Category vs Tag – What When Who Why and How to use them?

This questions has been puzzling me when I first started blogging. After surfing many newbie and professional blogs, forums, and content sites (wallpaper, software, etc) and skimming through questions and answers about this, I have analysed these experience and came up a conclusion on what, when and how to use Categories and Tags efficiently and effectively.

What are Categories and Tags?

Category and tag are website taxonomy that helps users to organize data. Think of it as classifying an item into its own group with a label attached. Both do the same thing but what distinguish them? Category can have subcategory but tags does not have subtag. Category groups broad topics whereas tag groups related-keyword topics thus connecting posts from unrelated categories.

When to use Categories and Tags?

It’s recommended to use categories to group 5 or more articles that shares common interest where as same tags can be use to link at least 2 or more articles when required. Use tags to help users navigate your website faster with a click rather than having to type specific search keyword that tends to provide users a mix of unrelated search results. You can implement tags based on keyword found in 2 or more similar article that user are likely to search or within their interest.

How to use Categories and Tags?

I believe the best way to learn how to effectively and efficiently use a feature provided such as categories and tags is by going through few examples as illustrated below. This concept same applies to other technologies and tools. From there, you can modify it to suit your needs.

Let’s take an example of Animal Kingdom which can be categorize as mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. A sub-category of fish would be the names of the such as shark because there are various version of it such as Tiger Shark, Lemon Shark and Great White Shark. Now for the other category such as mammals you can have tiger that has sub-category as Siberian Tiger, Sumatran Tiger and Indochinese Tiger. So what have these post such as Great White Shark and Siberian Tiger have in specific common? They are carnivores (eat meat), therefore you can tag them as Carnivore in the post. So when users are interested in carnivore articles, they can click the tag to list out all animals that eats meat. You can apply other tags such as Herbivore and Omnivore to animals that has these characteristics.

Let’s take another example on PC Hardware. There are various components used in building a computer rig and these can be categorized as CPU (Central Processing Unit), MOBO (Motherboard), RAM (Random Access Memory), PSU (Power Supply Unit), GPU/GC (Graphic Processing Unit / Graphic Card), Case (PC Casing), HSF (Heat Sink Fan for CPU/GPU), SSD (Solid State Drive), HDD (Hard Disk Drive). Diving into PSU category, you can find many reviews or guides on different types of power supply unit. You can tag each article by brand and features. Brand such as SeaSonic, Enermax, Rosewill, Corsair, Cooler Master, etc whereas characteristics would be the feature provided such as Modular / Non-Modular, 80Plus (80+ Ranks Bronze / Silver / Gold / Titanium), Fan Size (80mm / 120mm / 140mm), price range ($0-$50 / $51-$100 / $101-$150) aka budget / mainstream / enthusiast / extreme, Intel i7 Compatible, SLI or Crossfire Ready (able to power up 2 or more GPU), Silent Mode (able to cool PSU without fan turned on whle underload or idle or standby) and other certification provided by review sites such as EnergyStars and 80Plus.

Is too many tags on an article is bad?

There are questions whether too many tags can harm your site. It does not however, just limit it at a maximum of 10. Having more than that doesn’t help user much since there are too many options and users tend to skip all of it together. With this tag cap, you can filter out low-quality keyword tag and focus the ones that users frequent most.

How to not use tags incorrectly (spam and abuse tags)?

Most blogs I have visited tends to use a tag that only links to 1 article. The other is a keyword that makes no difference than the other. Take for example these tags listed here: 2.4 GHz, 2.4Ghz, 6 Core, 6Core, Chip, Core, Core 2 Quad, core i9, CoreI9, cpu, ebay, gulftown, i9, Intel, Intel Core i9, IntelCoreI9, leak, leaks, Lga 1366, Lga1366, Processor, six core, sixcore, westmere, westmere gulftown, Xeon, Xeon Westmere, Xeon Westmere Gulftown. As you can see, there are many redundant tags like sixcore vs six core which aren’t beneficial or great for user experience. However, the reason most people do this is to rank high for these misspelled or combined keywords in Google Search Results. Bloggers for Website Administrators should structure their site as user-friendly as possible for people who patronize your site, not for Google Bots and Spider. The easier they find your site to look for information they need, they are more likely to bookmark your site and visit it instead of going to other sites which might have more information but difficult to navigate.

Where should Category and Tag be used?

Bloggers and webmasters who host their website on free or private web hosting can use category and tag provided their site support these features.

Who should use Category and Tag?

People who spend extra time and effort to organize post via tags and categories makes it worthwhile for their loyal patrons and newcomers to hop from one post to the other as they scaveng for information to treat their problem or gain some enlightenment.

Why should we use Category and Tag?

It is not a must to use these but it helps to to find information quickly and easily rather than a needle drop within a haystack. Imagine you have a great site with tons of high quality information that many are engross with. Sadly they can’t get to the content because the site structure makes it rather difficult to find group of related information on the site.

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