One of the things that a budding blogger is least bothered about is organizing the blog contents via categories. Nine out of ten new blogs that you come across will not have proper categories defined and their content is usually accessed via Archives or some labels that are not optimized. Categorizing a blog is not just about ease of use. It is about maintaining a logical sequence and showcasing easily spotted, optimum number of groups. There is no doubt that organized categories will make your first-time readers stay longer.
In fact, the topic we are dealing here in this post is not categories but another related but more powerful entity viz. the tags I wanted to start with categories because in certain platforms like Google’s blogger (that powers your blogspot.com personal space), there is no concept of categories and that responsibility is taken care of by labels. If you would like to know how to categorize your blogger based blog without disturbing your labels, please read this article.
The importance of tags or labels
The term ‘label’ is used only by blogger and hence I would refrain from using it henceforth. Let us rather use the term ‘tag’ which is the generic and widely accepted name for what it is meant for. Tags are basically connotations that help search engines, blog directories and Web 2.0 aggregators to automatically discover and index your contents. Every time you create or edit a post basically ping services and/or search engines are instructed to visit your blog and index them. This means that within minutes of your completing the post, your contents would have been indexed and made visible to millions of users worldwide via search portals and social network services. Sounds exciting right?
Now, when these search engine bots visit your blog they use tags to index related contents. This means that if you are carefully picking the right tag or set of tags for each post you are improving the chances of making your blog post more visible. In short, tags are meant for bots to help promote your content better where as categories are to help serve your readers (humans) better!
Know your tags well
Once you have finished editing a post you need to spend a few moments to pick the right tags. You have to think what keywords describe your post well and those keywords need to be easily understood and most commonly used terminology in that context as well. It is often ideal to pick more than one tag (or even synonyms) which improve the chances of getting indexed better in more than one way. For example, if you are writing an article that has ‘site optimization tips’ you might want to use tags like ‘search engine optimization’, ‘seo’ and even ‘search engine’ may be.
Once you start picking your tags, you need to make it a habit to reuse them in applicable contexts instead of inventing variations of already existing tags. So if you are not careful you may end up with a number of similar tags, some of them even useless. The tag cloud widget in platforms like WordPress can list all existing tags in the order of their weightage (or usage). In Blogger platform, before you make a post you can check for your labels (sorry for using it again!) There are also a number of plugins available that can help you organize your tags, use them while editing as well as group edit tags for a number of posts together.
If you search around in your favorite social bookmarking or content aggregation sites you should be able to easily spot most common tags that you can reuse next time you write a post.
Technical Piece: WordPress internally stores both tags and categories in the same table. If you happen to choose a tag name that has the same ‘slug’ (not the category name as such) as a category, it may confuse the system. So be careful not to choose a category slug that has the same spelling as a tag. If you happen to make this mistake, try to correct the category slug rather than the tag itself.