If you’re using blogging as part of your marketing strategy, you’re no doubt spending a lot of time creating valuable, high quality content. As your website develops and the number of blog posts grows, some of this quality content will be pushed to the background.  With an easy-to-follow system to organise your blog, you can make it easier for your visitors to browse your content, thereby increasing the shelf-life of your blog posts.

This is where your blog’s Categories and Tags (also known as taxonomies) come into their own.

Having good, clear, relevant categories increases your website’s usability for your visitors, keeping people browsing longer (which is good for SEO and leads to increased conversions).  Plus, the more people read and engage with your content, the more it increases their trust in you as an authority on your topic.

Categories and tags are also important for your website’s SEO, playing a part in letting search engines know what your website is all about and directing searchers to your content.

How Do Categories Work?

Categories are broad groupings of posts under specific topics – like a table of contents for your blog.  They sort your blog content, allowing your visitors to browse by topic rather than chronologically.

Most content management systems enable you to allocate your posts to categories, grouping them together under similar subjects. When these categories are used in your website’s navigation system, visitors can go directly to the content/topic that most interests them, rather than having to scroll through endless posts.  It also means that if they read and enjoy your latest post, they can easily find more posts with the same topic by visiting that post’s category.

Setting Up Your Categories

Look through the range of content you’re offering, then brainstorm a list of topics or “buckets” of topics that you cover.  Group the topics together in a way that you believe your website visitors would consume your content. Your category names should represent a keyword or phrase that your audience is likely to search for.

When you have a list of categories, set them up in your blog CMS. The following instructions are for WordPress users, however each CMS offers its own way to categorise posts.

Go to your Dashboard and click on Posts then Categories.

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Setting Up WordPress Categories

Create the Name for your Category (1).  The “slug” (2) is the URL-friendly version of the name and, depending how you set up your Permalinks in your website, can appear in the blog post’s URL.

If the category you’re creating is a sub-category of another, top level topic, make the top level category the parent (3).

You can add a Description of the category (4) which may appear on the archive pages that hold all posts under that category.

Click Add New Category (5).

You can also create a new category from within a Blog Post itself.

Adding a Category within a blog post.

Hints

  • As tempting as it is, don’t create too many categories as it will make your system unwieldy and difficult to use. Use a limited number of categories (7 – 10) as your broad subject headings, and fine tuning with tags.
  • Categories are hierarchial, so you can create top level categories and sub categories if you wish. This will let people narrow down their search.
  • Give your categories easy to understand names – category names that are too quirky or clever may not be understood by your visitors.
  • When naming and grouping your categories, consider how your target audience would search your content – focus on the words and phrases they would use and the topics they would look for.
  • Don’t allocate your posts to more than a couple of categories. If the same post appears in several categories it reduces the effectiveness of categories as an organisation system.
  • In WordPress every post must be categorised, so if you do not choose a category, it is allocated to the “Uncategorised” category.

Examples of Categories In Use:

A personal stylist might set up their categories as follows:

  • Occasion
    • Corporate
    • Casual
    • Formal
  • Seasonal
    • Spring
    • Summer
    • Autumn
    • Winter
  • Style Tips
  • Wardrobe Staples

A photographer could use the following categories:

  • Families
  • Couples
  • Weddings
  • Corporate
  • Landcape

How Do Tags Work?

If categories are like the table of contents for your blog, tags are like the index. Using tags, you can indicate the key topics / ideas covered in a blog post.

Tags are set up in a similar way to categories. On the left hand navigation, go to Posts and click on Tags.

Setting up Tags in WordPress

Setting up tags in WordPress

Create a name for the tags and Click Add Tag.

You can also add tags from within the blog post (find the Tags box on the right hand wide when you’re adding or editing your post).

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Hints

  • Do not have duplicate keywords or phrases in categories and tags i.e. if Marketing is a category, do not have a tag called marketing. This will impact the usability and SEO benefits of these taxonomies.
  • Do not go crazy with tags. They are meant to help you sort your content and make it easy for users to browse related topics.

Action:  Review your categories and tags on your website to determine if they are working for your website visitors to make their experience easier. If not, create a new system of categories and tags.

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