Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Bloggers: Using Your Categories And Labels Sparingly

Below Are Suggestions for the New Bloggers on Using Your Categories And Labels Sparingly

When you are starting a new blog, there are many aspects to consider when running a blog.  The first being, what is your end-goal for this blog?  If you don't have an end-goal, but an immediate goal, I suppose that's OK, but with no end-goal in mind, you will be drifting from one format, or blogging practice to another trying to sort things out.  But this is covered in a million other blogs and doesn't need chatting about at this juncture.

But what I do want to address, as food for thought, is when you create posts, to think about the structure of your categories and your labels.

Categories and labels are almost the cornerstone to your blog posts and how visitors and search engine bots crawl your site.

And the one piece of advice that I came across on the web is something that has lasted with me for quite some time... and that's how you approach the structure of your site using categories and labels.

Categories
If you use Blogger, categories is not something you need concern yourself with because it doesn't provide categories, just labels.  But WordPress does use categories (cats) and the advice I've seen here is to be aggressive in miminizing your cats.

Keeping the barest minimum of categories simplifies setting up the overall structure of a blog and how you can point visitors to categories.  Too many categories and the subject matter gets diffused.

On my other site over at Brusimm.com, I've broken things down to a few cats...

'Consumer,' 'Entertainment,' & 'Sports.'

Under 'Entertainment' are the sub categories of 'TV' and 'Movies.'  Under 'Sports' is 'NASCAR' and 'Running.'
 
These are the primary keywords you'd like your content to be known for or at least categorized within.  Once you categorize your article, you will be able to add 'tags' or 'labels' to the individual articles.

And again, minimizing tags/labels also saves your sanity.

Tags and Labels
I end up calling labels tags, so keep in mind I am meaning the same thing.

Here's a quickie example... say you already have a category (on Wordpress) called autos.  When you write about lugnuts, what kind of label do you want for this article?

Lugnuts might be nice.  But they're a part of your wheels.  Which are a part of the suspension.  Which are a part of the chassis.  Which contributes to handling.

If you look at it, that last paragraph alone suggested 5 labels.  And that's just one idea for an article.  When you've finished writing articles about lugnuts, battery cables, spark plugs, car stereos, and so forth, you can end up with dozens of labels.

I'm sure that seems fine, but in my example, if I look at one blog I run with 1500 posts, if you end up with 3 or 4 labels per post, it will get crazy.  And after your 1500th post, you might have a pickle of a time finding the right label for your newest article on car antennas.

Here's the bottom line to remember... categories and labels help your site visitor navigate.  Give your site visitor 1500 navigation options, and you will probably lose them.  Your visitor won't try to decipher the huge amount of options.  They'll move on.

BUT...

If you write a great article about lugnuts, and it is under either chassis or suspension, and your visitors like your work, they will possibly see your few tags and click on one of them to see what else you've written about.  Or, seeing you only have a few tags, they aren't overwhelmed and might even search your site for more info.

You want to look terse and to the point.  If you have a billion tags, you might look scattered or like an over-achiever.  Or an insecure, new blogger.  And that will chase people away.  It would chase me away.


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So What Do You Do?

Keep in mind, cats and tags are just organizational tools like a filing cabinet. 

Also keep in mind that your post title and your article will use the words lugnuts in them.  So it's redundant to try and cat or tag them.  Search engines will see your title about "Tightening Lugnuts too Tight" and you will probably have some words to that affect in your post.  You don't need to tag them all.  The search engines will know this is about lugnuts.

(OMG... I was just looking at my site and just ripped out labels for "9-yr-old" and "letter."  Yeesh, I definitely didn't know what I was doing when I started this site some years ago!  WTH was I thinking?  I'm seeing labels here that are so stupid...  ah, our younger days!)

It's tough to try and figure things out at first, but I'd start as sparingly as possible with your cats, tags/labels and try to keep your structure simple. 

Look around at some other websites that rank well within your realm of chat.  See what they do.  I don't recommend corporations or the top 10 or 20 sites.  They're embedded within the Google system and supported by a huge user community that almost makes them immune to Google no-nos.  So they can do whatever they want.  I've seen some sites bust SEO rules outright without apparent penalty.  You can't afford that.  So look around and choose wisely.

Me?  I'm not the best example.  I started out pretty haphazard and now I'm spending time with some maintenance work and trying to recover.  That's why I know some things don't work!

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Good luck!

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