We’re almost ready to start creating content, but not quite. First we need to talk about the best ways to keep your content organized. While it may not seem important in the beginning, as you build up a solid collection of content your audience needs to be able to find exactly what they are looking for. That’s why categories and tags are so important – not to mention they help you with SEO! So let’s talk about them.
Categories are the basic groupings of your posts. If your blog was a book, the categories would be chapters. Each category will have a collection of posts in it, all on the same broad topic. Note that you can have subcategories as well, but keep in mind that you don’t want too many categories. Depending on your blog, anywhere between 5 and 10 is a good amount.
If you aren’t sure what kind of categories you would use, do some research. Revisit your competitors and see what kind of categories they use. (Again, don’t copy! Just observe.) Look at some of your favorite brands and see what how they have their categories set up.
Remember that all posts should belong to a category, but try not to place one post in multiple categories. And keep the category names short and simple. (You can get cute in the tags!) People need to understand what each category means.
While you don’t have to stick to the same categories forever, ideally you’d set your blog up correctly from the beginning. Changing categories after building up a solid collection of content can cause some confusion and land your audience at a 404 page.
If categories are chapters, then tags are like an index. They make it easier for your audience to drill down to one topic and find all the posts that mention it. Because tags are more specific, they can help your audience narrow in on exactly which post they are looking for.
While categories need to be simple, you can get cute here. It’s also ok to have long tags; make them as descriptive as possible. Pull out keywords from your post to use as tags. But don’t create a tag that is the exact same as a category – that will get confusing.
You can use as many tags per post as you’d like, but do remember to always use the same format. That’s what makes them so effective! So if you tag a post “content marketing method” make sure you don’t tag a different post “content marketing methods” – the tag needs to be exactly the same to work.
We’ve created a worksheet for you to use as your brainstorm what categories and tags you should use on your blog! (And as a bonus we’ve included a column to start thinking about hashtags – we’ll talk about them soon.)
If you have any questions about blogging, even if it’s not just about categories and tagging, let us know in a comment below!