Tags and Categories? Please help me!!

The BookDepository

1-1232472552p4l3I need to decide on a new system for organising the posts on my blog. I have been very random in my use of tags and categories, but I think this blog is getting to the size where this isn’t good enough any more. I have looked at a few blogs, and everyone seems to use tags in a different way. Some people display tag clouds on their blogs, and the only ones which seem to be used are ‘review’ and ‘audio book’.

Do you ever use tags on other peoples’ blogs? If so, which words are the most useful?

Categories seem to be used even more infrequently. Is this because it is an option not available to everyone?

At the moment I am mainly using the category section for my challenges, but this isn’t going to be useful in the long-term when I start to repeat challenges, for example the ‘pub challenge’ category is going to be  redundant at the end of the year, so perhaps I should have a ‘Books Published in 2009’ category?

I was thinking of just having categories for each of the book prizes, but I’m not sure how to split tags and categories. Should I be using them for two separate things?

What categories would you find useful?

Have you seen a blog which makes really good use of tags and categories?

All thoughts and opinions very gratefully received!


Send to Kindle

26 Comments

  1. Care says:

    What a great question! I think excessive extensive tagging is for those who want to be captured by as many searches as they can (which isn’t me) I usually tag the specifics, like if it’s a review, I use the title and author as tags. But for categories – these are for ME. When I search back through my own posts to find something, I rely on my Weekly Geek category, for example.

    I’m probably not the best person to advise on this topic, but what I do seems to work for me.

    Good luck! Is this for BIP?

  2. Steph says:

    Oh man, I wish I could help, but my tag system is eclectic at best. I do try to use date tags (e.g., I have the tag “books read in XXXX”) so that if people are interested in seeing all of the books I’ve read in a given year (or I suppose movies I’ve watched or concerts I’ve been to), they can find them that way. We use Categories strictly for large “umbrella topics” (e.g., Food, Books, Games, etc.,), and I use the tags to help people navigate within those categories (though not strictly, since the tag “creeeepy”, can be applied to virtually any category’s post! See what I mean about eclectic? ;) ).

  3. Jackie says:

    Care – No, this isn’t really for BIP, but I suppose it falls under its umbrella.

    I’m not sure tagging helps with the search engines. I think they have to be meta-tags to do that. This is just for organisation on my blog.

    I have weekly geeks as a category, but wonder if it should be a tag…

    Steph – I guess I don’t have such large topics as you, as my blog is all books, and mostly the same type of books. It is going to be interesting to see how everyone uses them – hopefully by the end of this post I’ll have some idea of what to do!

  4. I use both categories and tags on my blog. The reason that it seems that tags are used more often is because blogger doesn’t do categories, just tags. WordPress does both.

    I think of categories as a table of contents to my blog and tags as it’s index. Categories are more broad and tags more specific.

    I do think my system is a bit imperfect as I’ve been wondering if some of my categories should also be tags (but tags I don’t use as categories).

  5. Lu says:

    I’m curious about the answers you get to this question, because I wonder too! Maybe I should go back and update all the tags and categories. Great question!

  6. Jackie says:

    Natasha – Thank you for the explanation about blogger not having categories – that makes a lot of sense now.

    Lu – Going back to update all the tags is going to be a lot of hard work, but I think the sooner, the better!

  7. Beth F says:

    I’m on Blogger so I don’t know the difference between tags and categories. Come look at my pull-down list of labels to see what I’ve done.

    In general, I think my labels work because when I need to search for something on my blog, I can find it using my labels.

    That said, I have some housekeeping to do. I am going to ditch some labels: “Meme” is dumb because I never use it alone, for example. I have some typos to get rid of too. Anything that has only 1 post in it is not a useful label.

    When I move my tabs from my test blog to the real blog I will have 3 tabs for reviews: genre, title, author. That should get people to a particular review easily.

    I obviously have no real advice.

  8. Pam says:

    I use both tags and catagories and I use them in a certain way. With catagories, I put whether it is a review, or a blog post first. Then I put it in a catagory for what type of book is it. Teen and Fantasy or Romance, or Chick lit. Then I use tags to put what I think people will be searching for to find this book, and these tags are displayed as a cloud on my page. People do click them to see what comes up for each tag and the more you use a tag the bigger and more bold it becomes.

    I also on the inside of my wordpress in my backend use ‘custom fields’ to keep track of the author name in case I want to easily throw those in some list on the site someday.

    OCD comes in handy for organization :)

  9. Sandy says:

    I’m probably not the person to answer this, as I haven’t put alot of foresight into it. I do tag by author always, and reading challenges. Sometimes I will tag based on a topic, like WWII or India, for example, but I’m not consistent. I’ve never used the tags on other people’s sites (although maybe I should!) but have used it on mind to dig up reviews on certain authors, etc. I will watch your post here, and maybe I can pick up some tips!

  10. Ti says:

    I use Blogger so I don’t have “categories” but I do use tags. As a blog reader, for me… I find that just a simple search box is much more useful than a tag. If I am looking for a review on a particular title I just search for it.

