What are taxonomies? How do you use them in WordPress? How are they different from categories and tags? 🤔

Staying on top of your WordPress website’s content can be a challenge as it grows. One way to help manage your content is using taxonomies. Taxonomies are a way of grouping, organizing, and categorizing different types of content on your website.

What are taxonomies? Understanding taxonomies

A taxonomy in WordPress refers to organizing and categorizing posts, pages, or custom post types into groups. It is a method for creating relationships between content items based on common attributes, making it easier to search related content.

The two types of WordPress taxonomies

👉 There are two types of taxonomies in WordPress:


Categories can have parent and child categories, forming a tree-like structure. They are typically used to group content based on broad topics. For example, if you have a blog about food, you could create categories such as “Recipes,” “Restaurant Reviews,” and “Cooking Tips.”

When you create a new post, you can assign it to one or more categories. Users can then browse or filter content based on them, making it easier to find related content.


Tags are non-hierarchical taxonomies that don’t have parent or child relationships. They are used to add descriptive keywords to content, allowing for granular categorization. For example, if you have a travel blog, you could use tags such as “Beach,” “Adventure,” or “Europe” to describe the characteristics of a particular post.

Unlike categories, WordPress tags can be created as you create new content, allowing for more flexibility and even helping SEO. Users can search or filter content based on tags that match those specific keywords.

Both categories and tags in WordPress can be displayed in widgets, menus, or used in URLs to create SEO-friendly permalinks.

Why are taxonomies important?

Taxonomies are an important part of WordPress because they help organize content in a way that is easy for visitors to find and they also provide structure for SEO.

The WordPress feature enables users to categorize content into specific topics or groups so that it can be easily found by both readers and search engines. As such, taxonomies help create a better user experience on your website or blog, which can lead to increased traffic and revenue.

Creating custom taxonomies in WordPress

Creating custom taxonomies in WordPress can be done using plugins or by coding manually.

Creating custom taxonomies using plugins 🔌

WordPress provides numerous plugins that make it easy to create custom taxonomies without writing code. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Install and activate a plugin (choose between solutions such as Custom Post Type UI, Toolset Types, and Pods).
  • Create a custom taxonomy through the settings or configuration page for the plugin.
  • Assign the custom taxonomy to content through the custom taxonomy metabox or checkbox provided by the plugin.

Creating custom taxonomies through coding 👩‍💻

If you prefer to code manually, you can create custom taxonomies directly in your theme’s functions.php file or in a custom plugin. Here’s an outline of the steps:

  • In your theme’s functions.php file or a custom plugin file, use the WordPress function register_taxonomy() to define your custom taxonomy – specify the name, slug, labels, and other settings for your custom taxonomy.
  • Assign the custom taxonomy to content by selecting the appropriate term from the custom taxonomy metabox or checkbox when creating or editing.

Choose the method that best fits your technical skills and requirements, and always make sure to back up your WordPress site before making any changes.

Final thoughts 💡

Now that you know the answer to what are taxonomies, you know that a website developer must carefully plan the taxonomy structure that best fits their website goals.

Always think about the categories that are most relevant to your content and consider how they can be organized hierarchically or non-hierarchically to create an intuitive classification system.

1 Comment
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David Myth
February 8, 2024 4:32 pm

Thanks for the article!

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