Updated March 2013
Blogs are all about posts. Posts can have categories and tags assigned to them; static Pages can’t. Every post ought to be assigned to relevant broad Categories and should have very specific Tags. Each Category and Tag is a one or two word key word descriptor of the content in your post. Categories and Tags provide a means for your posts to be sorted and made available to visitors to your on site (clouds, widget displays, lists), and also make them available to those who have yet to visit.
Potential readers use search engines and when posts are properly constructed and relevant Categories and Tags are accurately assigned to them, they are indexed by search engines and appear in the SERPS (search engine results pages). That means they can be readily located by targeted readers who click through to the posts in question.
Why You Should Tag Your Posts
Search engines detect and use key word descriptor tags when indexing your pages and each tag has a unique descriptive key word term permalink that distributes your pages over the search engines. Use of accurate Categories and Tags helps potential readers doing key word searches locate relevant content in search results, and increases the odds your content will be found by new readers.
Categories and Tags: An Analogy
Tags and Categories are keyword terms used to describe index, locate and retrieve information. Search engines “see” tags and categories as being the same thing and treat them the same way. However when I am asked about assigning Categories and Tags to a post I invoke an analogy.
Categories are like the chapter titles on a Table of Contents of a book. Tags are like the index terms that are found in the back pages of a book. Both are based on key word descriptions that naturally occur in any written language.
Whenever you get confused about categories and tags imagine they are in a library looking for a book on a specific topic. Then, I ask yourself this: Which key words would I use to find book on that topic in a library catalog?
If you change the word “book” to “blog” you will know how to find a blog on any specific topic by typing keywords into a search engine and getting back the results. If you change the word “blog” to “post” and imagine which descriptive key word terms a potential reader might use to look for a post like yours that may help you assign categories and tags more effectively.
Using Categories and Tags Effectively
Select the most relevant keywords that you think other people would type into a search engine and find your blog with. Think in terms of from “broad” (Categories) and “narrow” (Tags). Know also that “less is more”. The aim is to use the least number of relevant key word descriptor terms as possible to accurately describe the contents of any post, and more than a combined total 10 categories and tags on any post is moving towards spamdexing.
Example: Suppose I have a marine mammals of the world blog and I publish my monthly podcasts in posts. The broad Categories would be key word descriptors like “Marine Mammals,” Monthly Podcasts” and the names of the oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian, Southern).
The descriptive key word Tags would differentiate individual posts according to their specific subject matter. One might be tagged “dolphins” another may be tagged “sea lions”, etc. The Tags may also reflect the specific geographical area and/or other unique specific subject matter in the podcast posts.
Blog Post title: The Effects of Polar Bear Predation on Seal Populations in Bering Strait.
Categories: Arctic Ocean, Marine Mammals, Monthly Podcasts
Tags: Bering Strait, feeding, predation, polar bears, seals, population
WordPress.com Global Tag Pages
The WordPress.com global tagging pages send traffic to our blogs. How much it delivers to any given blog varies from blog to blog. When one moves to self hosting a WordPress. org blog they and their blog are no longer part of the WordPress.com community. That means their posts no longer appear under the categories and tags found on the WordPress.com global tagging pages.
Tips from wordpress.com support documentation
If you cannot find a newly published post in the wordpress.com global tag listings for the tag and categories you used, there are several possible explanations.
Google’s Matt Cutts | How to Get Better Visibility on Google