Categories and Tags Links Localized

Previously all categories and tags we assigned to our posts redirected to the WordPress.com global tags pages.  Only the links displayed by Tags and Categories widgets directed to content in our own blogs.  There were only a few situations in which posts would be missing from the WordPress.com global tagging pages such as:

  • posts lacking categories or tags;
  • excessive use of categories and tags;
  • misusing the global tag pages;
  • mature (legal adult contents – NSFW) not displayed;
  • posts from private blogs not displayed;
  • Note:  The iNove theme as it has the option of suppressing the display of categories and tags.

On August 18th, Volunteers answering support forum questions discovered that had changed. Categories/Tags on public blogs were no longer linking to the Global tag pages. The links on blog posts were redirecting to the Category/Tags pages within the blogs, rather than to the global tags pages.  A few members were very unhappy when a Staff member clarified that the reversal was not “a bug”.

We are testing some things, so the tags and categories now link to your own blog’s tags and categories. You can still browse popular tags/categories on this page:
http://en.wordpress.com/tags/

And you can search for specific tags to see what blogs appear there, e.g. http://en.wordpress.com/tag/example
jenia
Happiness Engineer
Aug 18, 2011, 8:21 PM

Another long time wordpress.com blogger provided this background in a forum thread:

Here’s why global tags were unpopular with some users and why I’m glad they’ve apparently gone:

1. On wordpress.org blogs (and indeed every other blog software I can think of) tags on posts lead to the archives for this tag, so for most readers coming from outside wordpress.com, being sent to a global tag page outside the blog is unexpected and unwanted behaviour. Since there is no guarantee that the global tag page will even include a link back to the original blog, some people were concerned that they might lose a potential reader this way and not get them back.

2. (and most importantly, to my mind) having the tag links on posts and the tag links in the sidebar go to completely different pages is a violation of accessibility guidelines. The target of a link should be indicated by what the link says. It should not be dependent on where the link is located, whether the link is on a mature blog, whether the link is on a .com blog or a .org blog etc.

Having easy access to global tags from your blog may be handy for you, but it’s a usability nightmare for any readers from outside wordpress.com.
wank
Member
Aug 20, 2011, 9:43 AM

Discussion

I don’t find the localization of WordPress.com Categories and Tags links to be restrictive at all.  I have been here for over five years  and I am aware that many WordPress.com users have requested this change many times over. That’s why I am not surprised that Staff have responded to WordPress.com user requests.

Were you surprised by the change?

What’s your response to it?

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

36 thoughts on “Categories and Tags Links Localized

  1. Hi Timethief. My job du jour is actually to get all the back posts on the commercial blog tagged today, so of course my first task was to look up relevant guidance here in One Cool Site. I am pleased to learn that WP will now keep tag-clicking folks within our own blog – I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t, honestly!

    But this whole discussion reminds me of another problem I have with beloved old WP – How the heck do we keep up with all these changes they make? Recently in searching and reading Forums for help, I have noticed a pattern of users unearthing “problems” only to be told no, it’s a change, or an experiment. Similarly, I often find unexpected changes in my Dashboard and I have to figure out for myself if this is just cosmetic or actually there is some substantive functional change. I subscribed to the WordPress.com News blog, but it seems to focus on new themes and ignore this kind of lower level technical change – experimentation. Much as I love and rely on you and one or two other independent blogs, I wish WP did something themselves to keep us up to date on their experiments and changes. Is there any way to learn about changes before you trip over something by accident? Is there a WP tech blog or something I just havent found yet? Thanks.

    1. Cynthia,
      Some of the newer bloggers objected to the localizing of Tags and Categories but us oldtimers didn’t. For us this long-awaited change is good news.

      As WordPress.com is on continuous roll-out we will always be faced with changes and experiments we did not expect. So finding one’s dashboard or features have changed overnight and remaining calm comes with the territory.

