Categories and tags are an essential part of your site but so many people get them mixed up or try to use them interchangeably. When we start to think about how to use categories vs tags there is a great way to keep the idea straight, think of an old-school file cabinet!

Categories vs Tags: what are they actually?

Categories vs tags

If you have read any of our content, you know that Johanna likes to use analogies to explain things so let’s stick with that file cabinet one (p.s. this idea was totally shared with me by another bloggity blogger so I am not some goddess that knows all the things). Ready to explore the file cabinet, let’s go!


The website is like your big file cabinet. It holds all of the important information you want to share with your audience. All of your files and paperwork, the vast knowledge that you know about your subject area, services, or products. Other people need to get information from your file cabinet so you should probably have it organized some way to make it easy for them. That is where the categories and tags come into play.

Categories vs tags


The categories are like the drawers of your file cabinet. These are the big ideas. For example, the three categories we use for our website are business productivity, business toolbox, and business website. Categories tend to be fairly general in name but house the same content. For example, the business toolbox category of this site is filled with reviews of business courses, books, and other items to make running your business easier.

A good rule of thumb is to start off with just one or two categories. Over time you can start to add additional categories but always be sure that new categories align with your website’s core purpose. Otherwise, you will ding your SEO ranking. Learn more about SEO with these posts, What is SEO? and SEO for Beginners.

Hanging folders=Tags

Categories vs tags

You cannot just throw your files into the file cabinet drawers, that would just be a mess! The hanging folders keep things organized. That is what tags do, they help to group similar things together. Tags let visitors to your site find similar content on your site, which means they spend more time on your site, which search engines love!


After you have your file cabinet organized, hanging folders installed, you are ready to file away all the individual files! These are your blog posts. Each time you create a new post you assign it to a category. The best practice is to use just one category per post. You can add multiple tags though, remember to use the right tag for the main idea of the posts. Tags are there to group like content, not for search optimization purposes (that is the role of keywords). So remember when it comes to a post (categories vs tags), one category and many tags.

Get to filing!

We hope this helps you to understand categories vs tags a bit more. Need help cleaning up a SEO, categories vs tags “mess” in your file cabinet? We can help! Schedule a call or comment below, let’s chat!

Categories vs tags

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