Today while browsing through my daily feeds, I noticed a great post over at Performancing about getting your blog organized with categories and tags.  This post got the creative juices flowing a bit and got me thinking about both categories and tags.

I make it a point to engage in discussions regularly with my fellow bloggers about a variety of topics I have an interest in, including blogging, affiliate marketing, internet real estate, etc.   One thing I always like to find out from fellow WordPress users is whether or not they’re using the tag system that was introduced in WordPress 2.3.   What I’ve found are some very diverse responses, ranging from them not understanding how tags work, to some people that actually prefer to just use tags instead of categories.  Of course in the middle are the people that are attempting to use both.

I personally use categories on all of my sites, but only choose to use tags on a few of them.   For the ones that I do use tags on, I make sure to use the Recommended Tags WordPress plugin so I don’t go overboard with the tags I use.

I’d love to get your take on this.  Do you use categories and/or tags on your blog?

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching WPHacks.com as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Connect with Kyle on Twitter or Google+!

  1. Jeffro2pt0 says:

    Well, I tried at one time to convert my categories into tags so I can go the ALL TAG route but WordPress kept telling me there was nothing to convert :(. So, I’ve stuck with using both categories and tags. However, I use a related posts plugin which is heavily dependent on tags to build relationships between posts.

    I’m currently at 3858 tags on my site heh. Maybe that is a little to many to make them effective. But the related posts plugin works like a charm.

  2. Leland says:

    I voted for categories and tags. Usually I categorize my posts in a more general category, and then use more specific tags to organize them even further. It’s always a good idea though to use something like the All In One or Platinum SEO plugin to prevent these category and tag pages from being indexed, to avoid “duplicate content” issues.

  3. Dave says:

    This is an interesting topic to me and one I will definitely follow the comments on.

    I tend to use categories also. My sense of categories vs. tags is they operate the same way and offer generally the same benefit, but categories, at least to me, seem to offer more “rigor” and tags just seem to get out of hand.

    Personally I’ve never understood why there needs to be two different ways to tag/categorize content. I haven’t read the linked article yet, but if anyone has a really good overview of the difference and how to use each to it’s best advantage, please reponsd in the comments as I’d love to read it.

    I feel like I’m missing something when it comes to tags, but just haven’t had that “blaze of realization” yet.

  4. Kyle Eslick says:

    @Jeffro2pt0 – I’m currently in the same situation on my sites that were around pre-WP 2.3. With my newer sites, I’ve managed to use the Recommended Tags plugin mentioned above to make sure I’m using the same tags repeatedly. That way they actually have some value.

    @Leland – Great point about preventing both tags and categories from being indexed. I use Robots.txt, but those plugins also do a great job with this.

    @Dave – I don’t think I’ve written a detailed post explaining the difference, but I’ll put it on the “post idea” list I mantain!

  5. m@ says:

    I use both. I think being able to quickly see a list of categories is so useful for users that know a little bit about you and want to read only one part, but tags are so infinite, you can’t do without them either. I know there have been time when I’ve wanted to read only about WordPress on some of the WP sites I read and skip the personal stuff. The categories make that easier.

  6. Ralph says:

    I use both myself. Well, on my main site at least. I always use categories however. Tags I feel help to relate certain posts that wouldn’t normally be put together the same with just categories. Also, tags help for the “Related Posts” plugin…

  7. Missy says:

    In reference to categories and tags, i use both as well. I dont see why not.

    As for getting tags based off my blog post content, i use the wordpress pluign, Simple Tags. So far, so good.

    I know there are a few tricks to do with having only certain pages and/ or posts indexed. I have yet to fully look into this. Will do so, and see if i am hurting myself by using both tags and categories.

    Is there a good reason, NOT to use both?

  8. WyldKard says:

    Our philosophy is that categories are a way to organize a site’s content – the categories don’t need to mean anything to the broader blogosphere audience, just to the core readers. Tags, on the other hand, should be very specific, and mean something to any reader stumbling upon the blog in question.

    For example, we used to have a category called “Mechanical Steeds,” which doesn’t mean much to most people. Posts under that category included tags such as “cars”, “motorcycles”, or “fuel”, which is more specific, and meaningful, to the average reader.

  9. Until you recently explained to me what exactly tags were, I didn’t fully understand their relationship with Categories.

    Personally, I’d stay away from using both only because I believe simplicity is important to maintain in a blog. Also, I can see how like with Jeffro above tags can easily get out of hand.

    As a side note, did you just install the WYSIWYG comment editor or have I just been missing it? What plugin are you using, I like it.

  10. The Moderator says:

    I use both myself.

    I use categories for generalities like “City of O’Fallon” and tags for more specific terms like “Robert Lowery, Jr.”. I feel that I get more control that way.

    Then again, I don’t have all the nifty tag plugins installed. Maybe I should look into that, seeing as I ravaged my categories with the ‘category to tag converter.’ I now have 200+ posts with multiple tags and one category, “2008”. UGH!

  11. I use both categories and tags. The olny place tags are disabled are in my tag cloud which just gives a little more avenues of navigation for my users.