Organize Your Blog: Categories vs Tags

Categories and Tags. Both can get extremely overwhelming in your blogging platform.

For everyone's sake (yours and your readers'), it's best to pare down and organize your categories and tags (or Labels in Blogger).

The difference between Categories and Tags

If you're using WordPress, there's a major difference between Categories and Tags. Most basically, Categories are reserved for your Table of Contents. They're the big picture words, to put all of your posts into large groupings of related articles.

Tags, on the other hand, are keywords or index words.

Let's relate your blog to pieces of paper. Each piece of paper is one blog post. For sanity's and organization's sake, you need be able to put them into a few major stacks (your Categories).

Then, you can start to label each post by adding little flags to each piece of paper, which will help you be able to identify them further.

If we look at my blog, the three major topics I cover are on Lifestyle, Blogging, and Design. Those are some of my Categories.

From there, I have more specific keywords that I use for each post (Tags). Here's an example of how my content is organized, with the circled items being my Categories and the purple words being my tags. You'll notice that some Tags can fall into multiple Categories.

Blogging: Categories vs Tags on
Blogging: Categories vs Tags on

More specifically, this post, which is about how to organize your blog posts, is in the Blogging category, and is tagged with "improving your blog" "WordPress" and "blogger".

Linking to Categories and Tags

If each blog post is categorized and tagged in a smart and consistent way, it'll be easy for you to link to that content or pull it in with a specific list.

While your permalink settings may be slightly different, you can easily pull in a specific Category or Tag by using URL's like the ones below:

<a href="">Posts about Blogging</a> 
<a href="">Posts about WordPress</a>

Slugs and Names

Each Category and Tag you create has a slug. A slug is a unique identifier that will allow WordPress to find your content. Slugs are always lowercase and spaces are replaced with hyphens.

My "improving your blog" slug looks like this: improving-your-blog.

It's important when you create Categories and Tags that the name looks pretty and is consistent. This will be especially important if you display categories or tags on posts or in your navigation bar, tag cloud, etc.

Avoid duplicate Categories and Tags

A word to the wise: Do not use the same words for Categories and Tags. If you have a post that's categorized as Fashion, don't then also tag it as Fashion. Redundancy is inefficient in this case and won't help anything.

Not to mention if you use duplicate Categories and Tags, the slugs will look weird. Your first Fashion item would be "fashion", but then the second one would look like this: "fashion-1".

Time to Clean Up

Reorganizing your posts can be a difficult and mind numbing task, but the benefits are great moving forward. Spending a few hours organizing now will allow you to save time in the future when you create, categorize, and tag new posts.

Start with a mind map (like the one I show above) and get everything out on paper. From there, redraw the mind map as necessary and find redundancies or consolidate where possible.

Unless your blog is insanely large, I recommend no more than maybe 10 categories.

Even Women's Health magazine only has 8 categories: Fitness, Sex & Love, Life, Food, Weight Loss, Health, Beauty, and Style.

Remember to clean up your Names and your Slugs, too, and then fix any manual Category or Tag links that may have broken as a result.

How do you keep your Categories and Tags organized? Does your blog need a tune up?