We talked a lot about categories, tags, and how to incorporate them into widgets in our advanced blogging workshop that took place on Tuesday afternoons at New Pieces Quilt Shop and Gallery in Berkeley, CA.
After all, if you’ve committed to posting an article per week, by the end of a year, you will have a full library of 50+ meaningful articles. Posting these in date order is a valuable PR tool, drawing people to your site on a regular basis. But how can you create even more value out of the time and thought put into writing a good post?
The first plan is to create an indexed library of your posts using categories and tags. I’ll show you how. Then I’ll show you where they appear on a WordPress.com blog, and then I’ll refer you to another blogger who I think has made a marvelous integration of her artistry and blog function.
How to Categorize and Tag
My thinking on this has been that categories and tags in blogging could be compared to the index of a recipe book. The category would be a general subject, like “chicken.” The tags would then list all the ways a chicken could be cooked, like “soup,” “fried,” “baked,” or “salad” and connect the reader to the page of the book where that particular recipe (article) is located.
Baked_______________ p 420
Fried________________ p 306
Salad________________ p 12
Soup________________ p 153
To carry on the cookbook metaphor in your blogging, each time you write a post about chicken, you would select the category “chicken” and select the tag appropriate to the style of cooking before you publish.
Benefits of Categories and Tags
The first place your readers benefit from this organization is in a Category cloud or Tag cloud, assuming you add those widgets to your WordPress.com site. If you want to see this in real-life action, scroll down to the very bottom of my blog, and you’ll see my Category and Tag clouds in the footer.
The second benefit is that some search engines crawl your site for categories and tags. This technique of crawling seems to change every time I read a new article about SEO. If you want to know today’s Google standards, check out Google’s webmaster tools.
The third benefit – and I really think this is the long-range benefit to aspire to – is that you can start creating indexed links on your site to the collected articles under a single tag.
For instance, I’ve written several posts with the tag “New Pieces Quilt Shop.” If I click in my tag cloud on the term “New Pieces Quilt Shop,” a page with all relevant posts is generated: http://cynworks.com/tag/new-pieces-quilt-shop/
I now have a URL that I can use to link to that “library” of posts. I could use it in many ways, such as:
- Within the text of a page as a text link
- As a link from the main menu (using “custom menu” functions)
- As a link from a widget on the sidebar
A blog that I think does the last option particularly well is bigBANG studio.
Now, she’s on a different system, so I believe what WordPress.com calls a “tag,” her system is calling a “label.” But the effect is the same difference. If you click on the icon she’s calling “Painting Posts,” you will arrive at a URL designed to “search/label/work.” Pretty nifty, right?
Certainly, that indexing of your articles is worth the effort of thinking through defining a few key categories and 5-10 frequently used tags, right?