Blog Categories and Tags: How To and What For

CompassWhen people new to blogging start using categories and tags, it often turns into a everything for everyone type of situation. Beginning bloggers create a category for everything, and sometimes a conflicting tag to match. The end result is a blog that has a poor user experience, no clear way to navigate between posts and limited ways to grow.

You need to think of categories and tags as a way for your readers/users to navigate your site.

What’s are the best practices for this?

Categories

  1. Go broad. If you write about recipes on your blog, maybe you have Asian, Cajun, American, etc. as your categories. Think about this as a menu. It provides users a way to dig deeper into your content, your expertise.
  2. Stick with it. It’s tempting to change your categories, and certainly you’ll need to make adjustments now and then, but try to keep most of the original structure in tact. It will help focus your blog more than anything.
  3. Set Limits. Create a category structure that has a total of five, plus or minus two – a common best practice when it comes to menu structures and information architecture.

Tags

  1. Make it fit. Use your tags as a way to lead users even deeper into your categories and site. If we stick with the recipes example from above, your tags might be ingredients of dishes, pairing nicely with the types of cuisine that represent each category.
  2. Limitless. Well, almost. I try to build rich, deep tagging systems by adding one to three tags to each post. Always use tags multiple times as you write new posts, so you don’t have a ton of orphaned tags.
  3. Adjust when necessary. With tags, unlike categories, I’m never afraid of tweaking the tag names, connections and the like.

How do you manage your categories and tags? What works best for you?

Image courtesy of Ambrozjo.