The Difference Between Keywords, TAGS, and Categories

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The Difference Between Keywords, TAGS, and Categories

This is probably one of the biggest questions I get. These three types of SEO terms can get confusing and many don't know the difference much less the point of them.tags, keywords and categories


- A keyword is what you want a page or post known for. This is the word or phrase you research on the Google keyword tool AND the search bar to determine what people are actually looking for and how high is your competition. (See - how to optimize a post for more on that). Once you have 1-3 keywords or phrases that you want to focus on, you naturally add them into your content.  You want to have this phrase or word about 1-3% of the content text itself AND include it in the title of the post AND description if you have a space for that. This is typically allowed on WordPress or other website meta data. The keywords on the meta data doesn't really mean much anymore but make sure your phrase or word is in the description AND the title of the page or post. This is what your post is now known for.  Google will then solidify this page with those keywords or phrases and rank it accordingly.


Tags are used primarily in blog settings but some non-blogging platform sites may offer them as well. A TAG is a word or phrase that will categorize your post into clumps of posts all carrying that same tag. For instance: If you wrote a post or page about foreclosures in Wenatchee Washington, your tags would probably be:  "foreclosures" - "wenatchee" - "real estate" - "wenatchee washington" TAGS are case sensitive so once you choose a tag, use it the same way every time. Wenatchee and wenatchee can be seen as two separate tags. It's best to keep everything lower case for TAGS.

Now the next time you write a post or page, maybe this one is on Events in Wenatchee Washington, you will use the tags "wenatchee" and "wenatchee washington" (you may choose to add more such as "wenatchee events") NOW you have two pages using the same two tags. The more you use the same tags for different posts or pages the more important that tag becomes thus anchoring your site with that topic more and more. PLUS if you or anyone else clicks on that tag - either at the bottom of the post, page or if you have a TAG CLOUD showing all your TAGS on the side bar, they will be brought to a page with every post or page listed that included that tag. So you have basically categorized your posts in TAG format AND you have solidified your entire site with whatever TAGS you use most often. TAGS and keywords can be the same but TAGS tend to be shorter phrases or one word.


A category is just that. Most blogging platforms and especially WordPress use categories to clump together the posts into a more user friendly way. Unlike TAGS, categories are more for the reader than the search engines. Take our example above: We would probably have a category for Wenatchee Buyers, Wenatchee Sellers, Wenatchee Foreclosures, Wenatchee Information etc... Then anytime a reader clicks on that category, every post you put in that category will show up in list format. If a buyer only wants information on buying Wenatchee real estate, they can click on the category and see a list of all the buyers information written on that site. Same with sellers or whatever category you have chosen to make.

Categories are more for human readers, TAGS are more for search engines, and keywords are for both.

Remember to use your keywords in your title, description and content, TAG your post appropriately with 3 or 4 basic subjects and put your post in the right category for readers to organize what they want to read.


Posted by

Personal SEO Tim and Tammy Emineth

Personal SEO Facebook Page Personal SEO Instagram Page Tammy Emineth Pinterest Page Personal SEO Linkedin Page Linkedin Page


Tim and Tammy Emineth have owned Personal SEO since 2004. We focus on SEO first whether it's blogging, images, website design, IDX solutions and calls to action. We operate with a Storybrand philosophy to encourage more traffic to your site, more eyes on your content and more leads to your business. Call us or email us for a free website audit.

Tim: 425-443-8372  Tammy: 425-344-0677

Comments (147)

Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Tammy -

As always - a great deal of information to make our careers shine!
Thanks for the lesson.  (re-blog)

Have a happy day -

Nov 25, 2011 05:38 AM
Jayson Holland - Denver, CO
Jay Holland

Super informative. Thanks for sharing!


Nov 26, 2011 03:23 AM
Cheryl Dickson
Retired Realtor / Retired Home Inspector - Oklahoma City, OK
Retired Realtor, GRI / Retired Home Inspector

Tammy, Thank You, I didn't have a clue, so this was very helpful! Glad I saw this post!

Dec 02, 2011 08:58 PM
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

What a great explanation. Thanks to Richard Yates, I just landed here. 

Dec 15, 2011 02:46 PM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe .Just Call. 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Obviously, lots of people found this SEO, tag and keyword info useful. Thanks.

Dec 18, 2011 03:53 PM
Anita Clark
Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055 - Warner Robins, GA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA

Tammy: Very good information that we can all benefit from.  Congrats on the feature too!

Dec 18, 2011 04:39 PM
Doug Bullwinkel
Envoy Mortgage,NMLS ID 6666 - Sacramento, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #281609

Wow Tammy!  You really hit the nail on the head with this post.  I can see by the comments that this is a very important topic and you've provided some great information for everyone. 

