Taxonomy: Tags in WordPress

Do you know how to use tags properly when making a post? Tags are easy to use and a very powerful tool. They pick out topics that pertain to the post they correspond with and guide your readers to related topics. They are not, however, to be used like categories, which are similar in definition but are used much differently. Tags are your site’s index words. Categories are the table of contents.

How would you handle your posts if you had a blog about, lets say running marathons. At the very least you would have three categories…training, stories, and community. Within these three categories you could easily separate advice you have to give from the stories from past marathons and still have a space to post about what’s happening in the running community.

Here is where tags come in…

Almost surely you are going to encourage people to train with others, but would you do that in the training category or the community category?

Almost certainly both, and the only thing keeping them together will be a tag called called, “running together.”

You have likely seen and utilized tags before, they are often found at the bottom of each post. If some one reads a post in the training category advising people to find a training partner and they see the “running together” tag, they can click it and be brought to a page that will show every post using that tag.

This will not only increase traffic, but it will make life much easier for you and the reader. The more logically you and others can navigate your site, the better.

This is Called Taxonomy

Before learning to set tags, lets see what the WordPress Codex explains Taxonomy as:

Taxonomy A taxonomy is a way to group things together. For example, I might have a bunch of different types of animals. I can group them together according to various characteristics and then assign those groups names.

So just how easy is it to make a tag?

Incredibly. See the tags section underneath the category section? You will find it when you are making a new post, its in the lower right hand side.

Picture showing where the tags section is

All you have to do now is type in what tags you would like to use. This can be done two ways…

  1. Enter the tag name into the text box and click “Add”.
  2. Select “Choose from most used tags” below the text box to reveal previously used tags.

Example of the WordPress tag menu in the Post Panel.

The Dash 2 Problem with Tags and Categories in WordPress

Categories and tags are stored in the same database table in WordPress. Using a category that is currently a tag may cause a problem with the category slug, the URL/address of the categories. If a tag exists and the user adds the same name as a category, the category slug will be “category-2” as it already exists with that name in the database table. If this happens and you wish to have your categories not have a “dash 2” in the URL, follow this procedure:

  1. Go to Posts > Tags.
  2. Find the tag you wish to be the category. Note which posts are using that tag.
  3. Delete it.
  4. Go to Posts > Categories.
  5. Add the category name or edit the category with the dash 2 to remove the dash and 2, and save.
  6. Using the Bulk Edit feature on the Posts panel, change all the posts that need that tag to include that tag name. The database will then add the dash 2 to the tag.

If your site depends more on tags than categories, and you’ve added the category first, tag second, the tag will have the dash 2. Just follow the above instructions to reverse the process.

Tags: Your Reader’s Index Page

Be sure to use tags as much as possible, when used with care they can be a very powerful tool. They are the gateway to help your readers to related content on your site, just like an index page on a book.

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