Taxonomies in WordPress: Everything You Need to Know!

Taxonomies in WordPress: Everything You Need to Know!

No matter how great your content is, SEO-optimized your website is, or just how great it looks. The visitors to your website expect the content to be informative, detailed, precise, etc., etc. But, most importantly, in an order that is easy to navigate through, intuitive, and feels personalized.

And this is where WordPress taxonomies come into the picture. Taxonomies in WordPress are a method of grouping post types and custom post types. Think of a chain connecting all the pictures in a collage, making it easy for anyone to understand the hierarchical order. That’s what taxonomies do to your content on WordPress!

But before we venture down the taxonomical lane, you must know Everything about WordPress Post Types. Taxonomies are directly related and applied to WordPress post types, so a revision sounds good right? Now, if you are done with your homework (or just reading ahead 🙃), let’s get down to understanding and decoding WordPress taxonomies.

What are WordPress Taxonomies?

As I told you earlier, they’re just a way of grouping post types together. Let’s take the example of WPWhiteboard (WPWB). We try to push towards our single goal (which is our tagline too! 🚀) – All-Thing-Everything WordPress.

Now, we have different types of resources on our website, talking about everything in and around WordPress. Like plugins, themes, Gutenberg, release, insights, tips, tricks, etc. This article is in the Beginner’s Guide, which is a broad category housing different articles.

But, you might also be looking for something in particular, like an article that talks about security in the Beginner’s Guide. Just how do you find it? With a search bar, well, we don’t have it…..yet (btw WPWB is undergoing a major design overhaul, be prepared for a more exclusive and eye-pleasing reading experience!).

So, searching for an article that talks about security or hosting which comes under the Beginner’s Guide. Sounds complicated enough, but all thanks to taxonomies in WordPress, this can be done…easily!

You must’ve not heard the term ‘taxonomies’ unless you’re a developer. But, I’m very sure you’ve seen and used them throughout your internet surfing and blog reading journey! Today, every website which has a lot of content uses taxonomies to sort, group, and organize their content.

Why do I Need WordPress taxonomies?

The primary and extremely crucial advantage of using taxonomies on your WordPress website is Navigation and UX (User Experience). As the content on your website leverages the power of taxonomies, your visitors/readers can search and go through all the content of your website freely and easily.

And coming to the UX part of it, websites are not just digital pages, they are the face of the brand, company, blog, etc. And everyone, literally everyone is pushing to create a personalized and immersive experience for the users. Then why do you want to hold back on more visitors, conversions, etc.?

Take Amazon or other e-Com websites for example. Right on the homepage, you’ve got all the categories like TV, Gaming Consoles, Vinyl, etc. So a shopper can directly get into what they’re looking for, fix on something they like fast, and purchase! If the website didn’t leverage taxonomies, shoppers would find it hard to sail through millions of products, plus more time spent window-shopping, more sense gets into our brain, and boom…no purchase (hehe)!

It is also useful for on-page optimization. While there are many ways to optimize your WordPress site, having a website easy to navigate and use will make it easier for search engines to find content and your site overall.

It’s all about creating an experience and projecting your content/products/services that are easily visible no matter what the number is. Because, in today’s world we’re running out of patience fast (which is not good, food for thought). We want everything instant, right here at our comfortable location, on our demand, etc., etc.

Still, wondering why you need taxonomy in WordPress and on your website?

Default taxonomies in WordPress

By default, there are 2 types of taxonomies in WordPress – Categories and Tags. These allow you to hold, chain, and organize the content on your WordPress website. This will enable your visitors to find the content they like while having a seamless navigation experience.

Now, let’s understand each and then distinguish them to leave no traces of confusion, either in our minds or on your website!

Categories

Categories are hierarchical WordPress taxonomies because they can be arranged into parent and child categories (if needed). In simple terms, categories allow you to broadly group your content under which many things can come in. Let’s take an example of taxonomy in WordPress with WPWB, yes WPWhiteBoard. But instead of WordPress, let’s say we write about recipes and All-Thing-Everything-Food!

In the mouth-watering revamp of WPWB, you can find a lot of recipes to cook from, a list of must-have dishes from unheard and top restaurants, etc. Now, all of this sounds hungry, but you as a visitor would be flooded with content, having a tough time navigating across the website, right?

If there are categories present like breakfast, lunch, dinner, cuisines, etc. You can easily find the broad topic of recipes or dishes you’re looking for. Thus, step one of making navigation intuitive and seamless, done!

Tags

Tags are non-hierarchical WordPress taxonomies as they are often unrelated and narrow with respect to their relation with the content. Continuing the same example of WPWB food blog, you have all the broad categories but what if you’re looking for something in particular?

You feel like cooking something special for dinner today. You’re on WPWB, checking out different categories but one thing you have decided, you want a recipe with the main ingredient – Egg!

