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30 Days to a Better Blog: Consider Your Categories

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Consider Your Categories

As part of our 30 Days to a Better Blog series you should now have great posts and pages on your blog – and we want your readers to find them, even months in the future. It’s time to consider your categories and navigation.

In the “olden” days of blogging, categories were the main source of navigation through a blog. They were typically located in the sidebar, and a blog could have 50+ categories if it desired! But with newer themes and layouts, many blogs are moving to a top level navigation – and you can create menus and sub-menus within your category structure.

I’ve done several category reorganizations and I know it’s a daunting and time-consuming task. But ultimately, your categories serve as the main navigation and overall structure to your site. A reader should be able to look at your menu and know exactly what they’ll find.

So, carve out some time, take a look at your existing categories, and consider implementing the following (I prefer doing this in excel for easy visualization):

  • Choose 15 (preferably 10 if possible) top level “parent” categories. If you move to a horizontal top navigation, you want to keep your parent categories in a single line. You may have to create new categories, or rename others – but these should encompass the main post topics that you cover.
  • Under each of these you can now place your remaining categories as sub-categories or “child” categories. You can incorporate a drop-down navigation that will display these when someone mouses over your parent categories.
  • If something doesn’t fit into this new structure, take a minute to analyze why. Is it a category that you’re not really using? Is it a rogue topic not covered by your blog and needs to go? Does it need to be a parent category over something else?
  • Have a couple of people glance at your new category structure. Does it make sense to them? Do the sub-categories fall where they’d expect to see them?

Once you’ve finalized your new category hierarchy, it’s time to implement it!

Quick Notes:

  • To avoid SEO meltdown, do NOT edit your category slug if you rename it.
  • If you delete a category, any posts only assigned to that category will now be assigned to your default. You will want to edit those posts and reassign them correctly.

Read Alli’s rethinking the structure of your blog.

Image Source: SXC

What’s the Difference Between Tags & Categories?

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You’re writing your blog post and getting ready to upload it. Then all of a sudden you have to assign it to a category. And a tag. So what’s the difference?

WordPress used to only offer a Category option. It was a way to assign your post to a group, that could then be sorted and helped navigation across your blog. You could have parent categories and child categories for drilling down. As you can imagine, depending on your blog topic, the category structure could get very lengthy and out of hand.

So then tags were implemented. Instead of choosing from your category list, you write your tags out (separated by commas). Tags can be a stream of words or phrases and are not limited by your category or theme design. But in order to work, they need to be consistent. The point of a tag is to literally “tag” your post with some keywords/phrases so that a user can navigate to other posts that are tagged in a similar fashion.

Tags and categories are very similar. They both create pages of posts on your site. They can have long or short names depending on your blog design. They both are used for organization and cross-linking within your blog. But there are a few differences as well:

  • Every blog post HAS to be assigned a category. It does not need to be assigned a tag. That’s a requirement of WordPress. Even if your post is “Uncategorized” – that is still a category.
  • Categories are a hierarchical structure. Tags are not.

Depending on how a blogger uses categories and tags, there can be other differences as well. Some blog pros say that you should only assign your post to one category, and then use tags to further define the post (I disagree). Others feel that you can use a tag once across the blog, because its use is to only further define your post (I disagree).

No matter what your method is for categorizing your posts, my suggestion is to stay consistent and hotlink your keywords frequently. Whether you link your words/phrases to a tag or a category, is your decision!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Thanks to Wordle.net

What's the Difference Between Tags & Categories?

Author:

You’re writing your blog post and getting ready to upload it. Then all of a sudden you have to assign it to a category. And a tag. So what’s the difference?

WordPress used to only offer a Category option. It was a way to assign your post to a group, that could then be sorted and helped navigation across your blog. You could have parent categories and child categories for drilling down. As you can imagine, depending on your blog topic, the category structure could get very lengthy and out of hand.

So then tags were implemented. Instead of choosing from your category list, you write your tags out (separated by commas). Tags can be a stream of words or phrases and are not limited by your category or theme design. But in order to work, they need to be consistent. The point of a tag is to literally “tag” your post with some keywords/phrases so that a user can navigate to other posts that are tagged in a similar fashion.

Tags and categories are very similar. They both create pages of posts on your site. They can have long or short names depending on your blog design. They both are used for organization and cross-linking within your blog. But there are a few differences as well:

  • Every blog post HAS to be assigned a category. It does not need to be assigned a tag. That’s a requirement of WordPress. Even if your post is “Uncategorized” – that is still a category.
  • Categories are a hierarchical structure. Tags are not.

Depending on how a blogger uses categories and tags, there can be other differences as well. Some blog pros say that you should only assign your post to one category, and then use tags to further define the post (I disagree). Others feel that you can use a tag once across the blog, because its use is to only further define your post (I disagree).

No matter what your method is for categorizing your posts, my suggestion is to stay consistent and hotlink your keywords frequently. Whether you link your words/phrases to a tag or a category, is your decision!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Thanks to Wordle.net

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