LearnTags Vs Categories

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writes on February 19, 2010

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We’ve all done it, written a post and then spent the following few minutes adding tags and assigning it to multiple categories. It’s all all good for Google juice, right? Well maybe not.

In this 2 minute video from the excellent Google Webmaster Help channel on YouTube Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, explains that all we really need is a single category and a well written article.

Watch the video on YouTube

15 Responses to “Tags Vs Categories”

  1. I’m creating a new site and was deciding whether to use categories, tags, or both. For instance, a link called, “Reeder for Mac” with “feeds, mac, reeder, rss, links”. (This is an example from another site). In their case, feeds, mac, reeder, and rss, are each tags. Clicking on any of them will go to a page listing any posts with that tag. “links”, which on the page looks just like the tags, is actually a category, and is linked to any posts that are in the category links.

    So this question is not related to SEO at all which it seems this post was focused on. I’m only thinking from a usability standpoint and maintenance. Gmail has all but replaced folders with labels. (aka replaced categories with tags). So in my example, is there a reason to use categories at all in a CMS such as ExpressionEngine anymore compared to tags?

    Once again, this assumes your only using a few ‘tags’, and not ‘tag clouds’ as noted in the video. Thanks!

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing. You have done a brilliant job. Your article is truly relevant to my study at this moment, and I am really happy I discovered your website. However, I would like to see more details about this topic. I’m going to keep coming back here.

  3. I have been using Tagaroo plugin for WordPress for Tags. It uses Open Calais Semantic API. So I only need to put it in the right category and tags are not my headache anymore. It suggests me tags and I simply click yes.

  4. Tags and categories can be helpful sometimes. For example some blogs really need to sort posts in many different categories. We review iPhone apps so every post needs to be sorted according to the genre, price, rating, device etc. Now I have been following real time analytic on our blog and have noticed that readers like to visit tagged pages so that they can discover related content and this certainly increases your page views and reduces bounce rate. Now, in the video it says that Tags do not carry SEO value but in my experience so far sometimes a Tagged page ranks higher than the actual post page with the same content. I would say one must not spend too much time on tags but defining deep categories and having a few tags can help your readers discover new content.

  5. I think this is a good point, from an SEO standpoint, you are better of using a clean microformat like hNews with detailed info on your content, producer and some tags. But from a user perspective, it’s nice to put some tags front and center linking to similar content no?
    And if you are a content producer, not a blogger, semantics and proper tagging ease the pain of finding and relating similar content in the back end of your CMS. And propagating that content to your other pubs n partners.
    Have a great weekend. Time to play some bball with the boy.
    Love Carsonified btw.

  6. Wow, that makes a lot of sense. There is a bit of unnecessary redundancy with tags and categories in blogs if you think about it. The “two is one and one is none” philosophy doesn’t apply here.

  7. I still think it can be perfectly healthy to use tags, even from an SEO standpoint. I tend to create very few broad categories for my blogs and use more specific tags (with a limit of about 3 per post). You can use different words for these tags then for your categories, and even different words than your main copy. This should all help give search engines a broader understanding of what your content is about.

    (eg. Category: Social media, Tagged: twitter, business)

    Of course, tags are for users first, search engines second.

  8. thanks for the reall useful tips from matt cutts like us new bloggers, its really helpful. but can we change the permalinks. will it affect the votes and google Page rank ??

  9. What it really comes down to is the user experience (which should be king anyway, even above Google Rankings). Speaking of which, I’ve never met a user who finds Tag Clouds helpful.

  10. Google has been saying for a long time now that a well designed site with features that are useful to your visitors is the best way to go. Does that mean we’re put too much emphasis on SEO and forgetting what the user might need?

    I feel that we should be striking a healthy balance of clean categories and a few basic tags (not keyword stuffing). This should be more then enough to help your quality content rank well with Google and what’s more important if a user can find other relevant articles through the use of good tagging (which is usually more precise then categories) they might feel more inclined to become a subscriber rather then just pass through.

    That’s my thoughts on the matter although I will happily admit I’m far off being able to call myself a blogger at this time. I still think its well worth consideration though.

  11. I’m usually use tags and categories to organize my site link, it’s necessary for me, even I don’t make them to be Follow by spider. Tags helps a site to get more indexed pages in SE, if they were rel follow but it’s can be risky as they were make more duplicate content to your site.

  12. I’ve never really thought about tags as a SEO thing. I use them for browsing content, but it’s only in some contexts that tags are useful if there already are categories available.

  13. Thanks for this! I was debating same thing with friend few hours ago and its great to know I was right. 🙂

  14. Aloha and Mahalo for a great daily dose of Vitamin “G”. I kowtow graciously to you guys for finally putting a stop to this long held argument over tags vs categories.

    I must add I have been getting it wrong all this time :(.

    Thanks for the advice and my free copy of Crush IT,

    #Aloha

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