    I’ve noticed lately that many blogs are losing the search field and it’s very difficult to find anything when they disable that feature.

    I like your use of Categories. I wouldn’t change it and I see that you used page tabs to keep track of certain types of info. That helps too.

    Personally, I don’t like tag clouds. They take up too much space.

  11. pussreboots says:

    I try to keep my tags to a minimum. I use “review” for book reviews because one of the sites that uses my feed requires it. I use “books” for all my book posts. Then I tag by genre, author(s) and date originally published. If the book features a popular character I might also tag that character.

  12. Jackie says:

    Beth – So when you move your tabs from your test blog will you be able to select three different things at once? Sounds good, but it looks as though blogger and wrodpress behave very differently.

    Sandy – I always wonder whether to tag the place where the book was set. Works well for places like India, but is anyone really going to search out books set in the UK or America?

    Ti – I have to admit that I rarely use tags on other peoples’ blogs, or even my own. I use the search box – just like you! I wish more people would have it too!

    pussreboots – Good idea – I think I’m going to add categories for the publication date. Perhaps individual years for recent releases, but then 1990s, 1980s etc.

  13. Jackie says:

    Pam – I have never used that custom field section. I’ll have to look into that – thanks for the idea!

  14. Louise says:

    I would also like to organize my tags a little better and also trying to stick to them, instead of making new ones up randomly.

    I haven’t been in the loop for months, so I am just now trying to get back into the swing of things and just wanted to say hi :)

  15. Jackie says:

    Hi Louise – Good to see you back!

  16. Best of luck! I spent ages trying to determine this when I spent a couple of weekends back re-vamping my blog.

    For me, Categories is mostly ‘Authors’, ‘Genre’ and ‘Type of Post’, so say, ‘Review’/’Weekly Geeks’/’Musing Mondays’ etc.

    Tags, on the other hand, include the author, as well as the city/country the book is based in (if relevant), whether it’s won/been nominated for any awards and some general theme, like ‘World War II’, ‘Civil Unrest’, ‘Communism’ etc.

    Talk about confusion, and things not making much sense! Don’t think I helped much.

    Oops.

  17. Jackie says:

    uncertainprinciples – I visited your blog and I liked the way you use the parent category, and then sub category for all the authors. I haven’t used that function at all, but I can see how well it works on your blog – I’ll have to do that. Thank you!

  18. Matthew says:

    My tag system didn’t evolve until pretty much last year. Consider how much the blog devotes to book reviews, I realize I don’t even have “book reviews” tag! Some of my most popular tags are:

    Books, Literature, Contemporary Literature, and so on.

    I also make tags out of authors’ names.

  19. Kim says:

    Great question, Jackie, thanks for asking. Now I am thinking about reorganising my tags, too.

  20. Jackie says:

    Matthew – I’m not sure I see the point of a ‘book reviews’ tag. Almost all my posts are book reviews, so anyone who clicked on that tab would bring up so many posts – if they want to see all the books I’ve reviewed they’d be better off looking at my A-Z of books reviewed page. I can’t decide whether to manke authors names into tags or categories though.

    Kim – I look forward to seeing how you decide to organise your tags, as I’m still very confused!

  21. Rebecca Reid says:

    I didn’t read the other comments ‘cuz i just have a minute so sorry if this has already been said.

    I use categories for general themes: Reviews (subcategorized as nonfiction, fiction, children’s) and Nonreviews (memes, reading journals, challenge info). I use tags for detailed ideas each post is about: dystopia, international affairs, favorite book, politics, reading lists, etc.

    I think I do it mainly for myself because I like to be organized. It might help google searches, but I don’t care if it does or doesn’t. I’m just compulsive about being organized.

    I don’t often use other people’s categories or tags because I can never figure out how they have organized it. If it were clear, I might use them to find specific posts. I’m more likely to visit their “books read archive” than click on category links.

  22. Matthew says:

    I agree that “book reviews” tags aren’t necessary, because the blog speaks for itself. Maybe you can make tags out of genres.

  23. Beth F says:

    No you won’t be able to select three things at once. one tab gets you an author list, one tab gets you a title list and one tab gets you a genre list. All lists are the same, just arranged differently.

  24. Trish says:

    I don’t actually use tags on other people’s blogs very often, but I use them on my own blog (how funny does that sound!). Or if I do click on someone’s tag, it usually has something to do with a challenge–me wanting to see what other books they read for the challenge? And yes, I use my challenge tags over and over. I’m still using the same non-fiction challenge tag even though this is my third year to do it.

  25. trish says:

    Jackie, here’s an explanation from Lorelle on the difference between categories and tags. Specifically, check out the heading Tags or Categories, Which One to Use?

    I admit that my categories aren’t what I would like them to be, but when I fix them, I’m going to model them after Fyrefly’s categories: http://fyreflybooks.wordpress.com/

  26. Jackie says:

    Thank you for all your help.

    I do love Fyrefly’s categories, and I think I will make changes to mine so that they reflect those ones. It is going to be a lot of work though!

Leave a Reply