Category vs Tag for improving SEO on your website

As I’m revamping my website I’m also looking at ways to increase user interaction and search engine optimization.

Ideas and web strategies have come and gone and then came back again. As I move closer to my second decade online I realize that while some things stay the same other tings change and you must adapt to stay in the game.

One topic for discussion I see here and there in my research is the argument of “Category vs Tag”. I will explain the two in just a second but first I want to clarify that this is related to Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

Many sites these days are designed on the WordPress platform and as you create posts for your website you will be given the option to categorize your posts. This allows you to catalog all of like posts together. At one point (myself included) bloggers would use multiple categories to let the readers know what the post was about.

I’ve seen that practice change over the past couple of years and I see where people will use a category as the broad idea of what the post is and then use tags to add a quick summary.

For example if I was writing a post on formatting a salesletter I might have the category be under copywriting and then add tags such as salesletter, headlines, format, design.

One mistake I see site owners make in this area is that by adding to many categories to our site it makes it hard for the search engines to determine what our site is really about. As I go through and revamp my site I to am looking at what the focus of my site is and narrow down my categories and also look at my tags to see if they accentuate that focus.

In doing this I feel that it will help raise my SEO rankings in the areas that I am focused on being in and increase quality traffic to my site.

I’m curious if you agree with this line of thinking or are you doing something else when it comes to categories and tags? I’d love to get your feedback in the comment section below. – Thanks!

4 Comments

  1. Rex on February 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    We are generally having better luck with just a few categories… then optimizing for tags. Tags need support – but if used well can be magic.

    I agree – too many categories seems to confuse the SERPs.

    Good post Frank!

    • Frank Deardurff III on February 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks Rex on the feedback I appreciate your expertise in this area. I was shocked to see how many categories I’ve actually accumulated over the length of this site. Probably a good practice for older sites to re-evaluate the focus.

  2. Lynn Pierce on February 3, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I usually only use 1 or 2 category for a post. I do have a question for you though Frank, how many tags do you think is the max number to use? I’ve read that you shouldn’t have too many or it confuses Google.

    • Frank Deardurff III on February 4, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Hey Lynn! – Thanks for commenting, I think you are right on with the categories per post and I think it’s a good idea to keep the number of overall categories down to a minimum so that the search engines can easily determine what your blog is about.

      As for tags I’ve seen mixed thoughts on the number but again I’ve been trying to keep them to no more than 5 or 6 per post and It is a good idea to keep them consistent with the message of the site.

      I’m trying to condense some of my categories and tags to make sure that I don’t have any that is used only once. I’m also testing with multi-word tags.

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