      Staff are continually making changes to the code as they upgrade WordPress versions bit by bit and in a way we are all BETA testers. The new versions of WordPress aren’t made available to WordPress.org users until about a month after they have gone live here at WordPress.com.

      We aren’t going to get notices of changes as sometimes there are 20 code changes made in a day. Some go forward and some are rolled back for improvement but getting prior notice isn’t in the cards. This is the way we roll here at WordPress.com. As I spend so much time answering support forum questions I’m probably more aware of changes and adjustments than others are.

  2. Wow! I’m new to all of this and it seems to me to be so far from what I thought a blog is all about. I only want to share a few ideas and not have to think about tags and categories. How did blogging get to be so technical and bureaucratic?

  3. I got so little traffic from the Global Tag thing that is was statistically insignificant so the effect on my site will not be noticed.

    However from the reaction in the Forum maybe WordPress.COM needs to figure out some way to still have the global tags visible for people that want to search all of WordPress.COM as that is a common request “I want to find related blogs on WordPress.COM”

    1. My experience is the same. The traffic from the global tags pages to my blogs has never been significant. The global tags are still there and our posts are appearing. All that’s required is searching and the format for doing that is provided in support documentation. However, we can tell from answering questions on the forum that those who post there don’t use the search utilities available. If Staff include a link to the relevant docs when folks type in “I want to find related blogs on WordPress.COM” that may be helpful.

  4. I’m fairly pleased this has happened, though also a little annoyed as I was just getting used to tags going out to the global tag page (I hadn’t noticed categories going there, though).

    If I click on a tag on someone’s blog (or my own) I expect it to take me to a page that has posts on the same blog labelled with that tag. I’d always thought that was the whole point of them – to give readers another way to navigate a blog and to most easily find topics of interest.

    If this is staying, then I may well stop using one or the other, though which is more useful, I’ve no idea.

    1. I’m pleased because I always thought the links ought to be local. But I know what you mean by having mixed feelings, as I had become used to the old scheme and I’m resistant to change. lol :D

  5. I was initially skeptical about the local tags. I think that I had just gotten used to the way WP had the tags set to global. I do agree that one gets very little traffic from global tags. Now, my understanding of categories and tags had grown somewhat so that I’m now pleased with this change and hope that it will not be temporary. Also, there is such a wide variation and depth to blog posts under a specific global tag that I begun to wonder the effectiveness of global tagging. I do want a way to find really good blogs on WP, though. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for chiming in and sharing yiur experience and opinion re: this change.

      Also, there is such a wide variation and depth to blog posts under a specific global tag that I begun to wonder the effectiveness of global tagging

      I agree with you. In regard to locating similar blogs our posts are still appearing on the global tag pages. We can search those pages as we have always done and we can also us the Tag Surfer as well. http://en.support.wordpress.com/tag-surfer/

  6. Hey timethief. I’m really glad they did this, too. I like to use categories to classify posts, which lets people interested in one particular thing see all the posts related to that.

    The tags, however, I still wish were going to the global page, because those are mostly specific to the post, and tend to draw people in. They’re still good for SEO, though. :-)

    1. My experience which exceeds ftve years is that the global tag pages bring every little traffic to my blogs. The links to our posts still appear on the glocal tags pages as they did before. All that has changed is that the Categories and Tags links appearing either above, below, or beside our posts, depending on the theme we use on our sites, are now directing to our own content.

  7. Hi There Dave,
    I also agree with what Wank stated. It’s not clear whether this “testing” will lead to a permanent change or if it’s temporary so we will have to wait and see what the future holds. I wonder how many others were using the iNove theme simply because they could suppress the display of Categories and Tags on their posts, and keep visitors on their own site.

    1. Yeah, although for complete suppression, one has to have the CSS upgrade in order to block the breadcrumb category link on post pages (a display:none for #postpath). I’ve let that display again for the nonce, and wow is it a usability improvement! Now readers of an individual poem or story can see at a glance what issue it’s from, and browse the rest if they wish. Sure hope the change is permanent.

