Categories & Tags: Advice for New Bloggers

The WordPress Discover prompt for today is BELOW.

If you look BELOW every WordPress post, you’ll see a list of words: the categories and tags the blogger has chosen to describe the subject matter of their post. WordPress allows us to use up to fifteen of these on each post, so choose them wisely. WordPress says these multi-tagged posts will automatically be sent to SPAM.

Some bloggers seem to think “the more the better” and plaster oodles of tags on their posts — a lot of them worthless for actually finding the post. This is like coming to a beach party in tux and tails, gold cuff-links and a flashy silk tie. Too much is overkill. Go home and change.

USING CATEGORIES AND TAGS EFFECTIVELY

Back when WordPress had their First Friday feature, I’d drop in now and then to meet and greet some new bloggers. Since they were learning the ropes and open to a little guidance, I often left this advice about categories and tags. I’ll publish it here in case some new bloggers are reading this; maybe some long-time bloggers who haven’t bothered much with C’s & T’s can benefit, too.

The purpose of Categories and Tags is two-fold:
— Primarily, they help other people to find your posts
— Secondly, they become, over time, your blog’s filing system

When it comes to choosing those fifteen C’s & T’s, my first question is:
When was the last time you searched cyberspace for “MY AUNT?” Or “NOTES”? Or PETER?

Next:
Does anyone else in the world care about MY AUNT or my NOTES or some generic PETER? You might get posts about some famous performer, or the Apostle Peter, but otherwise…

Categories & Tags are very useful creatures. New bloggers can create them when they publish each post, using the sidebar on the right. For those of us who’ve been around the block a few times, we already have a list to pick from, and can add others.

Tagging our posts is how we invite other bloggers to check out what we’ve written. For example, if I add an ARTICLE or EDUCATION tag for my post, it will send my post title and a couple of lines to the Reader. Other bloggers searching for posts on Articles or Education will see mine listed and hopefully come and read what I’ve written.

C’s & T’s & TITLES: Working Together

Choose clear, catchy post titles. Are you going to be interested in a post titled “AUNT LINDA’S IDEA ABOUT WHAT HER FRIEND NEEDS” and goes on to say: “Yesterday my Aunt Linda stopped in for a brief visit and she said we should check up on…”?

But if a parent sees a title like “WORKABLE IDEAS FOR HOME-SCHOOLING” and the opening line reads, “It’s a real challenge for parents who find themselves with several children to teach at home, but I’ve found a few things that may help…” they’ll very likely want to read more.

BLOG’S LONG-TERM FILING SYSTEM

Some bloggers use C’s and T’s; some may use only one or the other. It’s up to you. Both go to the Reader. However, categories and tags also become, over time, your blog’s filing system. I wish I’d understood better how they work when I started blogging. In fact, after a few years I started a brand new site and slowly reposted all my writing so I could use suitable categories and tags for each item.

I use CATEGORIES as the drawers of my “filing cabinet.” The C’s you see in the Menu below my Header, like Poetry, Fiction, Books. My tags are like files within the drawer. Under Poetry you’ll see tags like: Nature, Seasons, Home, Inspiration, etc. Under the Fiction category you’ll find tags like Stories, Children, Family, etc

Among the Widgets there is one bloggers can install that puts a list of Categories on your blog’s front page, or you can create a visible Menu of them as I’ve done. Or you can display them in your sidebar. Another option is to install the widget that gives you a Tag Cloud. You can choose how many tags will display.

To each his own, but in my opinion it’s better to limit the number displayed, or choose “Display as a drop-down list,” rather than having a list of seventy-five tags running down the Home Page sidebar. Generally speaking, try to make things as simple as possible for your visitors. I’ve stopped to have a look at some sites, but they were so cluttered I just left again.

Be selective when choosing C’s & T’s. Pick something pertinent to your post, topics people are actually going to be looking for. “Aunt Sue” may be an intriguing person, but not a very compelling tag for someone who doesn’t even know who YOU are. Ditto with Flowers or My trip. Titling your post Cheap Vacation Spots and tagging it Travel, Adventure, River rafting, Timbuktu adventure would be far more apt to draw visitors than simply Vacation. The specific English language tag will draw readers more than the general Grammar. Here’s a good place to go for more ideas on what C’s and T’s to use: https://wordpress.com/tags

UNCATEGORIZED IS A SHAMBLES

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is SHAMBLES, and this describes the hodge-podge that goes into Uncategorized. Uncategorized is the default setting that comes with every new blog. It tells no one anything about your post.

I consider this the waste of a perfectly good tag. Like dropping a luscious ice cream cone in a puddle. My advice: get rid of it.

A blogger can change their default by going to the left hand sidebar and selecting Settings. Next you see a screen where, across the center at top are four words: General, Writing, Discussion, Traffic. Click on Writing

The first line under writing is for Categories. You’ll see how many you have and what the Default is. Click on the arrow at right. Now you get to add more categories and also change the default to something that better suits your blog’s general theme. If there’s a Save Changes button somewhere on the screen, hit it. You should be good to go.

I’ve chosen Reflections as my default, because most of my posts are of a reflective nature. If you’re a poet, choose POETRY. If you like giving your thoughts on this and that, choose OPINIONS. If your choice doesn’t suit a particular post, you can click the check mark on the Default to take it off that particular post.

And now I shall choose for this post as many pertinent categories and tags as possible, and hit publish. 🙂

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