Blog Search Tip 1: The Importance of Using Proper Labels – Categories


How many times have you gone to someone’s blog and read one of their posts and then wanted to see what else they had written about that topic? I know I do frequently and I’ll bet you do too. And I’m sure that people have come to your blog and thought, “I wonder what else they have written about [fill in the topic]?”.

Well, a way to organize your posts and help people see what else you might have written about the same topic is to use Categories (in WordPress) or Labels (in Google Blogger). These can also be referred to as tags (or folksonomies…). An example of this is, say you wanted to see any posts I’d written about Harry Potter. You can go to my categories and click on “Harry Potter” (notice that it gives the number of posts that are tagged Harry Potter after the tag – this is an optional setting in your categories widget). Then you would go to this page that only contains all my posts that are categorized as “Harry Potter”.

You will probably end up needing to go back and check your categories and clean them up periodically so they are useful to get all posts from a certain topic and to regroup those that only have 1 post in a category. And sometimes you might want to add a category and then add that category to the posts pertaining to it after you find you have written a few more posts about something.

If you look at this blog or my Blogger test blog Along the Path to 2.0, you can see that I have a huge list on the right of my blog of all my labels (for this blog, click the arrow on the right of my categories list to drop down the list). Especially in Blogger, it is important to file under broader categories so you don’t end up with a huge list that only contains 1 post like I did. That is not how categories/labels should be used. They should group a number of like posts, not just 1 post.

When I first stated my blog, I categorized everything by a whole bunch of specific keywords and so my earliest posts don’t have useful categories. As an example, I categorized some posts under “google” and “analytics” where I should have categorized them either as “google analytics” or “blog stats” or something that puts them in a category that would group them with other similar posts. Doing the keywords separately means that searching under ‘google’ would give all posts about anything I tagged ‘google” (could be google blogger, google analytics, the google search engine, the company, etc). Now that is fine for a category since it does allow someone to find everything I posted about anything related to google, but doesn’t help for finding those posts about getting or using blog statistics.

There really is an art to categorizing your posts and it is a process of refining and redoing them regularly. It helps if you start out on the right foot, knowing some of these things. I didn’t when I started and I now have sort of a mess and really need to go back an correct them. When you have a lot of posts, it is really a pain in the butt to do that though since it is very time-consuming and you have to do each post individually. So if you start with some good categories, you will save yourself a lot of time!

How to create categories/labels:

WordPress

When you write a post, you have the ability to add categories/labels to your post to help identify and categorize it. You can select and add categories to your WordPress blog in the categories box to the right of where you write your posts. This is the same whether using a wordpress.com hosted wordpress blog or a wordpress.org self-hosted blog.

wordpress-cats.png

Blogger:

In Google Blogger (Blogspot), there is a text box at the bottom of where you compose your post that says “Labels for this post:” and you enter the labels you want to use

blogger-cats.JPG

WordPress:

sidebar-categories.pngThen just make sure you have included a Categories widget (for WordPress) on your sidebar so people can use it to search by category. The picture to the left is a picture of my sidebar 2 (right sidebar) for my blog. You can see that under the “Odiogo Subscribe Button” widget is my “Categories” widget. I have it configured so that it uses a drop-down box to display my categories. If I click on the little horizontal lines on the right of the widget, it brings up a box that lets me choose if I want a drop-down box or just a list (which can take up a lot of room on your sidebar if you have a lot of categories), and lets me give it a title and show the number of posts in each category. It also lets me choose to Show Hierarchy which to be honest, I don’t really know what that does. It doesn’t change anything when I check it.

If you are using the default sidebars for your template, it will most likely already have a categories widget. If not, and you want to add it, be aware that if you add anything to a default sidebar, it will remove all the other widgets so you will have add them as well.

Also, the template I am using displays the categories that each post is filed under rightcategories-post.png under the title of the post (see example). So someone could read this post about Picnik and if they were interested in more information about Picnik, they could click on the category “Picnik” at the top of my post and get a list of all the posts that are filed under “Picnik”. Different templates work differently, some have them at the bottom of the post and some don’t include them at all. It is something to look for when choosing a template if you want to have the categories for each post listed. Not everyone uses them, but when I am visiting a blog, if I read a post about an interesting subject and want to know more, I will click on the appropriate category in the post list. Of course, if that isn’t available, I will use the category list on the side to see what else they might have.

Blogger:

blogger-labels.pngTo add a category widget (which is called a Label Page Element) in Blogger, you go to template–>page elements and click on “Add a Page Element” and choose the Label page element. You can click on edit to edit it but there isn’t a lot you can do in Blogger, basically just list either alphabetically or by frequency.

And to show the labels for each post in Blogger, choose ‘edit’ in the Blog Posts box on that window and check the “labels” box.

blogger-labels-in-post.png Also, the template I am using (and near as I can tell, most of the templates in Google Blogger) displays the categories that each post is filed under right under the title of the post (see example). So someone could read this post about Las Vegas internet access and if they were interested in more information about Las Vegas, they could click on the category “las vegas” at the top of my post and get a list of all the posts that are filed under “las vegas”.

So as you write your posts, think about what category/label would be useful to search your blog for other similar posts and file your post under those categories. It will help other people find things on your blog. And don’t forget to try it out on other people’s blogs too!

~Susan Mellott

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