  8. Everybody seems to consider tags and categories as a way of navigation or presenting part of articles.

    But I, and I believe most ppl, never use breadcrumbs, tags, categories, menus, etc. for deciding and finding what to read. They use searching (search engines, google).

    And in my blog I hide tags and categories but still attribute them them under the hood in a hope to be searched by certain keywords. Though, I’ve hidden them recently and cannot clearly understand what is their impact on searches and how to better manage them.

    1)
    If I hide tags and categories, will it stop search engines from indexing my article by them?

    2)
    if I provide tags “SEO” and “analytics” will my articles be in search results by “SEO Analytics”, or I should provide also tag “SEO Analytics”?
    Earlier I could clearly see quite a different impact on search-ability and visibility from providing tags “anti spam”, “antispam” and “anti-spam” and preferred to provide them all, if I needed

    Was I wrong?

    3)
    Are categories have the same impact on searches as tags, that is if I have tag “mobile” then I do not need to clutter my article by category with the same name “mobile”, and vice versa
    Is it correct?
    3a)
    Where should I better put a keyword, in a tag or in a category for better indexing by it?

    4)
    If I initially published an article under the wrong category and it seems to be persistently searched under completely unrelated term.
    How can I tell the search engines to remove the attribution of that keyword? to re-index an article?.

    5)
    I have more question but can you advise me resources telling about categories vs. tags from POV of external searching but not just for managing articles locally
    5a)
    Now, how is the change from your article influence EXTERNAL search-ability?

    Sorry, if I did not read all available help and discussions b4 asking this

    1. Everybody seems to consider tags and categories as a way of navigation or presenting part of articles. But I, and I believe most ppl, never use breadcrumbs, tags, categories, menus, etc. for deciding and finding what to read. They use searching (search engines, google).

      I disagree with you. Keywords naturally occur in the flow of the text no matter which language we blog in. I don’t inject them into my text and I don’t use keyword density checkers. I’m not into search engine gaming at all and have a dim view of those who are into keyword stuffing. I use search engines and research first. I write only after I have read everything I can find on the subject I am writing on. Of course I use keywords in anything I write as anchor text to related articles found both on other sites and on earlier articles I have published. In that sense they are navigational aids to references for my for readers.

      1) If I hide tags and categories, will it stop search engines from indexing my article by them?

      The only ways we had to “hide” them from readers on WordPress.com free hosted blogs are by having a private blog, password protecting posts, using the INove theme, or through CSS editing. Using the Inove theme simply suppressed the display to readers not to search engines. See what Dave Bonta has said here in comments:

      Dave Bonta: Yeah for complete suppression, one has to have the CSS upgrade in order to block the breadcrumb category link on post pages (a display:none for #postpath).

      2) if I provide tags “SEO” and “analytics” will my articles be in search results by “SEO Analytics”, or I should provide also tag “SEO Analytics”? Earlier I could clearly see quite a different impact on search-ability and visibility from providing tags “anti spam”, “antispam” and “anti-spam” and preferred to provide them all, if I needed. Was I wrong?

      Your choices are your own but my observation is that many beginners tend to assign too many Categories and Tags. They seem to think that the more they use the better. In fact less is more ie. the fewer and more relevant Categories and Tags you use will provide better results.

      3) Are categories have the same impact on searches as tags, that is if I have tag “mobile” then I do not need to clutter my article by category with the same name “mobile”, and vice versa. Is it correct?

      Duplicating Categories and Tags is not the way to go as search engines treat both in the same manner. Duplication also leads to reader confusion.

      3a) Where should I better put a keyword, in a tag or in a category for better indexing by it?

      If the keyword or keyword phrase is not found in the title, sub-titles and within the natural flow of the text then using them as Categories and Tags is unsubstantiated and misleading. We are aiming for relevance and assigning any Categories and Tags that do not appear in the article as key words is misleading, and appears to search engine spiders as attempting to play SEO games aimed at gaming search engines results.

