Building Custom Taxonomies in WordPress.com

Most users don’t realize it, but whenever you visit a website, you’re likely using taxonomies — systems that organize the content on the site — to navigate it. Two key kinds of taxonomies are categories and tags. They can help users navigate your site to quickly find the content they’re looking for.

Creating custom taxonomies in WordPress.com is an easy way to apply a hierarchical structure to your content, improving site navigation, and enabling content discovery. Here’s a look at how to take advantage of these taxonomies to improve your website’s organization and user experience.

Naming taxonomies and using hierarchies

When using taxonomies on your site, you’ll want all categories, subcategories, and tags to have a specific reference point. Instead of using terms like “blog post” or “expert tips,” focus on specific names and areas of interest that accurately reflect the contents of that blog post. This helps readers scan content to find posts that are relevant to their interests in that given moment.

If you run a website about outdoor sports and outdoor gear, you might want to use broad categories that relate to certain areas of interest: Hiking, Camping, Fishing, etc. Subtopics may also be useful, such as “Product Reviews,” “Shopping Guides,” “Expert Advice,” and so on. The subtopics are organized under the main categories to facilitate easy navigation of your site. For example, each category can have its own place on your site’s main navigation menu, with the subtopics accessed through drop-down items.

Connecting posts to taxonomies

In general, most blog posts should have at least one category and, if applicable, a sub-category. In rare cases, multiple categories may be used: a post about tents for hiking, for example, might be categorized in both the Camping and Hiking sections to ensure that all interested consumers can find it.

Tags are different. Most blog posts are relevant to at least a few different types of tags. To use the hiking tent example again, appropriate tags could include “camping gear” and “hiking gear,” brand names like “REI” and “Field & Stream,” and more specific terms like “backpacking” and “backcountry.”

Keep in mind that the primary value of tags is to help users navigate your content. If they click on “backcountry,” they want to see content that directly relates to this area of interest. Social Media Today recommends that publishers take the “less is more” approach to tagging. Overuse can dilute the relevance of these indicators, which reduces their value and hurts your user experience.

Manual creation and custom taxonomies

To create custom taxonomies that align with your website’s mission and your audience’s interests, you’ll need to manually create categories and sub-categories in WordPress.com. Fortunately, building custom taxonomies in WordPress.com can be easily done through the Site Settings of your website. This allows you to easily use custom terms that make navigation easy for your users, providing a simple structure for the content being published to your site.

Adding categories in WordPress.com

You can test the effectiveness of these categories by clicking them on your website and making sure the content falls under the right umbrella terms. If you have existing content, you may need to go back and re-categorize this content to properly place it among the rest of your content.

Taxonomies may sound complicated, but in reality, they’re one of the simplest aspects of how your site is organized. When you use them the right way, it will make the user experience more satisfying for your incoming traffic.

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Jonathan Rhoades

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