Don’t Forget to Add Tags!

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All I want for Christmas is Organized Information!

All I want for Christmas is organized information!

No, this isn’t a Christmas post.  Although it would make sense because that’s about how far behind I am.  This is about those pesky little things in WordPress and other publishing software called “tags”.  They’re easy to ignore, because they aren’t required to publish a post.  But if you aren’t using them, you’re missing a big opportunity for people to find out more information about your site.

You are more than likely already using categories to keep your posts organized, and that’s good.  But if you are only using categories, you’ll either end up with a ton of categories with accurate (and super boring) names,  or you’ll have cool and funny category names that don’t tell anyone anything about the posts.  As for me, I prefer category names that are fun or specific to the site, and I use tags as precise keywords that accurately describe the post.

Why not do it the other way around?  There’s one really good reason…sites like Technorati that collect information about blogs and websites use tags to help them organize the information about these sites.  And when you write a new post and ping these sites (make sure you are pinging these update services), they come scoop up all the tag information.  Technorati then knows which posts on your site are about what. Here’s a practical example that relates to news:

Let’s say you run a news site that concentrates on entertainment news.  You may set up a few different categories that draw people’s attention like “Bump Watch” (celebrity pregnancy), “No She Didn’t!” (scandal), and “On the Small Screen” (television).  See how those categories are much more interesting?  You can then use tags in each post to describe the keywords that are relevant to that post.  It makes more sense to use the tag “Britney Spears” in posts under each of these categories than it does to have a whole category for Britney Spears.  If you did, you’d constantly be adding categories for countless celebrities, some of which you may only write about one time.

You can use tags yourself as well.  If you’ve composed at least a few dozen posts and tagged them as you’ve gone, you can use things like tag clouds to give your visitors an idea of what your site is about at a glance.  Another use would be a “Related Post” plugin like we use on this site.  This little piece of code uses the tags and other information about your posts  to search through your post database and find posts that may interest your reader.

It only takes a couple of seconds to tag up a post, but there are huge benefits because they provide you and others with information about your site.  The larger your site becomes, the more you’ll appreciate and use the information you’ve collected about it along the way.

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4 Comments

  1. Finn said January 2, 2009 | Permalink

    THANK YOU for explaining this! I have been confused as to the difference in categories and tags and why I should bother. This helped immensely.

  2. Dave Barnes said January 2, 2009 | Permalink

    But, you own tags for THIS page are not very good.

    Google really pays attention to the title tag and displays the first 66 characters.
    Your title tag: “Use Tags in Each Post! | NewsTechZilla” only uses 38 characters, so you just wasted 28.
    A better tag would be: Don’t Forget to Add Tags to All Your Posts! | NewsTechZilla

    Google analyzes the description tag and displays the first 150 characters as the 2-line snippet below the title tag in the SERP.
    Your description tag: “A few good reasons to use tags in your posts religiously” is too short and should follow right after the title tag.
    A better description tag is: It only takes a couple of seconds to tag up a post, but there are huge benefits because they provide you and others (Google) with information about your site.

    Google does not look at the keywords tag today, but you never know about the future.
    Intra-website search functions typically do look at keyword tags.
    The current rule-of-thumb is: 8 words/phrases, 200 characters, in descending order of importance.
    Your keywords tag: “blogging,tags,technorati,wordpress” is way too short.
    Better would be: tags, meta tags, SEO, search engine optimization, rankings, technorati

  3. newscoma said January 2, 2009 | Permalink

    Thanks Dave. That’s why we need comments like this to help us all. Great feedback and thanks for the feedback.

  4. sadcox said January 2, 2009 | Permalink

    Absolutely awesome comment Dave! These are some great tips in condensed form. I’m not an SEO pro by any stretch (and don’t claim to be) so input like this is VERY valuable…thanks!!!!

    I was only discussing tags for info organization here, but now I’ve got another post I can write about tags and SEO. I may actually get in touch with you about doing a guest post…thanks again!

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