      4) If I initially published an article under the wrong category and it seems to be persistently searched under completely unrelated term. How can I tell the search engines to remove the attribution of that keyword? to re-index an article?

      Edit the post and change the Categories and Tags as appropriate. Every time we do that the search engines are automatically pinged and will re-index the article.

      5) I have more question but can you advise me resources telling about categories vs. tags from POV of external searching but not just for managing articles locally. 5a) Now, how is the change from your article influence EXTERNAL search-ability?

      You seem to be dividing local searchability and external searchability in a manner that I don’t. If you are fixated on achieving very high external searchability then subscribe to SEO blogs and learn from the experts. Also note that both Bing and Google provide webmaster tools and documentation so none of this is a mystery. They state what best practices are.

  9. This is huge. I’m surprised and pleased. I’ve felt for some time now that I would rather recommend WordPress.com than an independently hosted WordPress.org site to all the creative writer-types I know who are looking for website or blog solutions, because I just don’t think the average web user is equipped to handle all the hassles that come with self-hosting, but this was the one remaining issue with WP.com (since they provided a paid opt-out for the stealth ads) that prevented me from giving it a whole-hearted endorsement. Wank is spot-on about why the old “tagegory” link behavior sucked.

    At qarrtsiluni, we’ve been using iNove (and blocking the breadcrumb links to categories on post pages) precisely for this reason. I suppose I’ll wait a couple weeks before making any drastic changes, to make sure this new behavior is permanent. Thanks so much for blogging this news.

    1. The only problem with culling either Categories or Tags is creating “404’s”. As the links have been indexed and as Google only clears their cache every 3 to 6 months I’m not inclined to cull any myself.

  10. “I have to say that I consider this good news. If a user is on my site and clicks a tag on an article, I want them to be served additional content on my site. Given my content and focus, that makes the most sense. I can see where in a different context a blogger might want their readers to be served up related content without regard to the source, but don’t most of us want to keep our readers on our pages.”

    Thx for summarizing this the best…for those of too lazy to reread timethief’s article 3-4 times, to clue in. :)

    1. Hi Jean,
      I’m with you. I welcome this change.The former link direction did not make sense to me or to my readers. Clicking a Category or Tag link on my posts and sending a reader out of my blog to the global tag pages was counter-intuitive. The reversal does makes sense as the Category and Tag links now direct to content within my blog so I’m happy with it. I also suspect this change may be a means for Staff to apprehend and eliminate spammers from our blogging community and I’m all for that.

  11. I never understood what was supposed to happen with tags outside of my own WP.com blog.

    I still don’t. Is it that somehow or other the people at Automattic pick up popular blogs and show them by tag? Is that it? How do they judge? Is it by reader numbers? By what appeals to the people at Automattic?

    1. Staff do select which Categories and Tags pages to give special treatment too. They are the most popular Categories and Tags. Staff also select which blogs to feature on the WordPress.com home page under ‘Freshly Pressed”. They have provided this explanation of Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed. As for what appeals most to Staff for selection I can’t help with that because the truth is that I rarely visit the Freshly Pressed page. The few times I have visited I clicked into light weight posts I found I had zero interest in.

  12. I thought it was a positive change. As you say, visitors to wp.com blogs who are used to the behavior of tags on other blogs and other kinds of websites could be surprised and confused to suddenly find themselves on a global tags page outside the site they are visiting. The vast majority of regular visitors to my site are not wp.com users, and I think it’s safe to say that when they are reading one of my posts, they expect to be able to click on a tag that I added to my post and be brought to other posts that I wrote on that topic.

    Many of my tags are completely unique to my blog, and so the global tags page would have nothing but my posts listed, but the look-and-feel was not the same as my blog’s — a minor aesthetic quibble. However, for the ones that aren’t unique to my blog, I do assume that most readers were looking for additional posts from my blog and not interested in being led away to what would seem to them to be a random collection of blogs. I think it became even more jarring once I had my own domain name for users to click one of my tags and end up on the global tags page.