Dec 18, 2011 05:33 PM
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta

I didn't realize that tags were case sensitive. Thank you, this was very helpful!

Dec 21, 2011 12:37 AM
Robert Dickens

Great explanation! Easy to understand. Thanks.

Dec 28, 2011 06:56 AM
Jack Koetting


Very clear, concise and to the point.  Good information for those just starting a blog, and even experienced bloggers.  As a fellow Missourian, thanks for the "show me".

Much success!


Jan 12, 2012 09:45 AM
Linda Holloway
Keller Williams Realty Tampa Central - Tampa, FL
REALTOR®, Your Next Home in Tampa Bay Starts Here!

Hi Tammy, I am so glad that John McCormack re-blogged this post.  I have wondered about the difference between keywords, tags, and categories.  Excellent information!

Mar 11, 2012 11:29 PM
Fred Ferguson

Hi Tammy! I found your post in my Google+ stream posted be Delicious Decors Santa Barbara 

I want to thank you for that! I'm not brand new at this but new enough that there are things I don't know... and also things I don't know that I don't know! Every time I see a post like this I get to learn something valueable to me that was not yet understood as important. The learning curve I find to be steep but to be honest I have to admit at 60 I'm addicted to everything to do with IM

Mar 20, 2012 04:07 AM
Penny Bergstrom
Delicious Decors, Stage, Design, Remodel 805.448.9226 - Santa Barbara, CA
Home Staging, Interior, Design & Remodel, Santa Barbara to LA

Hey Tammy, I re-posted your blog on G+ to help spread the word. Terrific blog, easy to follow and understand. I'll look for you on G+ to add you to my circles. 

Mar 20, 2012 04:23 AM
Arthur Art-Faux Designs

Tammy, Although this is well explained and some good insight you really should complete the longer side of the SEO part of the differences and the dangers of using keywords,categories and tags when it comes to like kind content. Especially with categories and tags. Although you can use both you must have one or the other listed as "no Index" to avoid the issues of double and even triple content that could be indexed by Google and other search engines. Even using the "no follow" attributes in a "robot.txt" file most likely will not stop the indexing of both category and tag indexing that Google will do. For instance if you write a post under a category for "marketing" most likely it will get indexed by Google. However if you also have the "tag" word "marketing" this also will get indexed by the search engines thus having two pages indexed with the same content and can end up with a nice little slap from Google eventually. When explaining SEO things like this can not be simply explained in a 2 or 300 word blog post and be fully understood. This topic goes way beyond than just a simple explanation that you give here. I can only hope that every one here who has read this post understand these other important facts when it comes to like kind and double content and are using the "no indexing" attributes with either or for the catagories and tags......Peace!

PS, It might be a good idea to do a follow up post regarding the indexing and no indexing attributes because this is only part of an important issue. I do enjoy your posts

Jun 22, 2012 07:48 AM

Hi, really nice post, but you got me confused with one phrase. First you say:

A TAG is a word or phrase that will categorize your post into clumps of posts all carrying that same tag.

This is also the concept I had of a tag: it helps your users to navigate through your site more easily as the content is more organized. But further on you say: 

Categories are more for human readers, TAGS are more for search engines, and keywords are for both.

Tags are more for search engines? This is what I don´understand, weren´t they supposed to just organize the content better in an internal way inside your blog? Maybe you are referring to METATAGS? The meta information inserted into the source code of the site, to tell search engines info about the site (in contrast to the tags used to categorize internally your content, visible to users). In this article tags are described as an "on-site filling system":

This other article also speaks about METATAGS; again, I think these are the ones you refer to when you say "TAGS are more for search engines" (in which case the term "tags" would be incorrectly used, been "metatags" the correct one). Here´s the article:

I just say all this because I want to have the terms clear in my head, right now I have a confussion on this. Otherwise the rest of the article is really great and it expanded my knowledge on the subject, specially regarding categories. Still, let me know if what I say is correct and the correct term in that phrase would be "metatag" instead of "tag". 



Jun 23, 2012 11:11 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Sounds like Keywords and Tags have a lot of overlap.  I have tended to use them about the same way.  Great post.

Jul 07, 2012 01:32 PM
Dwight Puntigan
DRP Realty, LLC - Saint Peters, MO
Dwight Puntigan

Thanks, I need to make time now to goa and check my use of keywords.

Dec 14, 2012 03:41 AM
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

Thank you, Tammy. Good introduction to something I need to learn a lot more about.

May 07, 2013 08:56 AM
Greg Large
ERA Real Solutions - Grove City, OH
A Tradition of Trust


I *think* this would be an example of a "long tail" post since I found it and referenced it here.




Oct 05, 2013 12:16 AM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Tammy- it is funny that I found this post in 2015, but the good thing is that I still found it and was glad I did.

Feb 05, 2015 10:21 AM