No matter whether you read and/or write blogs, knowing something about categories and tags can help you. (Part two of this post will be written more for readers of posts, but still of interest to bloggers. If you’re not a blogger, you can skip to the last part of this article.)
For bloggers and web-designers
When I started blogging I didn’t have a clear idea of the difference between categories and tags. This article, “Using Categories and Tags Effectively on Your Blog,” from Problogger will help you to get the big picture. I recommend you read it to learn the difference and then return to this post. I like to think of categories as the table of contents for my blog and the tags as if they are part of the index in the back of a book.
Welcome back! I hope that explanation was helpful.
As the Problogger article states, preferably use just a few categories and also reflect that in your navigation. Our family/ministry site uses these two principles (see MikeAndSus.Org). You’ll notice pages are across the very top of the blog. The categories are under the blog title and also have a dropdown feature for sub-categories. Also see Michael Hyatt’s popular blog for another similar structure. (Depending on your blogging platform, you should be able to get the look of a website with the use of categories. Read more and also find additional Campus Crusade staff blogs that look like websites.)
The structure for Mashable is a good example of how to use many categories when you have to; their categories are easy to navigate.
You should be able to decide what categories and what tags to use for every post you publish. The category you choose should reflect your navigation. Your tags can help your readers find more of your posts about the same subject and also draw in new readers who are searching for these keywords on the internet. (Read “Best Tags and Keywords for Your Blog.”)
I disagree with Problogger that a blog post should only always use one category. Occasionally, I like to add one or two more categories to some of my posts. For instance, if I wrote about our daughter sharing her faith, I would put the post in two categories: “how to share your faith” and “Jenn”. A family friend may be interested in posts about Jenn and her news while another reader is checking out my posts on sharing your faith as a way of life. (If your blog has a featured slide show across the top, you’ll need to have just one category for your post until the post is no longer featured.)
I recently spent many hours re-structuring eQuipping for eMinistry (e4e) using categories. Ideally, I would have spent time thinking through the tags, the categories, and the structure when I started e4e, so I hope this post is especially helpful to beginning bloggers to incorporate categories and tags properly in your new blog as you start out. (I still have some “cleaning up” to do in categories and tags.)
Part two is for bloggers and readers and will cover using categories and tags to:
- create a partial feed from a blog to an RSS reader (such as posts about productivity or leadership only instead of all the posts on Michael Hyatt’s blog)
- do better searches on a site
- bring more readers to your blog
- get the most out of the content on e4e
Part two will also present some uses for multiple categories and tags.