    I always put links to outside sources in my posts, where appropriate, and I have a lot of other places where I have links that lead away from my blog — though I usually have them open in a new tab/window — so I’m not somehow trying to restrict people and “lock them into” my blog, as one person interpreted my appreciation for the new way that tags work. I simply think that this is a logical way for tags to function.

    I could live with the way it was before, though I didn’t really like it, but I’m still glad they changed it to function more like tags on other sites.

    1. @mmfan
      Thanks for chiming in and presenting your POV which I happen to share for the reasons Wank has provided and those contained in your own observations. I did not like the way Categories and Tags links functioned previously ie. illogically. This is an accesibility issue and the change is a logical one that is compliant with web accessibility guidelines. I do like the way they function now ie. logically.

  13. I have to say that I consider this good news. If a user is on my site and clicks a tag on an article, I want them to be served additional content on my site. Given my content and focus, that makes the most sense. I can see where in a different context a blogger might want their readers to be served up related content without regard to the source, but don’t most of us want to keep our readers on our pages? I had actually seriously contemplated de-tagging all of my posts in order to avoid the redirect, but, luckily, I was far too lazy to take that on.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents worth. I certainly see another side to it, but for my purposes this is how it should be, so yay for me!

    And I really enjoyed the links in your article.

    1. Hi Eric,
      I feel the same way and many WordPress.com bloggers have been requesting this change for over 5 years now. That’s why I’m not surprised by the changes. Our posts still appear on the global tag pages just as they did before. All that has changed is the Categories and Tags links in our own blogs direct to content in our own blogs. Those who use the Tag surfer or go directly to the global tag pages are in no way affected by this change. Yet a couple of members have alleged in forum threads that they are inconvenienced by the change. I don’t “buy” their argument. IMO there is no other side of this issue.

      As wank has said:

      2. (and most importantly, to my mind) having the tag links on posts and the tag links in the sidebar go to completely different pages is a violation of accessibility guidelines. The target of a link should be indicated by what the link says. It should not be dependent on where the link is located, whether the link is on a mature blog, whether the link is on a .com blog or a .org blog etc.

    1. Hi there,
      Categories and Tags are single keywords and short (1-2-3) key words phrases we assign to posts so potential readers using search engines can locate our content. We have all used subject indexes in libraries in order to locate books or media on library shelves. Simply apply the same to the cyberworld when creating your posts.

      Categories are for broad topical areas and Tags describe the post in greater detail. The most common mistake new bloggers make is to use far too many Categories and Tags. The rule of thumb is: less is more. In other words, use the minimum number of relevant Categories and Tags that accurately describe the content in the post in question.

  14. Thanks.

    I still can’t quite grasp the difference between tags and categories.
    Categories, with their parent-child relationship, are useless (or hierarchies so difficult to build that they are next to impossible anyway) because there are synonyms and many concepts should have multiple parents (what is not available).

    I would have understood the mixed concept – of categories each of which could have been tagged/labelled with categories.

    I want to write articles with the use of the following (essential to classified, navigated and searched ) terms:
    [Block of text removed by timethief]

    What are categories and what are tags in them? They are inter-connected
    Is CyberCrime child of Crime or of internet or of Law? And Piracy? Where is it enclosed in them?

  15. Oi, I started to blog just a month ago and wanted to look into tags & categories for very long time but delayed, delayed.

    Now I am on it due to Email notification I received to this article!!!

    Though, in first reading, I’d be more happy to see more references on the issue.
    At least, when you cite you should have probably given links to original discussions (instead of copy&pasting texts).

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Thanks for the advice on citations but I don’t need it as I have supplied links to the original threads. Please click the links I did provide.

      1. In the paragraph that begins with “On August 18th …” in the third sentence the phrase “global tags pages” is linked to all the threads in the support forum on the issue. Click it.

      2. With regard to the two people I quoted you will find that the datestamps below their names are linked to the forum threads from whence they came. Click them.

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