How To Use Tags and Categories on a Blog

How To Structure Tags and Categories on a Blog

Using Tags and Categories On A Blog

Taxonomy in biology is the naming and classification of organisms into families, species and subspecies. In blogging, categories and tags are also known as taxonomies. Their sole purpose is to sort and organize content in a logical way to improve the user experience on your site. Meaning, when a user visits your site, they are able to easily browse through your content by topic rather than chronologically, which is how blogs were originally organized.

Categories Are Used For Broadly Grouping Blog Posts

Think of categories as generalizations of content, or a table of contents for your site, if you will. Categories help readers identify what your blog is about. They’re used to help readers find the content relevant to their needs. Categories are hierarchical and can be sub-categorized.

Tags Are Used To Describe The Details Of A Blog Post

Consider tags your site’s index words. Tags are micro-data that you can use to further micro-categorize your content. Unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical. Think of it this way, if your blog were the iTunes store categories would be the genre (Rock, Jazz, Classical) and tags would be the artist (Nirvana, Miles Davis, Yo Yo Ma)

Do You Need Both Categories and Tags on a Blog?

Technically, the answer is no. But the point of an effective website is to create the best, easiest possible user experience so you should use both categories and tags. At the very least, you do need categories. In theory you could place every post into a single category, but that wouldn’t be useful.  Categories should be large groupings of your posts and encompass the subjects that you most often write about. If your posts can be in more than one top-level category you are not grouping your content effectively. 

Tags are not technically necessary, but can be incredibly helpful if you use them correctly. Incorrect use can make them irrelevant to users and diminish the SEO benefits they offer. In fact, if you’re going to write about a topic only once it shouldn’t be added to a post as a tag. Creating a tag that connects to a single post will also create an archive for that tag. Not helpful to the reader and a potential red flag to Google who frowns upon duplicate content.

Tags Help Website Visitors Explore Your Blogs Content

They give your readers an alternate way of exploring your content and, if meaningful, can enhance the user experience. But a blog without tags isn’t hindered your site is still organized and categorized. Plus you won’t end up creating useless links or duplicate content. You can always use internal links and a list of posts for further reading.

Tags do require diligence by blog authors or editors to make sure they’re implemented consistently across a site. Different authors will often pick different tags for the same content. Do you use singular or plural tags? Are tags a specific attribute, or are they random? 

Tags are yet another moving part of your site and in your content strategy that is not necessary for success. They are strictly for your visitors benefit to improve user experience. Tags require planning and review. It’s possible to gain traction with Google and the other search engines without using tags. A blog that is already successfully driving traffic and generating leads is dependent mostly on content. Focusing your energy on creating effective content and skipping the tags won’t affect SEO, but if you have multiple target audiences correctly using tags adds tremendously to your user’s experience.

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

Means-of-Production builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems. 

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