By now, you know what a well-organized site looks like. However, we haven’t yet discussed the two major factors in organizing your website: categories and tags.
WordPress uses the so-called taxonomy to group content. Now the word “classification” is basically a fancy word for a group of things (like website pages, in this case) that have something in common.
This is convenient, as people looking for more information on the same topic will be able to find similar articles more easily. And you can group the content in different ways.
The default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags. You may have heard of them, but are you using them properly?
Let’s take a look at the What are Categories.
Some things have some similarities as they can all be filed under the same category. For example, Canada, the US, and the Caribbean are all part of North America.
Thus, they can be placed in the category “North America”. “North America” is the broader term, the rest of which is part of North America.
So there is always a certain hierarchy to the categories: North America is at the top, as the main word, and the rest is just one of the parts that together make up North America.
You should divide the blog posts on your site into several categories. If they get too big, add hair categories to clear things up again.
For example, if you have a large blog category like “North America”, the US could be a child category, under which you put all the different travel posts about the US.
Again, there is still a certain hierarchy here. North America is still at the top, but the US is now in the middle of the food chain rather than at the bottom.
That space is now reserved for specific articles about the US that fall under that category. Linking this hierarchy and classifying your pages helps your users and Google understand every page you type.
When implementing your category structure, be sure to add your main categories to your site’s main menu.
Page vs Post
On a side note, if you’re working with pages and not posts, it works a little differently. Posts work with categories and tags whereas Pages do not. However, it is still possible to add hierarchies to pages.
To do this, you specify a “parent” page on a page in the sidebar. By the way, some plugins allow you to add categories and tags to pages if you prefer.
How to Create Categories and Tags
How should you go about this? You mustn’t create too many categories, or people will not be able to see the wood for the trees. It’s hard to decide how many categories you should have.
A blog may have different categories than an online shop containing all kinds of different products. So consider what matters to your situation and don’t let the numbers get out of hand.
Also, it’s generally a good idea to try to make sure that your categories are roughly the same size.
If one category becomes too large because you have too many pages about a certain topic, you should split that category into two categories.
You can replace the big category with two new ones on the same level this way. Or you can keep the big category and add two new child categories.
A good rule of thumb for the size of categories is to ensure that no category is more than twice the size of any other category.
It’s all about keeping things clear for your visitors and search engines. Once you’re satisfied with your structure, take a look at the names you’ve created for your categories.
If you have enough content about a certain topic for your category’s need, you can bet people are searching for it too.
That’s why it’s very wise to make sure that your category names match the search terms that people use to search for something in Google. Adding tags will also benefit the structure of your site.
But what is the difference between category and tag, you may wonder.
Well, the difference has to do with the structure and the way you structure things. As mentioned earlier, categories are hierarchical: you can have child categories, and even child categories can be child categories.
However, tags do not have that hierarchy. The tag simply says “hey: this article has a certain property that might be interesting to a reader”.
Readers can then use the tag to find articles that mention the thing they are looking for. Let’s go back to our travel blog to clarify this.
In addition to the categories on the site, we’ve added tags like ‘city trip’, ‘cuisine’, ‘budget’, and ‘active’ to some articles.
This makes – for example – budget vacations easier to find for people who are specifically looking for cheap vacations, as those holidays can be found in many different categories, and the tags they use ties them together.
You should limit the number of tags you use. If you add a new tag to each post or article, you are not structuring anything.
Always make sure that tags are used more than once or twice on your site. If the tags are only used once, the tags page will be the same as the blog post where you added the tag.
This can create duplicate or thin content, and it is bad for your ranking. Also, make sure your tags group articles that actually have something in common.
Also, always make sure your tags are visible to your visitors somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article.
Tags are really useful for your visitors, as they enable them to read more about the same topic.
The last thing you need to know when creating categories and tags is that each time you create one, you will also be creating an archive page on your website.
On this archive page, all posts and pages in a category or tag will be listed. It’s important to view and customize these archive pages if your theme allows you, as this can really improve the way your users experience your site.
The category and tag pages have other archive pages, such as the author archive and the data archive.
That’s it for categories and tags! Now, you should have a clear idea of how you should organize your site to ensure that your visitors reach the pages you want them to reach.