Before we answer the question, “what are WordPress taxonomies” it’s important to understand what a taxonomy is. A taxonomy is a system of classification that allows for the grouping of items by their characteristics through the use of terms. You can use a taxonomy to organize and index documents, articles, videos, and other things, into hierarchies.
WordPress taxonomies are used to group and organize posts and custom post types together. Custom post types in WordPress can also use taxonomies but are more suited to custom taxonomies.
By default, WordPress includes two taxonomies, which are categories and tags. Taxonomies can be hierarchical, which means they can have a parent-child relationship, such as the case with categories.
What are the Default WordPress Taxonomies?
The two default taxonomies that come installed with WordPress are categories and tags.
Categories are designed to group and organize WordPress posts broadly. You can think of these as general topics and a table of contents for your website.
For example, a Book Review website could have categories for articles under Fiction, Nonfiction, and Biography.
WordPress posts not assigned a category ‘when published’ get automatically assigned to the default category. On a new WordPress website this is the ‘Uncategorized’ category, which can be changed to something more meaningful.
To learn more about changing the WordPress default category, check out our complete guide on how to change the WordPress default category uncategorized.
Categories are also meant to be hierarchical, with parent-child relationships. This means that a WordPress category can have a subcategory or subcategories.
For example, if your Book Review website had a parent category named Sci-fi, a child or subcategory could be named Space.
You can learn more about creating categories in our guide on how to add categories and subcategories in WordPress.
Tags are designed to provide additional topic-specific grouping between posts where categories fall short. Unlike categories, WordPress tags are not meant to be hierarchical, nor are they required.
For example, if you published a post under the category Space, you could assign the author as a tag.
Using categories and tags in WordPress properly can improve your website’s overall SEO.