Before you can publish your first blog post, you have to assign a category and tags to it. Categories and tags are often confused for one another and many bloggers don’t use them effectively. It’s easy to categorize your posts when you understand some basics:
Although you can use categories and tags interchangeably… and some bloggers do… they actually serve different functions. I like to think of them this way:
Categories are for your human visitors.
Tags are for search engines.
Categories are Like a Table of Contents in a Book
Think of categories like the headings in a traditional Table of Contents from a book: these describe the bigger concepts to be found in the article. Therefore, each post should be put in 1-3 categories, no more. If a post feels like it should be in more than 3 categories, your post is likely too long and complicated. Use this as a sign that your post should either be re-written, or cut into multiple posts.
Your categories may get complicated; to make them easier for your visitor to follow, create parent and child relationships between your categories. For example, on this site, I have the main category of Social Media, with sub-categories for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Tags, are actually key words and phrases that appear in your article (your key words).
Tags should NOT encompass all of the nouns or concepts that appear in your article, but rather the main words and short phrases that someone would search the Internet for.
Avoid using too many tags
You never want to use more than 5 tags per post; Using too many tags/key words will actually get your site de-listed as this is called “keyword stuffing” and is looked down on by the gods at the search engines. Generally only the first 1-3 will actually be used by the search engines, so make sure you lead with the ones that really matter.
An Example of Tags and Categories
Here’s an example of Tags and Categories from one of my clients. She helps people become better public speakers. So, the categories for her site might look like this:
Public Speaking Training
-Finding your Voice
-Fear of Public Speaking
While some tags that might apply to her posts would be: public speaking, public speaking fear, stuttering, and stage presence.
When you organize your posts into the correct Categories and Tags, you make it easy for someone to find what they are looking for. It also it makes it easy for you to know where to classify your post when you publish it.