with my theme.
    Could you please help me with any other plugin, if you know of any? that will be very helpful.


    1. This plugin is made by the plugin who made WordPress. It’s perfectly fine. Not all plugins need to be updated regularly.

  6. I just want to say that I LOVE your website. It has literally helped me on so many occasions. Oddly, I didn’t subscribe for the longest time, but kept finding my way back here and stumbling on valuable tidbits. And you explain it in bite sized chunks, which is helpful! I think a decent chunk of what I know now as a book blogger (in terms of organizing), I learned from here. So thanks!

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