Saturday, January 08, 2011

Techie: Ten top reasons to use tags on your blog

Why use tags on your blog?  In this post I list ten top reasons why using tags on your blog will benefit you. 

First, why am I writing about tags?  Well I was reviewing a blog and wanted to see what else the artist had written on specific topics.  However the content of her archive is not easily accessible - because it had not been tagged / labelled / categorised.

So what is a "tag"?  Essentially it's a word which is used to describe accurately the content of a blog post.  It's also known as a label (in Blogger) and some people call it a category (as I do).  Terminology tends to vary depending on the blogging software employed.

This is how wikipedia defines a tag
In online computer systems terminology, a tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an Internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. Tags are generally chosen informally and personally by the item's creator or by its viewer, depending on the system.
Wikipedia - Tag (metadata)

Catnapping #10
sepia pen and ink (5.75" x 4")
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Ten top reasons to use tags on your blog 
Use the labels/tags function on a Blogger blog - they are very powerful in getting rankings in Google searches (see this post). Those who use tags which they know are popular but don't deliver content that reflects this are penalized.
  1. Improve your blog's ranking in Google by using tags which accurately reflect the content of a post
  2. Focus on the keywords you want associated with your artwork/writing by identifying an appropriate tag(s).  Many is the time I've gone back and redrafted a post after I got to the tagging stage and realised the emphasis of the post was not what I had originally intended
  3. Create signposts which help people to access your archives through the use of tags.  Your archive of blog posts remain completely inaccessible in topic terms if there's no way of describing what you have already written about.  Much of what artists write about is time independent and consequently remains relevant and of interest long after the post is written. 
  4. Increase your traffic through the use of tags - they provide an alternative way to find your blog.  Making A Mark gets a huge amount of traffic from people accessing my five years of archives - which equates to in excess of 1,700 posts - many of which continue to be accessed on a regular basis.
  5. Help people on the internet who are searching for information by using tags.  Once you've written enough on a specific topic (with a tag) this content can actually crop up in browser search results (ie the browser returns the tag for the topic rather than a specific blog post)
  6. Help visitors to your blog to see what else you've written on a topic.  I find that tags provide a character profile for a blog and the blogger.  If a visitor likes how the tags describe what is the focus of your blog from your tags then it's more likely that he or she will linger and look at more posts and/or may also subscribe or return again
  7. Identify appropriate other posts for widgets like Link Within.  Tags help with prompting more relevant posts for the widget - which in turn helps with engagement with your blog.
  8. Tags are helpful to targeting any adverts you may run on your blog
  9. Tags help YOU find previous posts you've written on a topic.  So, for example, I put "tags" into the Google search in the right hand column and they helped to identify all the previous posts on this topic.  This makes it particularly useful for people like me who can no longer remember everything they've ever written on this blog!  It was quite a shock to see it's been over three years since I last wrote about tags!
  10. Tags can help you to reflect on what you write about on your blog.  You can see by the wordcloud for my tags at the bottom of the right hand column (where it says "CLICK a link and browse the Categories") what are the most frequent topics on this blog.  I began to realise the value of tags at a personal level after I only began to realise the extent of my own interest in certain topics after realising how often I've written about these specific topics.
So - do you use tags and, if so, do you think you're using them to best effect?

Here's a link to previous posts I've written on this topic:
For new readers/subscribers:  Techie posts appear periodically and very often on a Saturday.  If you look at Techies you can see previous posts I've written about technical matters relating to blogging, webware, web analytics and computers

    12 comments:

    ivanka k said...

    Hi Katherine, this is very interesting post. I just started to look at tags because of the traffic on my blog and after reading your post I realized I don't use them properly! I guess it's a subject to change. Thanks Ivana

    Casey Klahn said...

    Also, I'd say they increase intra-blog hits, or they keep readers inside your blog finding new pages.

    This expands on your bullet: "see what else..."

    Katherine Tyrrell said...

    Absolutely

    I reckon a visitor needs to read about two or three posts minimum before they decide they want to subscribe via email of feedreader.

    The more we do to help visitors read blog posts of interest to them, the more people end up following the blog - which provides a higher profile for thei blogger - and hence their artwork! :)

    Katherine Tyrrell said...

    Ivanka - the comment I most often want to leave on a blog is "PLEASE start using tags properly"

    However that always seems a bit cheeky - hence I write these techie type blog posts instead

    The reality is that for somebody like me who scans lots of blogs (adnd others who have similar constraints on time) you have to make navigation around TOPICS as easy as possible. Tags are brilliant for being able to show people what you have to say about a topic.

    So for example if I'm looking at the blog of a pastel artist - I'd be very interested in a tag which said "pastel tips and techniques" and I couldn't care two hoots if the blog posts which popped up when I clicked on the links were old so long as they were good. :)

    JP said...

    This was a very informative and convincing post! I never really wanted to take the time, but I've since gone back and seen how easy it is to maintain, thanks!

    Michelle (artscapes) said...

    Hmmmm. I hope I am not one of those ones that inspires you to want to leave that comment! I use tags, but, I know now I could use them better. I looked at my cloud and discovered there was a tag that wasn't there, that after reading this, I know it should be.

    I have a separate menu for Topics - or Categories that I formally set up in Wordpress, but, I think it has become too narrow - which is why I am glad I have a tag cloud as well. I think I will expand it now. And rethink my post titles too.

    Great post....

    Sophie said...

    ooh, I know i should. I know I know.
    I used to but just got bored doing it, did not want to take the time. And I ended up with the same tags for everything: oil painting, new work, portrait !! Boring....all my work is the same perhaps...LOL
    I’ll look into it again...Thanks Kath.

    Deborah Elmquist said...

    My learning curve is deep. I've only been blogging for a year and didn't know why I had so little traffic. I'm taking notes and more notes and hope I can utilize all this great information. I'm going back and rereading my tags with a critical eye.

    julie susanne said...

    You mention labels in Blogger as their form of tags. For blog search engines, are there additional ways to include tags(even when using blogger)?
    I recently posted about pinging blog search engines and am now researching 'tags.' Thanks-
    ~~julie susanne

    Morgan Cerese said...

    Thanks for the informative blog post. I've never tagged my posts but now I will.

    Robin Neudorfer said...

    Thank you for this informative post. I had just been thinking about this exact issue and there was your post.
    I do in other formats, just have not taken the time in Blogger.
    In your opinion, does it help to go back as far as one is patient, and insert tags to posts?
    Lesson learned. Thanks

    Katherine Tyrrell said...

    I've been tagging right from the start so I couldn't say as to the value of doing a catch-up for Google.

    However from the perspective of those who visit your blog and yourself - in terms of trying to find posts on a topic - yes, it's always an exercise worth doing.

    The simplest way to do it is from the list of posts in the "edit posts" page. That way you can apply a tag to several posts at once

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