This is where tags come into the picture, enabling you to precisely reach the article/recipe/dish you’re looking for on a website. Thus, step two of making navigation intuitive and seamless, done!

Keeping the same egg dish in mind, the dish can have more tags like pepper, spicy, etc. So, one article/content can have as many tags as you want.

This sums up the major taxonomies in WordPress. There are two more but they aren’t visible to site users. But you should know about them, as they are pretty important to a WordPress website.

Note: Each post can have ‘n’ number of tags, but only one primary category. Importantly, having a category in an article, product, etc. is considered a good practice (if your website requires it, have it, else not!). While you can have an article, product, etc. with no tags.

Link Categories

This WordPress taxonomy allows you to categorically organize the links on your website’s content.

If you’re into blogging and like using a lot of links on your blog, which lead to different content, both internal and external, then amigo, this link category is something you’ll find extremely useful!

Note: As of Version 3.5, the Links Manager and blogroll are hidden for new installs and any existing WordPress installs that do not have any links. If you are upgrading from a previous version of WordPress with any active links, the Links Manager will continue to function as normal. If you would like to restore the Links panel to your install you may download and install the Links Manager plugin. This page is still relevant for any user with an existing Links Manager or with the plugin installed.

Post_Format Taxonomies

Well, this is for those who want squeaky organized content on their website. With the post_format taxonomy, you can categorize and help with content classification on your WordPress website. Organize posts according to different types – audio, video, standard, etc.

You can find this panel right next to the WordPress visual editor.

Note: Post_Format taxonomy is only visible if your WordPress website’s current theme supports it. A theme can disable post format taxonomy totally!

Tips for Using Categories and Tags in WordPress

Well, first to add categories and tags in WordPress, the interface is a bit different. This is what it looks like:

Image: Adding Taxonomies to Posts via Post Edit Feature
Adding taxonomy via Quick edit
Image: Adding Taxonomies to Posts via Quick Edit Feature
Adding taxonomy via Post edit feature

I’d recommend adding a category to your post because it enables a better organization of content on your WordPress website. Well, it depends on use-cases, if your website doesn’t need it, it’s not necessary to use it. Also, categories are hierarchical, i.e., you can add subcategories to them. Thus, enabling you to branch one broad topic into subtopics, creating a tree-like content structure. Tags are not hierarchical, so no sub-parts or branches.

Categories define a broad definition that will hold a group of posts in it. The posts in one category can have different tags and subcategories. Thus, websites usually have around 10-12 categories. Tags on the other hand are applicable to one or few posts. They define specific posts and sometimes special posts. It is completely normal for websites to have hundreds of tags.

In case you’re wondering, yes, you can add multiple categories to a post. But, there should be one primary category that the post belongs to. Look here:

Now, you need to remember that not every post should fit into more than one category. If you’re grouping posts into multiple categories, I think you should reconsider whether the categories are meeting the depth and broadness of the content on your website. 

Hey, you can also create custom taxonomies. You can use plugins, or code your way through. Custom taxonomies, as the name suggests, refer to customized bundles of posts. Besides default taxonomies like categories and tags, WordPress enables you to create custom taxonomies as well. The next article in Beginner’s Guide will be about this only, telling you WPWB has got you covered! 😉

Conclusion

You may not realize that you have been using taxonomies way before you knew it formally. It’s just the name that sounds new. Let’s take an example again to clear up any remaining confusion.

It’s December, cold ☃️, cold 🥶. You want a warm yet cool-looking jacket. There is this store that you know sells good clothes, so you’re checking out their website. You know you want a jacket, so how will you navigate through it?

First, you’ll select your gender, then —> Winter Collection —> Jackets. Done, you’re surfing through the latest drip. All this navigation that you went through is nothing but taxonomies: categories and tags. Much much much easier than scrolling through thousands of items to find your jacket, right?

WordPress is a beautiful piece of software and a world of its own. At WPWB, we’ll uncover the mysteries, intricacies, and All-Thing Everything WordPress. Stay tuned for more articles coming your way. Till then, feel free to drop your comments, thoughts, and opinions. Looking for more? Subscribe to our newsletter and you can always drop your views at [email protected].

FAQs

Can I assign multiple categories to a Post?

Yes, you can have more than one category assigned to one post. Although, it is advisable to have one category per post. In some cases, a post can have multiple categories, but, if you find yourself doing it often, then you should reconsider the depth of categories on your website.

How many categories can I have for my website?

You can create and use as many categories as you want for your WordPress website. But, generally, most of the websites have 10-12 categories. As excess of anything is bad. All things aside, it’s your decision! (Ps. advice… Do what successful websites/blogs have been doing. Thus, 10-12 categories are the sweet spot. You can have lesser too, no problem, but don’t tryna exceed that number.🤔)

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