Quick Guide to Social Media and WordPress Categories vs Tags



One of the most annoying issues on social media, both from a user and a webmaster perspective is the often faulty categorization by users.

Many people mix topics and categories in a way nobody really can appreciate.

Why does that even matter? When you tag your technology content as animals you won’t get the right visitors and those you get will be annoyed at best.

Introducing a Quick Guide

Thus I present to you a quick guide to social media categorization and tagging.

Why bother in the first place? As I said before, social media is often like channel surfing on the Web. It means that, metaphorically speaking:

don’t put celebs on the discovery channel or cars on the politics channel.

Otherwise you won’t reach your desired audience. Instead you will ostracize people in the worst case. Other than that you get zero engagement.

Wrong categorization means:

  • No traffic beside the initial push of a few people
  • High bounce rate of those people who are not interested in your subject matter
  • Bad and angry reviews
  • Spam reports to site admins

Before we start: what’s the main difference between tags and categories? Usually you can just assign one category to a content piece while you can add several tags.

Sadly on WordPress you can also choose more than one category which makes it even more confusing. As a rule of thumb use one category per content piece as a beginner.

Yeah, I’m on the Internet

My content often gets categorized wrongly. That’s why I wrote about the categories that make sense to share my content in:

  • marketing
  • search
  • social media
  • blogging
  • web development
  • writing
  • business
  • technology

depending of course on the topic of the post. Often people just drop every post of mine in “internet” as it was covering that topic by itself.

When Tim Berners Lee – the inventor of the Web – talks about its future, that’s a post dealing with the Internet. Internet marketing does not deal with the Internet as a whole and might ostracize people.

Even when a post deals with a tiny aspect of the Internet but mostly with a marketing or search specific topic most social media users aren’t interested in it. Mainly marketers will read such a post – not general interest audiences.

Ironically people share my posts that really deal with the Internet as a whole to the marketing category where nobody cares for such broad subjects.

Not Everything is Technology Even When it is

Likewise most people categorize technology posts and websites wrongly. They often end up tagged as science or technology instead of the particular type of tech they are covering. Often these tags are also mix up altogether as if the latest smartphone model was about science.

The science categories on social media are not meant for the latest Internet hype, gadgets or hardware news. You have lots of tagging options for those:

  • internet
  • tools
  • geeky
  • IT
  • computers
  • computer hardware
  • computer science
  • gadgets

There is another problem besides wrong categorization due to lack of understanding the system.

Some of the most bizarre categorizations happen due to the non-intuitive tag to category translation WordPress performs.

Some tags compete with categories but not always the way you think.

For example it may happen when you use both tags and categories on your WordPress site that you end with two different btw. very similar addresses that usually overlap content wise:



This legacy WordPress feature is both confusing visitors and search engines. In the worst case you also get an address like example.com/design2 where Google assumes the keyword is design2 in one word.

When to Use WordPress Categories vs Tags

Over the years I have written for numerous blogs. In some niches, industries or topics tags make sense in others they don’t. For some blogs categories are fine by themselves. Small sites can work without categories whatsoever.

To make sure tags and categories do not get mixed up I often say topics instead because that way the technical part is less important than the actual content part.

Instead of aligning your content strategy with the technical intricacies of WordPress by dealing with topics you first decide what your website is actually about. For example I decided that my blog here deals with mainly three topics:

  • blogging
  • social media
  • search

In contrast I had numerous often redundant or very specific categories that were often confusing. Too many options are leading to cognitive overload. Now I have only a menu with the three mentioned above.

Now adding tags would make sense again. I never used tags here because I was afraid of Google’s duplicate content penalties. Yet on other blogs I have optimized a lot for tags and perform very well with them on Google.

How can you optimize for tags? Make sure that your WordPress tag pages show some meaningful part of the content but not all of it and the thumbnails of the images are visible. It works very well for my cycling blog where I’m in the top 10 for often obscure topis like “wooden bikes”.

Social Media May Decide for You

Last but not least any social media share that is not at all or properly categorized/tagged may end up in the miscellaneous category where most people won’t see it at all.

Think twice before not tagging content just because you are in a hurry or can’t think of the topic.

Sometimes social media will simply decide what your content is about without actually knowing. Do not rely on AI – it often amounts to artificial idiocy. When in doubt use one to three hashtags: #blogging #socialmedia

For example an article I’ve shared on Growth Hackers that was dealing with content, blogging and ecommerce ended up nowhere because somehow the tags I added vanished shortly before hitting the share button.

The headline had “JavaScript” in it so that everybody assumed it’s merely a Web development post just for nerds. It was dead on arrival.

Add more categorization and tagging issues in the comments! I’ll be glad to add them in the post.

* (CC BY-ND 2.0) Creative Commons image by Micheal Theis