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WordPress tags vs categories – how to rank using tags

One things that has always confused most people is WordPress tags vs categories. Up until recently I have never paid much attention to tags. You also most likely underestimated their value when it comes to ranking. Hopefully after this you will also see how easy it is to rank your content by using tags.

What are Tags used for?

Tags have existed in WordPress for a very long time. Tags themselves can be very functional. It all depends on how you use them. At its core, tags are useful for people using your site AND for search engines reading your site.

Tags help with both Navigation and to Group Posts of Similar Content.

It is important to note that tags can only be implemented in posts, not in pages.

WordPress Tags vs Categories

If you go into the back end of a WordPress website, you will see Posts then Categories and Tags.

wordpress  tags vs categories


Categories are like the table of contents of a book. This is where your content is organised, for instance in a hierarchical structure. For example, if you open a cookbook, there could be a section for salads.

If you were interested in salads, you could go directly to that page (or click the link in the case of an eBook).


What if you were looking for something specific? For instance, mushrooms. In that case you would go to the end of the book and look at the index. An index is basically an alphabetical listing of key contents of the book.

That way you can get the exact content you are looking for. Recipes containing mushrooms could be in a soup, or a salad or another meal type.

In this way tags function like an index.

When should you use Tags?

After you have some content (i.e., 25 or more blog posts) it is a good time to start adding tags. Creating tags right after you have created a fresh website does not make sense. The 25 mentioned is not set-in stone. It should be used as a guideline and you can start using them when you want.

Although not necessary, tags should ideally link to more than one post. These could be keywords that you are trying to rank for that exist in different posts.

Building a Menu of Tags

Once you have a bunch of tags associated to posts, you should consider building a menu structure for them.

There are 3 pillars or steps to creating a menu of tags.

1. You have to Create the Tags

If you have built your tags up till this point, you may have to format them a bit.

When you select tags from your WordPress back end, you will get a list:

wordpress tags

One thing you can notice from the screen grab is that the tags are short, formatted and to the point.

You will also notice that the tags are in Camel Case (each new word is Capitalized).

Having tags in lower case makes them look like hashtags.

Remember: These are NOT HashTags

When you add a tag, it is basically just entering the name. You can add a description too if you want. Some themes show the description, but it is not necessary.

Two different ways to Add your Tags

One way you can add your tags is by just thinking of what your posts are about and then create the tags.

Another way to do it is to go to Posts | All Posts.

Then do a search, i.e., “Work from Home”.  This will bring up all your posts that have “Work from Home” in them.

Now go to “Quick Edit” at the bottom of one of your posts and add “Work from Home” as a tag.

adding tags to posts

This will result in 2 things being done:

  • The tag will be created
  • The post will be associated with that tag

As you can see below, the tag is now associated with the post:

wordpress tag

Now when you look at your post on your site, the tag will be there. This will mean that other posts that interested the person for that tag can also be read. That is one way that your site will start ranking better. Ranking is essential for anyone that wants to start an online business. By time spent on your site, pages per session on your site and of course, bounce rate going down.

2. Build the actual Menu of Tags

The next step after creating your tags, is to build a menu.

You get to the Menu Area by going to Appearance | Menus.

add tags to menu items

When you first enter the menu are, you will not see the Tags menu item – as highlighted in the screen grab above.

You will need to activate it first, by selecting the screen options (right arrow above is pointing to it). That will drop down your screen options menu and you can activate the Tags (the other arrow above is pointing to it).

This will automagically add the Tags Menu Item.

Create a New Menu

First step is to create a new menu by selecting create a new menu in Appearance | Menu.

create a new menu

Next you should deselect all the Menu Settings check boxes. For the menu names, you can choose something like “Footer Widget Menu 1” (and 2, 3, 4, 5 for the rest). The number of widgets you have available depends on your theme.

The Generate Press theme for instance has 5 footer widgets for use.

Choosing Tags

You will notice that there are 3 options for choosing your tags when creating a menu for them:

tag options

The Most Used is as the name suggests, the most used Tags.

View All displays all your tags in Alphabetical order.

Then there is also a Search function, where you can search for your tags.

When choosing the tags per menu, try to categorise or put things that are similar together. For instance, if you think of E-mail marketing as a group, you could add the following tags (if they exist): AWeber, Mail Chimp, Email Marketing, etc.

After selecting your tags, select Add to Menu.

Title attributes for tags

After they are added, copy the contents of the Navigation Label into the Title Attribute text box. Title Attributes work like Alt Attributes. Which in turn means more SEO juice 😊

Note: If you can’t see the Title Attribute text box, please check the FAQ section at the end of this post.

You can add a description if you want, it is neater but as far as I know doesn’t do anything. If you suspect or know I am wrong about that, please leave a comment below this post.

The last step is to save the menu.

3. The Widget Position of the Menu

Depending on your theme (this one is Generate Press), you will have widgets to choose from. You get there by going to Widgets (on your left menu).

First step is to add a Navigation menu to the chosen widget (i.e., Footer Widget 1). You do this by selecting Navigation menu from the left and dragging and dropping it into the widget.

add a widget to a menu

You can now use the Select (highlighted in blue above) one of the menus created in the previous step. Now you see why the first menu you created was called Footer Widget Menu 1.

 Click save and done and go check out your new widget menu on the front end (your site in your browser).

If you don’t see the menu widget it may be that your theme does not activate the widget by default. Go to Customize (top of your browser) then choose Layout | Footer.

You will most likely see the value for Footer widgets to be 0 (as shown below).

footer widgets

Select the amount you want to display (for instance 3).

Now when you go back to the front-end and refresh your browser, you should see the widget menu item you created (bottom of the page if it is a footer widget):

menu widget using tags

Now when someone clicks one of the links, they will see all posts related the option they have chosen (and you have tagged).

Although this is very good already, you will notice that it only shows the tags and not in a menu format.

If you want to add a Header (i.e. Email) then go back to your Navigation menu, enter the text and click save.

The last step is to go to the Google Search Console. Copy the URL from your site when one of the tag options are selected. Run a URL inspection in the Console. If the URL is not indexed (highly unlikely if you just created it) then select the REQUEST INDEXING button.

Rinse and repeat and you are another step up the ranking ladder!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are WordPress Tags?

WordPress tags are words or phrases that help users find your content.
This is important for bloggers because it helps them attract more readers to their site and improve their SEO ranking on Google, which can lead to more traffic and revenue.

What are WordPress Categories?

Categories are an important part of a blog, and we all have our own way of organizing their content. You may have your categories broken down by type or topic, while others might group them more by frequency of posting. Whatever it is that works for you, WordPress has the tools to help with your organization needs!

Categories are labels assigned to posts in order to sort and organize them into groups on the website. Categories can be created manually on individual posts or automatically when publishing new articles based on tags you assign beforehand.

They’re also used for search engine optimization purposes because they tell Google what words to associate with your site’s pages so that they show up higher in search results than those without any keywords assigned at all.

Want to Learn Even More?

For more helpful articles like this, check out my other articles. Alternatively you can go Wealthy Affiliate. It is the source where I’ve learnt the above and the most about Affiliate Marketing.

Being able to join for FREE to check things out for yourself is a big tick.

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