You just wrote a killer blog post. Maybe it’s your best post to date. When you go to select a category for the post, you don’t find one that works, so you just make a new category.
Before you know it, you have 15 categories. Ooops.
This blog post will explain the difference between tags and categories and how you can use them together to help readers find your content and boost your SEO. Sounds like a win-win, right?
Categories are broad subject areas. If you have a food blog, you might decide to break up your categories into beverages, appetizers, entrees and desserts. Categories are required and if you do not select a category, it will ended up under uncategorized.
From there you can use subcategories if you want to further break down your topics. (WordPress supports subcategories. Currently, Squarespace does not.)
Unless you have new blog content daily, selecting 3-5 main topic categories is recommended. This makes it easier to put a content calendar together because you have specific topics to blog about as you put your calendar together. If you have 20 different categories, making sure you cover them all on a regular basis would be overwhelming!
Tags are used to support categories. Tags provide more details or narrow down topic areas covered in a blog post. You do not have to use tags, but provide more information to your reader and search engines.
If you do use tags, aim to add 2-3 specific tags to each post. While there is no max number of tags you can use, you do not want to have a large number of tags because that will be overwhelming for you and your audience.
Using Categories and Tags Together
Now that we have gone over the difference between categories and tags, let’s talk about using them together.
Categories and tags work best when you use them together strategically. For example, if you wrote a blog post about chocolate desserts, you would categorize the post under dessert. Then, to make it easier to find, you can use the tag, chocolate. The category will indicate it is a dessert and the tag will give more information about the dessert.
Cleaning up your categories and tags
If you have 20 categories and 1,000 tags, don’t panic. But, before you just go and delete tags and categories, realize that each time you created one, it creates a new page on your site. (Like this.) So, if you just delete things, you will end up with the dreaded 404 error.
You can delete tags and categories, you just want to make sure you use a 301 redirect to send traffic to your blog feed. You can use a WordPress plugin like Redirection. If you are a Squarespace user, follow their tutorial to create 301 redirects.
If you do decide to remove tags or categories, just make sure to take care of 404 errors so your SEO isn’t hurt.
If you are ready to clean up your categories and tags, I put a FREE worksheet to help guide you break your topic areas down.