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The difference between blog categories and tags

BloggingToday I answered a question for a client that might be helpful to others, so I thought I’d share it here.

When you set up a blog, you need to develop categories for your posts. These may include “employee communications,” “marketing,” “social media” and so on. You might create 10 or 20 categories or more. Each of your posts will sit in a category bucket or two. For example, a post on intranets might be in the categories for “intranet” and “employee communications.”

So what’s a tag? As I explained to my client, you can think of categories as the table of contents in a book, and tags as the index at the back of the book. Tags serve to describe your post in more detail.

To expand on the example above, our blog post on intranets, which is placed in the categories for “employee communications” and “intranet” might also be tagged with the name of the company used in the example, say “Acme.” Perhaps you’d add a tag for “SharePoint” if the post referred to it.

If you’re writing about an event that features a hashtag, you would add the whole hashtag as a tag, such as #IABC13 for the IABC world conference in 2013.

Must you use categories and tags? Blog posts should have categories to keep your blog organized, to help users find information, and to improve SEO. Tags are optional but suggested. If you are using WordPress, categories and tags are the default taxonomies. Other blogging platforms I’ve used (such as TypePad) also allow for both categories and tags.

What’s your experience with categories and tags?

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About Donna Papacosta

Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, workshop leader and part-time university instructor. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects. In other words: Share your story, build your business.

4 Responses to "The difference between blog categories and tags"

  • Andrew Findlater
    February 13, 2013 - 8:20 AM Reply

    I’m glad I came across your post because I’ve always been confused by the two. I appreciate your straight forward explanation. I’ve just finished giving my site (www.selectpr.com) a refresh and I’ll be sure to include categories and tags moving forward. Thanks.

  • Donna Papacosta
    February 13, 2013 - 8:59 AM Reply

    Thanks for letting me know you found this helpful, Andrew. It seems to be a very common question, and one I puzzled over when I started blogging. I like the refresh of your blog, btw.

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