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Blogging Tips: Tag to Increase Traffic

Updated March 2013
Blogs are all about posts. Posts can have categories and tags assigned to them; static Pages can’t. Every post ought to be assigned to relevant broad Categories and should have very specific Tags. Each Category and Tag is a one or two word key word descriptor of the content in your post.  Categories and Tags provide a means for your posts to be sorted and made available to visitors to your on site (clouds, widget displays, lists), and also make them available to those who have yet to visit.

Potential readers use search engines and when posts are properly constructed and relevant Categories and Tags are accurately assigned to them, they are indexed by search engines and appear in the SERPS (search engine results pages). That means they can be readily located by targeted readers who click through to the posts in question.

Why You Should Tag Your Posts

Search engines detect and use key word descriptor tags when indexing your pages and each tag has a unique descriptive key word term permalink that distributes your pages over the search engines. Use of accurate Categories and Tags  helps potential readers doing key word searches locate relevant content in search results, and increases the odds your content will be found by new readers.

Categories and Tags: An Analogy

Tags and Categories are keyword terms  used to describe index,  locate and retrieve information. Search engines “see” tags and categories as being the same thing and treat them the same way. However when I am asked about assigning  Categories and  Tags to a post I invoke an analogy.

Categories are like the chapter titles on a Table of Contents of a book. Tags are like the index terms that are found in the back pages of a book. Both are based on key word descriptions that naturally occur in any written language.

Whenever you  get confused about categories and tags  imagine they are in a library looking for a book on a specific topic. Then, I ask yourself this:  Which key words would I use to find book on that topic in a library catalog?

If you change the word “book” to “blog” you will know how to find a blog on any specific topic by typing keywords into a search engine and getting back the results. If you change the word “blog” to “post” and imagine which descriptive key word terms a potential reader might use to look for a post like yours that may help you assign categories and tags more effectively.

Using Categories and Tags Effectively

Select the most relevant keywords that you think other people would type into a search engine and find your blog with. Think  in terms of  from “broad” (Categories)  and  “narrow” (Tags).  Know also that “less is more”.  The aim is to use the least number of relevant key word descriptor terms as  possible to accurately describe the contents of any post,  and more than a combined total 10 categories and tags on any post is moving towards spamdexing.

Example: Suppose I have a marine mammals of the world blog and I publish my monthly podcasts in posts. The broad Categories would be key word descriptors like “Marine Mammals,” Monthly Podcasts” and the names of the oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian, Southern).

The descriptive key word Tags would differentiate individual posts according to their specific subject matter. One might be tagged “dolphins” another may be tagged “sea lions”, etc. The Tags may also reflect the specific geographical area and/or other unique specific subject matter in the podcast posts.

Blog Post title: The Effects of Polar Bear Predation on Seal Populations in Bering Strait.

Categories: Arctic Ocean, Marine Mammals, Monthly Podcasts

Tags: Bering Strait, feeding, predation, polar bears, seals, population Global Tag Pages

The global tagging pages send traffic to our blogs. How much it delivers to any given blog varies from blog to blog.  When one moves to self hosting a WordPress. org blog they and their blog are no longer part of the community. That means their posts no longer appear under the categories and tags found on the global tagging pages.

Tips from  support documentation

If you cannot find a newly published post in the global tag listings for the tag and categories you used, there are several possible explanations.

Google’s Matt Cutts | How to Get Better Visibility on Google

Related posts found in this blog:
Content: How to tag and categorize it
WordPress Blogging Tips: Categories and Tags don’t be a spamdexer

29 thoughts on “Blogging Tips: Tag to Increase Traffic

  1. You are SO spot-on with your info! I find myself going back to posts I may have skipped because the week got busy. That way, I don’t miss a thing! The library analogy really cleared up the Category/Tag distinction as many have noted. I’m just adding one voice to a chorus of thanks, but you absolutely deserve it! :-)

    • Hi Kerwyn,
      Though analogies are not always a perfect way to describe anything meaningfully, I’m happy that my library analogy was useful.

      P.S. You may find it amusing to know that I am a librarian and a paralegal. I worked primarily in law libraries where I was a cataloger :)

  2. Many thanks for this. I have been scratching around for a single article that spells out the relationship between Categories and Tags clearly. The book analogy finally did it for me.

    Now for the hard work going back over my blog and clearing up the errors. Thanks for the help.

    • I’m so glad you found this post to be helpful. So remember the less is more when it comes to assigning catagories and tags and use only those which are relevant and can be found in the text in the post. You’re welcome. :)

  3. I never under estimated the importance of tagging but always get confused while tagging my posts. Actually with bloggers one problem that we really face is to individualized each post. But anyway, this is the most importance step for driving traffic. Thanks for your wonderful post. It has rejuvenated me to work like this way for better exposure of my blog. Thanks a lot timethief.

    • Hello there,
      I’m happy to hear you found value in this post. Do remember that less is more when it comes to tagging. Use on;y the minimim combined total of relevant categories and tags that accurately describe the content in the post.

  4. Thank you for this lesson because Category and Tags were 2 elusive terms that never seemed to click for me. I am going to look more into your other posts on this topic. Thanks!

  5. Very Enlightening ! You have saved me a great deal of wasted time and grief! Thanks for your help in the support forums, and the tips in this entry have given me some extra info! I am off to remove duplication between tags and categories.


  6. What is the best method to create interest and drive traffic to a new blog. Should you post more than once a day?

  7. Thanks for a great article. I had no tags before I read this and when I started using them (and not that many to begin with) I got traffic to my blog the next day. Now I find that people often surf onto my blog via tags and categories. Excellent information, well explained.

  8. As a (very) new blogger with a thirst to know and understand more, I really appreciate the clarity and comprehensiveness of the information you provide. I used to think I was a bit smart before I started digging into the ‘how to’ of blogging – there is so much more jargon and correct practice involved than I anticipated! Your site has come up through a couple of my info searches today (tags, keywords, SEO….); this is all such direct, useful stuff. And thank you for your approachable and personable style. Your site is gem and a breath of online fresh air. So thanks!

  9. Print Your Blog Day:

    I think you should use this article.
    Leave it laying around a public library or a starbucks or something.
    It’s good info!

    I used to do search engine optimization for web pages back in the late 90s right before the .com bust. It was all about meta tags and word counts. And, of course, submitting to search engines. It’s all changed, and yet it’s still the same. The algorithms in use have gotten smarter, and cross linking is now taken into account, but keywords and tags still make a difference. I think they always will. Their weight, on the other hand, will vary depending on the cataloging process.

    • I was late to the party so to speak. Thankfully our library walls and stalls are spam free and there is no Starbucks where I live – in paradise. :)

        • No they won’t. Our community is too small for them to be interested in locating a franchise here. We also have our own local coffee shops who make equally as good coffees if not better (free trade coffee). In addition if they did buy property they would have to get it through a rezoning application – fat chance!

  10. Thanks again Timethief!!! Question: the Google guy mentions Google search results title tags. I don’t have any in Google search results, just the name of my blog. How does one ensure a title tag? Thanks…

  11. Hi timethief!

    This is a more understandable way of distinguishing categories from tags. I now know how to use these features on my blog.

    Just a question: You see, I also use categories as tags in my posts. Is that sensible? Or am I just wasting time and effort in doing so? I try to keep 10 or less tags for every post, but if I include the categories, I go over the limit.

    Your enlightenment would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks very much!


  12. Pingback: Categories + Tags should ≠ 10 « Anne Bingham : making it up as i go

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