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  • Using Tags and Categories

    Tags and Categories : Categories are for users. Tags are for tagging services like Technorati. Is that clear?

    Tagging arrived a little over a year ago and took the web by storm. Tagging is part of a movement towards “social bookmarks”, a method of creating mini-categories for post content which are similar but not quite the same as keywords, and using people’s opinion to promote interesting websites, blogs, and information to the top of a list created, in part, by tag services.

    Categories help your visitor move through your blog finding related material. For instance, on this site, I have categories for WordPress News and WordPress Tips. If you are visiting this blog and are interested in tips related to WordPress, then you would visit the posts within that category. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

    WordPress marks categories automatically as tags. This is great as it instantly adds tags to your post, but not all categories are worthy of being tagged. For instance, my category, Blog. Who is going to search for “blog”? No one can be sure of it. But you instantly understand that you will find posts within that category related to blogging. It’s a synonym for “talking about blogs and blogging”. Search engines and tagging services don’t deal well with synonyms. This is just one example of the many problems with tags. I like my few neat categories and so I manually add tags to the bottom of my posts.

    Tags categorize your content with keywords into micro-categories used by tagging services. They can be chosen by you and posted on and within your posts on your blog, or by users who “tag” your post in their tagging service account, which then may help other users who are searching that tagging service for that particular tag.

    Tags are similar but different from keywords. Keywords are what people will use in search engines to find your information, while tags are used by those using tag services to find your information. Search engines are slowly embracing tagging, so the line between these two is blurring.

    The keywords on this post might be:

    seo, search engine, optimization, keywords, clean, checking, maintenance, site maintenance, cleaning, optimizing, search, crawler, search engine crawler, validation, web, and standards

    The tags could be one or more of the following:

    seo, search+engine, optimization, keywords, validation, standards, webdev, web+development

    Any link can be assigned a “relationship” as a tag.

    <a href="/index.php?s=apple" title="Apple - A fruit" rel="tag">Apple</a>

    The link can be to anything. It can be, as shown, to a search page that looks for posts with the word “Apple”. It can go to any tagging service like Technorati. It can also go to or any web page link.

    Search engines and tagging service crawlers or spiders come through your blog after being pinged or upon invitation to find every mention of rel="tag" and add that to their database along with part or all of that page, connecting the tag with your content. Users will visit Technorati and type in a keyword, like “apple”, and all posts with tags for “apple” will appear in the search results. If you have a post that is all about apples, but you haven’t included a tag for “apple”, then the tagging services will not have that post listed under “apple”. This makes tagging services limiting since their database returns are based upon tags not overall content and keywords. Still, tagging services offer an alternative to searching from traditional search engines and tend to focus their search results on blogs rather than traditional websites.

    Whether or not your categories serve solely as your tags or you add tagging elsewhere in your blog, it is up to you. Either way, many search engines, in addition to tagging services, are now using tags to collect information about the content on your blog and blog posts. Learn how to use them and when.

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