Categories versus Tags in WordPress

So it has been months since I officially made my switch to WordPress, but between traveling the month of October, the holidays and some personal legal matters that have been consuming my life the past two months I still feel like a newbie. One thing that was on my to-do list, but was put on the back burner was my label organization. Except on WordPress they don’t call them labels, rather categories or tags. When my posts were transferred to WordPress, everything was automatically put into categories, so I had a crazy category list of over two hundred items. I am embarrassed to say it took me this long to organize it, but I won’t lie. On top of the chaos the past few months I also did not really understand the difference between categories and tags so I was leery to tackle this project.

By definition Tags are meant for labels you only use a handful of times. I have read “five to ten” as the magical number to start thinking about making a tag into a category, but I didn’t strictly follow this rule. I think the number that sets one apart from another can only be determined on a case by case basis, and I have some tags that have a dozen articles tied to it and others that hold their own category with only four or five articles. It is important to remember that categories are reserved for the frequently used labels that paint a  picture of what a blog is about and the tags have been saved for brand names, events and specific themes your articles briefly mention.

I have since discovered that there is a menu in WordPress under Tools>Import>Categories and Tags Converter where you can change select categories and tags, and the categories and tags menu seem a lot clearer to me after the recent WordPress update. I did not use this menu, but did things manually so I cannot claim which is quicker or easier, but I would like to think that the import option would speed things up, at least at first. The category heirarchy was a bit misleading and after organizing a few dozen categories using this feature, I realized it didn’t show up any different in my drop down list. These seem to be for the purpose of organization and to help an author find and click on a category faster rather than to benefit the reader.

I personally found the bulk editing feature the easiest for me to use to add tags to a large number of posts, then I edited or deleted the corresponding category after the new tag was added it to the articles in that prior category. The more I research the differences, the more I am inclined to reduce the number of categories I have even further, but the common sense in me has convinced me to sit and wait. I plan on continuing forward with the current categories I have and changed them on an as needed basis in the future. I still have a good number of categories, but it is a slice of pie compared to what I had before and if you need something more specific or don’t want to scroll down the dozens of terms, go ahead and use the search bar. Hopefully this is what people have been doing or resort to first, which is why I have it way up top on my blog so it is easy to access.

It really must have been the stress and life events that clouded my understanding, because as soon as the legal matters resolved last week it “clicked”. Like, duh, I should have done this months ago. The tags I created are currently accessible on the main landing page before the articles towards the footer, but I may move them to the sidebar if you see benefits to them being visible at all times. Shoot me an email if you have any thoughts or preferences on this!

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By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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