I keep a running list of things I want to do for my blog “at some point,” which actually means “on the 5th of never.” You know, those little things that improve your site but aren’t pressing enough to take care of right this minute. Things that will probably only take you 30 minutes, and once you finish, you wonder why you didn’t do them sooner. I actually started this series last summer for that very reason. I needed to do a little housekeeping — ahem, “blogkeeping” — so I tackled one thing each week and posted about it. Well, friends, the list is piling up again, so this month, let’s do a little (very late) spring cleaning for our blogs!
This week, let’s talk about categories and tags (or labels, if you’re on Blogger). Categories and tags tell readers what your blog is about and help them navigate to related content. But if you’ve been blogging for any length of time, and haven’t gone through your categories and tags in a while, you may not be pointing readers to the content that best represents your blog right now. For example, I had Style and Home listed as categories on my blog for a long time, but I rarely post about those topics any more. I also had a few columns listed as regular features that, again, I rarely post any more. Why would I want to point readers to a topic I’m no longer posting about?
Categories versus Tags
Personally, I’ve always used categories for broader subjects, then tags for columns. But I really like this approach from WPBeginner: Think of your blog as a book, and the categories are your table of contents, while tags are terms in your index. These are tools to help people find information, so don’t go tag-crazy — it’s better to use one tag consistently than create several that say the same thing. Remember, you’re helping people find related content, so don’t create tags for something you only mention once on your site. For your categories, think of what you tell people when they ask what you blog about — those should be your categories! Consider putting your categories in a prominent place, or even using them in your main navigation so people know what your site is about when they first visit.
A note for Blogger users
Treat your labels as you would categories and tags — make sure you have labels for your broader subjects, and create additional labels as needed to help people find related content. I’ve seen a number of Blogger to WordPress migrations where the blogger had to go back and categorize posts because they didn’t add consistent, broader subject labels to their posts. If you are consistent with your labels in Blogger, it’s easy to convert the broader subjects to categories in WordPress.
How to organize your posts
Look at the big picture
Write down everything you’ve talked about in the last 2-3 months. If you’re on WordPress, I highly recommend the Editorial Calendar plugin — not only will it help you schedule future posts in a calendar format, it will also show you past posts on the day they appeared. Do the categories displayed on your site match up with the categories you’ve been talking about lately? Do you need to add new categories, or combine old ones? What do you tell people your blog is about — are those topics represented in your categories?
Sort through your tags
Remember that the goal here is to help people find related information, in a manner that’s a bit more specific than your broader categories. Don’t be so specific that only one post will fit under that tag. Take a look at your analytics — what are people searching for, and what types of posts are most popular? Make it easy for people to find more of those posts.
Organize your most recent posts
Blogs grow and evolve over time — don’t feel like you have to fit all of your old posts into your new categories and tags. The point is to help people find the content you want to be known for, that best represents where you are now. You can always recategorize your older posts later if you think readers would still be interested in those, but focus on organizing your most recent content first.
How do you organize your posts?