This is one subject that comes up a lot regarding blog posts: the difference between a category and a tag.
It can not only be challenging to figure out which to use, but also which word(s) to use in the chosen area.
After writing a blog post, but before posting it, you want to label the post for search engines. The title and content may have good keywords for an engine search, but there is extra ‘power’ in also using the category and tag functions.
A category is a broad label for your post. A category for this post is “blog posts.”
A tag is more specific and used to describe the post in detail. A tag for this post is “blog post definitions.”
You can have many categories for a post, but it’s best not to get carried away. Overpopulating the category field can cause search engine robots to ignore the post all together.
You can be a little more generous with tags, but try to limit yourself to 10 or less so that you don’t miss out on getting picked up by search engines.
Categories can be compared to school subjects such as: science, math, music, history.
The tags are then specific fields of study or classes, such as: biology, algebra, Beethoven, World War II.
I already hear some of you saying “biology” could be a category, as could “algebra”, “Beethoven,” and “World War II.” Yes, you’re right – it’s a matter of perspective for your particular post.
How about comparing categories to the broad “fiction” and “non-fiction” labels? Then tags would be a specific genre. Or if that’s too broad, your category could be a particular genre and the tags are detailed related words relevant to that genre post.
This blog is about writing, so every post can have the “writing” category label, and then a myriad of tags depending on the post’s subject.
Note: Capitalization is not relevant for a category or tag. Whether you type “Writing,” or “writing”, it’s all the same to the search engines.
Note: WordPress has fields for Categories and Tags. Google Blogger calls categories ‘labels’ and doesn’t have tags.
I hope this clarified the terms for you. A category is a ‘big name’ and a tag is a detail. If you only have one field to fill in, it’s a category and you want to use broad terms.
Do you use categories and tags for your blog posts?
Lisa Jackson is an independent editor, writer, journalist, and chocolate lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to chat with best-selling authors, non-fiction writers, publishers, and other writing professionals on a weekly basis. © Lisa J. Jackson, 2011