While all of my type-A bloggers will likely use tags and categories as a way to organize their posts into neat online boxes, they are much more important than just keeping posts organized on your blog! When you publish a post, your followers will see it hit the Reader or be notified via email. New readers rely on your efficient use of tags and categories to find your blog! Tags and categories are searchable so you want to make sure you’re using ones that people can find! They need to be a combination of general and specific terms so they can leave digital breadcrumbs back to your post. Less is more when it comes to tags and categories so I suggest you use them wisely. You can only use a combination of no more than 15 tags/categories on the WordPress platform otherwise your post looks like spam and isn’t easily visible to others.
Tags and categories are pretty much the same thing. The difference is that categories are like files and tags are like stickers. If you find yourself using or wanting to use the same word to organize your post, you probably want to make it a category. For example, I have a 5-day blogging schedule. So I have a category called “Weekly Theme Post” which is the main file for my posts. That’s not something that’s going to get my post discovered because who else is using that to search by? But if I want to easily find something I can use that category and more importantly that’s the parent category for each of the 5 topics. So Mondays I post motivational quotes, my categories are then “Monday Motivation”.
The tags I use will vary from week to week depending on the content of the specific post. I generally use tags like “motivation”, “motivational quote”, and “inspiration”. If it’s a quote by Oprah I’ll use tags like “Oprah” “Oprah Winfrey” “wisdom” etc. If it’s a post about success, I’ll use tags like “success”, “results”, “work”, etc. Once you’ve used a tag, it will be shown in the box when you start typing. Tags are the stickers that I use to summarize what the post is about. You want these to be specific enough to where people know what the post is about and are looking for them but not so specific no one will search by them.
If you’re a lifestyle blogger, you might want to use a category called “Reviews” and then have subcategories such as “makeup”, “products”, “hair care”, etc. You’d also want to use tags such as the product brand and product type. If you review an event you attend you’d want to use tags such as the name of the event, and the location. That way when people search by those terms, your post will appear in the search results.
Another reason you want to use a combination of general and specific terms is because depending on the popularity of the tag or category your post might get buried in the results. Posts are shown in the Reader in the order they are published with the newest being on top. That means if you only use a couple of categories that are very popular, your post will get pushed down the Reader in a matter of seconds. On the flip side, if you use a category or tag that no one uses, it might be at the top for months but if no one is searching by it, it doesn’t do you any good. So try to use a mix of tags and categories to ensure your post is getting seen with a variety of search terms.
If you don’t know what tags to use, start by thinking of what you would look for to find the kind of post you’re publishing. Then start paying attention to the tags and categories other bloggers are using. If a blogger’s categories are visible at the bottom of the post, make a note! You might not use that specific category but the more you pay attention, the more you’ll get the hang of it and be able to use them more efficiently. The other thing I recommend is using WordPress hot tags. You are only going to want to use a handful because if all 15 of your tags and categories come from this list, you probably won’t get discovered by many readers. That page shows the most popular tags in real time. The bigger the tag the more popular it is. The more popular it is, the less time your post will spend at the top of the Reader for that tag. So make sure to mix it up!
Remember, it’s not just about the tags you use but also the number of tags! I’ve seen several bloggers use over 30 tags for one post. I understand their train of thought “the more tags I use, the greater the post’s reach and better the chances of it being seen.” The only thing is, it doesn’t work that way. When you use over 15 tags, it actually limits you! WordPress actually suggests using between 5 and 15 tags/categories. Any more than that and you probably aren’t showing up on the Reader when people search a tag you’ve used. So be selective and pragmatic when utilizing tags and categories after all you want people to easily find that post you put so much work into publishing!
Did you learn anything from this post? What did you find most useful? Feel free to share in the comments. If you want to see a post with tips or tutorials I haven’t covered yet, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help you!