When I first began blogging, I tagged everything. I would write my post and then choose 5 or 10 tags based on what I’d written. If I mentioned Richard Branson in a post on marketing, my list of tags may look like this:
Richard, Branson, #RichardBranson, Richard Branson, Virgin, Records, British, Sir Richard, marketing, ploys, spaceships, sail around the world, eccentric billionaires, secret crushes…
And on and on. Well, having a million categories and a billion tags is a superbly ineffective method of categorizing. My main problem was that I knew what tags were and what they were for. It was the application that I didn’t understand.
The Purpose of Tags
Tags serve two purposes and two purposes only: navigation and search ranking. Dress it up, add the word Meta, spew out terms like SEO and you’re still talking about nothing more than navigation and search ranking. As a business owner or digital personality or voice of the community or professional blogger or whatever, you are charged with the responsibility of telling people who you are and what you’re about. Tags help you to fulfill that mission. There is no way for us, as the general public, to narrow down who you are or what your blog is about when you have 100 posts, let’s say, and 1000 tags. Maybe we could fish out some similarities but who has the time?
Digital File Folders
Categories are digital file folders. They give readers an idea of the types of content that can be found in your blog. Well, think of tags as subdivisions of categories. So a sports blogger may have a category called Basketball, and tags separating high school, college, semi-pro, and NBA content. Makes sense, yes?
Brand and Persona
Your blog and subsequently, your tags should be built around your brand. I shudder to use that word as it’s so buzz-worthy these days, but truth is truth. Your brand is not what you do so much as it is how you do it. For instance, a group of Ivies use their brand-name education and connections to launch a high-end social media marketing firm. Well, there are plenty of social media marketers. But how many of them can say they specialize in developing SM strategies for Fortune 100 companies? Very few, I imagine. Your brand helps to set you apart and your blog should support, not foil, that effort.
I am a writer. I work closely with small businesses and solopreneurs. My blogs are not about writing techniques as I don’t really produce content for other writers (‘cept this one time). My blog is about empowerment – personal and professional development. That’s my value as a writer – my right-brain creativity is led by my left-brain understanding of running a small business. My post categories reflect my value proposition. Going further, all of my tags fit neatly within my categories.
Shaping Categories and Tags
Okay, so how do we choose them, #36YearOldSensei? For your categories, start small. Choose 5 to 10 categories based on the purpose and message of your blog. Make them very simple and general. If you’re a baker who specializes in baked goods for special events, you will likely focus on categories like custom cakes, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events. Next, choose 10to 15 tags that you expect to use on a regular basis. The baker may choose words like gluten-free cakes, novelty cakes, cake sculptures, picture cakes… you get the idea.
Now, there will be times when you will add tags to be more specific, but in general, all of your content will be stemming from one place – your brand. Make it a habit to recycle your tags to solidify your brand and build a digital tie between your industry and your blog.
- Tags are for navigating and search ranking.
- Create a blog that supports your brand; categories and tags that support your blog.
- Categories are digital file folders. Tags are the sub-folders.
- Choose 10 categories to start out and 15 tags that fit within those brand-building categories.
That’s the skinny of tagging with purpose. How have you designated, and maybe even had to refine, your categories and tags? Any tips for newbies?