Many People confuse Tags for Categories or a Subject but they are not. There are few things that keep them different from Categories and they make them more useful for SEO purposes than Categories, especially in WordPress. The most important thing related to SEO that makes the real difference is that Tags provide meta-information, Categories need not. Tags content some meta information as well as can be used as a label to filter certain kind of or type of messages or blog posts and put them under one ‘meta keyword’. Categories in WordPress can not do that atleast for the time being there are limitations.
Though there are few advantages related to categories that we can’t enjoy with Tags. Categories organize, hierarchically and Tags can’t. This is not very important for most of the bloggers who don’t need categories below the depth of one level (Most of us don’t in the real world blogging). So Tags are more important from the SEO point of view than Categories in WordPress, but that is may be not true for all other blogging platforms or CMSes that we need to optimize for Search Engines.
There are few good wordpress articles that can help you to understand the Tags better, few of them are listed below:
Tags have many advantages over categories, as they can describe your blog post in more detailed manner than a category ever could. You can have more number of Tags so more ‘keywords’ and the number is not limited so you can have as many Tags as you want. Tag clouds can give a visitor of your blog a visual idea about what is discussed the most in the blog or the blog is about what topic or topics and hence can generate more traffic for you.
As stated on the Tags v/s Categories page there are no certain advantages of using Tags or Categories in general, but they can give you better idea about your content as well as have some advantages with future SEO work you can do based upon this. Statement from the Tags v/s Categories page is shown below for your reference:
Is there any advantage to using tags or categories, or both?
No. There is no advantage within WordPress.com and external search engines using one or the other.
There are few things that you should keep in mind when you are tagging your articles, pages or blog posts in any blogging tool including wordpress.
- Tags should be relevant to topic or article you are discussing, off topic Tags can prove fatal for your Articles Search Engine Ranking.
- Don’t use excessive number of Tags in one article, 4 – 7 tags are enough in most cases and you don’t even need more than that.
- If you have a category say “India” you should have tag “Dog” for a weblog or article about dogs in India. It helps you generate different url for both category and tag.
- Submit your Tag urls, Tag Clouds to Tag Services and RSS feeds. It may help search engines better index your website.
Once you have added relevant and useful tags to your article you should give your best to make sure that search engines and tag services can crawl your site and put it in their database (you also canuse .xml sitemaps for this). Always remember that Tags are more powerful as “keywords” compared to categories. There are no immediate benefits of tagging your articles or blog posts but there certainly are few long term advantages that you should not miss.
Most popular WordPress.com tags are listed here and are regularly updated for the most tagged “keywords” on WordPress.