Now that we have our blogging platform, and our theme or front end, we need to start working on the backend of the site.
One of the areas that seems to be the biggest hang up for organizations stepping into the social media/blogging realm is the idea behind categories and tags. Which is what and what is which? It really confuses a lot of folks. And it confused me for a long time. I couldn’t quite grasp what each was for and what the difference was.
I am still working on my analogy but I try to explain it to people, potential bloggers like this.
The “Blogosphere” is a Super Wal Mart.
Your blog is the grocery section
Your category is the vegetable aisle
Your tags are the different vegatables in the aisle
Example. Your blog is titled Groceries at Super Wal Mart. Your blog post is titled Potato Chips. Your category might be Snack Foods and your tags would be Lays, Wise, potato chip, Cheeze Doodles, Cheetos, pretzel sticks, pretzel knots and my personal favorite, Munchos.
Did I completely lose you in the bread aisle?
My main blog, Scott’s Morning Brew, has 7 categories.
Currently, I have about 400 tags.
One of the trickiest tasks involved with setting up my agency’s blog, was choosing the categories. Each section of a magazine theme is generally defined by a category. There are five secions on the front page, not including the sidebar. I wanted to make sure that the sections displayed on the front end of the blog were relevant, interesting and provided enough information that visitors didn’t have to dig to deep. The categories on the front page are self explanatory and the reasoning behind choosing them is probably pretty obvious. If not, ask me.
A sixth category is General Information and is not displayed on the front of the blog. It is the catch all and the category that I move some entries out of other categories to. For example, an event that has passed would be moved to General Information for historical purposes. That way it stays a part of the site but not on the front page in the events section.
*The Featured category is a hybrid. Any entry from any other category could go here. This is the article, or blog entry that is in the top left most corner of the blog. The “FEATURED” section. The entry may also be in Press Releases, General Information or Announcements. Once it’s usefulness of being a featured article has passed, it is removed from this category and place in a category of it’s own.
Since my agency is a police department, an example might be an article concerning a bank robbery, where a suspect’s photograph was taken. The investigators release the photo to the public along with a press release describing him/her. We put the photo in the FEATURED category and it displays foremost on the site.
Once that suspect has been dealt with, or another entry takes precedence it is moved down to it’s preferred category. In this case, press releases.
Using that same example of a bank robbery, we might add the tags of Bluebird Bank and Trust, robbery, armed, and firearm.
Once the blog starts getting populated with information, visitors can then search on “Bluebird Bank and Trust” and find all entries, regardless of category that mention it.
Tags can also be useful for SEO, or search engine optimization as well as on sites like Technorati and other social bookmarking/catalog sites.
I hope this clarifies the Category/Tag difference and their usefulness. If I managed to muddy the waters for you, please let me know. I will try to explain further.