Categories and tags are very similar. They both allow you to organize content that can then be used in a variety of ways. However there are a few differences.
Categories are best used for broad groupings of topics. For example, if you’re creating a site that reviews media, you might use categories such as Books or Film or TV.
Tags are much more specific topics that you want to use to associate related content. For example if you were creating a site that reviews media, you might want to use tags such as science fiction or horror or action adventure.
You can combine the two! For our review site example, you might be reviewing a romantic comedy. You can assign the broader category Film to the post, then give it some more specific tags such as romantic comedy, or even use the name of the actors and director as tags. People who view that post could use the tags to then find relates posts around that topic.
For more information, see our support page for adding Categories and Tags.
Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that it may be a bit confusing upon first glance! Here are some common questions and answers that may help you out.
Do I have to use tags?
The use of tags is entirely optional (although each post must be attached to at least one category).
What tags should I use?
That depends on your site! Here is our best advice on deciding how to tag your posts.
Are categories and tags hierarchical?
Categories can be arranged in a hierarchy (see the categories widget to learn more). Tags, however, exist only on their own and have no set relationship to anything else or each other and cannot be arranged as a hierarchy.
Do capital letters affect the tag?
No. Capital letters do not change a tag. For example, Blogging is the same as blogging.
Is there a limit to the number of tags I can have?
Yes and no. You can add as many tags as you like to a post. However, the WordPress.com Reader will filter out posts using more than 15 tags and categories (combined) as an anti-spam measure.
Will adding tags increase my traffic?
Your posts will appear in the Topics listings of any tags or categories you use. Therefore, assigning tags and categories to your post increases the chance that other WordPress.com users will see your content.
However, you don’t want irrelevant content showing up on the topics listings or search, and neither do we. That’s why we limit the number of tags that can be used on a public tag listing. Five to 15 tags (or categories, or a combination of the two) is a good number to add to each of your posts. The more tags you use, the less likely it is that your post will be selected for inclusion in the topics listings.
My posts aren’t showing up in the Topics listing.
Check out the Topics documentation for more information.
How are the archive URLs different for tags and categories?
If you publish a post attached to a category “food,” the URL will look like this:
The same post using the tag “food” will look like this:
If you publish a post attached to a category “food” and with the tag “rice”, the URLs will look like this: