Simple question, really. I know pretty much nothing about SEO, and i'm trying to define a good structure for this clients online magazine.

I already know i'll be using a few custom taxonomies along with categories and tags, but the question is: if not using any SEO plugin, are either Categories, Tags and Custom Taxonomies any more "searchable" or "optimized" than their counterparts?

eg.: Is the category Adamantium any more "relevant" than the adamantium tag or the adamantium custom term just because it's a category (or b/c it's hierarchical)? Does this even make any sense?

  • At the end of the day they are just words, this question might be better over on webmasters.stackexchange.com
    – Wyck
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 22:35
  • well... the internet is just words... :) I just wondered if maybe the process of registering and storing this terms would mean any difference in SEO from them being hierarchical or not, having rewrite rules or not, having show_ui set to true or not i mean, the fine print. But thanks for the link!
    – moraleida
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 22:41
  • 1
    webmasters.stackexchange.com questions touch on SEO much more than here....because your question is not specific to WordPress.
    – Wyck
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


Short answer: No.

When you're working with SEO, there are three things to take into account:

  • Site content
  • Site meta descriptions
  • Site findability (it's a word, I swear!)

Site Content

Search engines will parse your site's content looking for content and keywords. Create good, useful content and it will be fetched, parsed, and recorded appropriately.

Site Meta Descriptions

The meta tags at the top of the page (in the <head> section) tell bots what the page is about. You should have a meta tag for a page description and page keywords. Most SEO plugins will allow you to set these yourself. Some will auto-populate the description with a page/post excerpt and the keywords with page/post tags.

Site Findability

Do you have a sitemap? Is it easy for a user to get to your content? Are there a lot of external links pointing to your page? The most valuable sites and pages on the Internet are linked to from the highest number of external resources.

In Short

Use categories as an administrative tool to categorize your content. Use tags as a user tool to tag relative themes on your site. Use custom taxonomies to further categorize/divide your content. They don't behave any differently in regards to SEO because they have nothing to do with SEO.

  • 1
    Let me get this straight: SEO "value" will only be "calculated" after everything is already rendered on the page? So the way terms are stored or related to in the database has no impact whatsoever on the site ranking?
    – moraleida
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 23:50
  • The search engines can't see the terms and relations in your database at all. The bots look at your rendered page and calculate site rank based on the page's structure, its actual content, and the sites that reference it. You can use terms to help structure your site, but that's an entirely different conversation and has nothing to do with tags vs categories vs custom taxonomies.
    – EAMann
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 4:06

Before I start I just thought I'd make a suggestion and explain why.

I'd suggest using a plug-in for this type of solution. You don't have to use someone else's plug-in, if you know the basics you could create a site specific plug-in for SEO.

Why use a plug-in? Simple, a plug-in can easily be moved if the user decides to change the theme (maybe a different look, maybe the current theme doesn't get updated, and several other possibilities). If the code is added to the theme files versus a plug-in it will take considerable and unnecessary work to update the settings. It's for that reason I would choose a plug-in.

I would also choose a current plug-in for the simple fact that there are so many different directions you can go as a developer, I've had to learn to pick and choose where to break new ground (if you believe in sleep and other normal human activities). There are developers out there that have focused on SEO which makes life easier on the rest of us. If they are willing to share, it follows along the "don't re-invent the wheel" theory.

That being said, if everyone took that stance I guess there wouldn't be much innovative code being produced. If you plan on following SEO and getting to a point that you can contribute original and innovative code then you should roll your own and see what you can come up with.

Whichever way you choose to go, roll your own, or learn from the experts in that specific subject I still believe SEO is best left to plug-ins for better mobility.

I will give you a few examples of things I've picked up along the way:

Good Title Tags: This will help a lot for the SEO of a article based website. If you define the type of posts being written Google will understand it's purpose better and give it a higher value. Here is what I've been using lately:

<?php if (function_exists('is_tag') && is_tag()) { 
      echo 'Tag Archive for &quot;'.$tag.'&quot; - '; 
    elseif (is_archive()) { 
      wp_title(''); echo ' Archive - '; 
    elseif (is_search()) { 
      echo 'Search for &quot;'.wp_specialchars($s).'&quot; - '; 
    elseif (!(is_404()) && (is_single()) || (is_page())) { 
      wp_title(''); echo ' - '; 
    elseif (is_404()) { 
      echo 'Not Found - '; 
    if (is_home()) { bloginfo('name'); 
      echo ' - '; bloginfo('description'); 
    else { 

This helps sort out the different tagging/identifying of content allowed by WordPress. If you're interested you can read more on a very good write up on the subject by Perishable Press

I used to use the All In One SEO plug-in,but I've recently switched to Joost de Valk's -- WordPress SEO by Yoast plug'in and I'm happy with the results.

One more thing, you might consider using a date based permalink structure to get better indexing results from Google.

I hope that helps.

  • That's a very nice answer indeed, thanks. But it's not really what i need. I usually go for WordPress SEO, but i wanted to see if there was any "native" difference without any tweaking.
    – moraleida
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 23:47
  • After re-reading you question I definitely strayed off topic a bit, sorry for that. Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 0:29

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