When you have a WordPress blog, or any other blog for that matter you may fall into a problem with categorization and tagging. This is the problem that most people face when they add categories and tags to their blog each time they make a blogpost.2
It’s a common occurrence that gets even the best bloggers. The reason is because sometimes when you’re blogging, you may be in a rush to publish, or in a rush to complete a post and move on to the next blogpost. But in rushing through the categories and tags, this problem becomes all too common and before you know it, you have too many categories and even more tags.
Most of the time the tags and categories keep growing and later they don’t even make sense. This was the case with one of my other blogs. As I was doing some maintenance on that blog I realized I had over 55 categories and close to 1300 tags. Some of them were only used once. I even had categories and tags that were not associated with any posts!
How Many Categories and Tags do I need?
There is no way for me to tell you how many categories or tags you should use on your own blog. Ultimately it is up to your own discretion to determine this, but I know that it is not good to have a lot of categories or tags that aren’t being used on your blog.
Having as many categories and tags as I had distracts my focus and dilutes my content. So I came up with three steps to avoid that situation as you build and develop your blog.
I’ll use an example of a food blog to illustrate.
Step 1. Define the focus of your blog
Do your best to determine what you’re going to write about and stick to that as you develop your blog. It’s easy to go out on a tangent and easy to get distracted, but if you are going to succeed, you need to stick to a plan and cover a few topics first. The best way is to pick one general theme and two or three major topics. As your blog grows so will your ability to write more and cover more tangential topics. In our example for this tutorial, the focus of the blog is food, and the topics could be any two or three of the following: Dining out, Cooking at Home, Healthy Eating, Food for Kids, Learning to Cook, Bachelor Food as possible focus topics.
Please notice that you can cover several of these topics in a food blog, but it is advisable to start with one or two before branching out into the other ones. As you write more and more blogposts you’ll also notice that you’ll be able to overlap some of these topics. For example, it would be easy to write about healthy dining out, or dining out with kids.
We’ll use Dining Out as the focus for this example.
Step 2. Define categories that compliment the focus of your blog
Let’s say that you picked Dining Out as the main focus of your blog. Now we can break that topic down into a few categories. These will hep you focus when you plan out your editorial calendar and when you are brainstorming what your’e going to write about. Categories can help you define where the content goes on your blog and help the visitor find content easily. Complimentary categories you could use to the topic of dining out could be the type of cuisine, or the price, or the type of restaurant.
For example you could consider the following categories: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Asian, Ethiopian, Australian or Italian, while another group of categories could be focused on the class of food: Fine dining, fast food, fast casual, dinner & show or barbecue.
I suggest you try to use one category only per blogpost. And start with a total of 3 to 5 for your entire blog. This restriction is totally arbitrary but it will help you maintain focus when you write.
We’ll use the class of food example and use 3 categories: fine dining, fast casual and barbecue.
Step 3. Define 3 to 5 tags that compliment each category
Tags are totally optional, but they can help you connect posts to each other by using them as one more level of categorization or classification. For example, if you feel like you want to add more categories, maybe you could use these as tags instead. If you decided to use the type of cuisine as your category then you could use tags as a way to further define your category by making the type of restaurant you are going to blog about.
Since we’re using: “fine dining, “fast casual” and “barbecue” we could use tags like: Mexican, Thai, Italian, and Asian since all of these cuisines have these different classes of food. But you could also describe the specific type of food you’re blogging about by ingredients like: meats, vegetarian, fish, dessert, family friendly, and others like that.
Notice that I suggested that we can use some of the same words that could have been used as categories earlier. If we want to further define the blogpost, we can use those as tags. You just need to keep them separate and be consistent with them once you pick one way or the other.
When you apply your tags, you can use three to five per post. Tags should compliment the category but not be repetitive.
Categories and tags can be confusing but try to come up with a plan and then use them consistently until you get a good handle on them. You are the master of your own blog, so you can change them as you go, add more if you need them, but don’t let them get out of control. It’s better to have few tags and even less categories so you can stay on track with producing great content.