Content and Copy
As bloggers we face a dilemma which is unique to blogging platforms: how to effectively tag and categorize our posts. Unlike traditional HTML-based websites (and especially those that skew towards ecommerce), blogs are intended to keep people reading and engaged, to entertain, inform and delight. When done right tagging and categorization can add extra layers of relevancy, serve up great related posts and streamline the user experience overall. So, now that we know why using tags and categories is so important, let’s take a look at how it should be done.
I admit it, when I first began blogging over a decade ago, I had no idea what tags or categories were supposed to do or what they even meant. So, I took an approach which is common enough and tagged each post post with about everything under the sun. Honestly, I may as well have inserted a comma after every word in the text and dropped it into the tag box. It was ridiculous and, once I had added about 5 to 100 categories, the side bar was a complete mess. Readers, if I had had any, would have been completely confused and even if they could get over the tower of text they would never be able to find posts that were related or relevant because there were simply too many tags and categories.
So, what is a tag and how does it differ from a category? One of the best ways to think of a category is as if it were a chapter in a reference book (as opposed to a fictional novel which chops things more or less arbitrarily into chapters). As a result, you’re going to have a limited number of chapters that will cover certain topics. This blog for example is laid out with the following chapters (categories):
Simple, right? Now, tags can be though of as sub-headings within each chapter that help to further clarify what is being discussed in a certain section (in our case, a blog post). By following this line of thinking you can clean up the organization of your blog and make it easier for users to find the content they’re interested in.
I hope this brief run-down of the differences between categories and tags has been helpful and I’ll leave you with one final, parting tip: if you find yourself using the same tag ver and over again change it into a category, you’re readers will thank you for it and you can save yourself some carpal tunnel pain in the future.