Readers, Do You Understand Categories and Tags?


Knowing something about categories and tags can help you narrow down what you want to follow or read on your favorite sites… or even just for browsing. Generally, clicking on tags in a blog can help you find similar subjects in other blogs. Categories should be within a specific blog. We’ll focus mainly on categories today.

Understanding Categories

Let’s take Mashable as our first example. Now here’s a site that could overwhelm you! They’ve grouped some topics as you scroll down the home page, but, for me, I click on a category at the top, like “social media” or “tech.” (Their categories also have drop-downs to narrow your browsing even further.)

When you’re reading their posts, you’ll notice more categories at the end as well, so open up this article, The Robot Flash Mob is Here, about collective artificial intelligence (cute, swarming robots and an interesting video). Now scroll to the bottom. The categories after the article include “Harvard” and “robots.” If you click on one of these, you’ll find all Mashable’s posts about robots, for instance.

Some bloggers may not have a clear picture of how to use categories and tags well, but click around on your favorite sites to see if these links improve your reading experience.

(Before you leave Mashable, look for the big OOPS in the Downton Abbey publicity photo.)

Concerning Feeds

In general, most people don’t go to a site to read. They expect the news to come to them through a feed.

So, are you receiving blog posts in an email or in a feed reader (news aggregator)? If you aren’t, read How to Use RSS Feeds for a simple explanation of feeds and readers. The author recommends Google Reader, which has been discontinued. The 10 Best News Aggregator Apps for Those on the Go should have one that you’ll like to use.  Check the recommendations over because some apps work on only certain devices. All of these will format your feeds with text and photos so you essentially have your own visually-attractive online newspaper or magazine with the news and blog posts you want (I use Feedly).

Did you know you can follow the feed for just a category instead of receiving everything from a blog? We’ll use Michael Hyatt’s popular blog to illustrate.  He uses categories well. Every post he writes fits into one of five categories which are available right across the top of his blog posts. When you click on one of these, you’ll see, for example, a URL like this one, http://michaelhyatt.com/category/leadership, which brings up all his posts on leadership only. If you use a feed reader and type in “michaelhyatt.com/feed” you’ll receive everything he writes. In order to follow a category-only feed, make sure “category” is in the URL and add “feed” after the forward slash. Type in “michaelhyatt.com/category/productivity/feed” to receive Michael Hyatt’s productivity posts only. You should be able to do this in many sites.

What blogs do you like to follow?

NOTE: The tag image is available from Wikimedia Commons.

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