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One Year Anniversary Review: Tags, Tagging, and Categories

Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin sidebar list of tagsThis past year was proclaimed by many as the Year of the Tag as Technorati’s tag services and features roared onto our blogs. By December of 2005, there was barely a blog without some form of tags on display. Panic turned from not getting into Google fast enough to not showing up fast enough on .

As with all new technologies, there were a lot of assumptions and a lot of myths that flew around the web. After answering these in so many ways, I finally wrote “Tags and Tagging in WordPress and Everywhere” to help answer everyone’s questions and to put the myths to rest.

1. A Tag is a Keyword in a Link: A tag is a keyword. It is created by adding the attribute rel=”tag” in any link going any where…

2. Tags Serve Three Purposes:

1. Tags link readers to keyword related content, on or off your blog.
2. Tags help group content by category and keyword.
3. Tags are recognized by search engines and tag services crawlers as tags and they are treated like keywords.

Tags do not cause people to rush to your blog. Tags do not increase traffic. Tags do not help search engines add you to their databases. Tags do not help your page ranking. Tags do not cause readers to be impressed with what you write. Tags do not help you with social climbing or social bookmarking.

Pings get the attention of search engines and tag services, not tags. The keywords in your post content helps search engines and tag services define your content for searchability and page rank.

There has been a lot of confusion over the issue of categories and tags. WordPress automatically designates all categories as tags. That’s fine. Personally, I don’t think that all tags are worthy of being categories. I think a long list of categories on your blog’s sidebar is confusing and an eyesore for visitors. If I’m looking for information on a specific topic, why should I scroll down a list of 100 or more categories in order to find it? Especially if your blog’s focus is only on 4 different topics but you have 100 categories used as tags? Make sense to you?

I have long thought of categories as categories and tags as helpful, linkable keywords, leading the user to more information on that specific term or reference. I spelled this out in “Tags Are Not Categories – Got It?”. This was written after I tried to help people understand the differences between tags and categories in “Categories versus Tags – What’s the Difference and Which One?”, “The Problems With Tags and Tagging” and “Categories versus Tags: Defining the Limitations”.

Honestly, why do categories have to be tags. Categories can be tags, sure, but not all categories are tags, and not all tags should be categories. I think of categories as a table of contents and tags as the index page of a book. If I’m searching for a broad topic, unsure of exactly what I need to find or the keywords, then I will hit the table of contents (categories). If I know the exact word I need in order to find the information I want, then I will hit the index page (tags). As repositories of content and information, why should blogs be any different?

Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin post meta data section list of tagsThe article I wrote on how to easily add tags to your WordPress and (or any) blog continues to be one of the most popular articles I’ve written. As does the first article I wrote about using The Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin with full version WordPress blogs.

There was a lot of excitement with tagging, and many treated it like a competition, struggling to get to the top of their tag list. Unfortunately, with Technorati at least, posts are listed by tag in chronological order, though they are sorted by popularity in the main Technorati Most Popular Tags. That is until recently. Now there is more of a popularity contest with specific categories of tags.

I’ve written a lot about how keywords help you write your blog, and it occurred to me that tags can also help you write your blog and stay on focus. I wrote “What Do You Blog About? Check Your Tags” to help you learn how to use your tags to your blog’s benefit.

I’ve written so much about tags and tagging this past year, I’m ready for something new, but it still continues to be one of the most popular topics targeted on my blog. So I’m sure you will hear more about tagging over the next year.

Articles about Tags and Categories

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted August 30, 2006 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I’m a huge fan of UTW, it’s done wonders for my traffic. I put together a little package for Ultimate Tag Warrior that adds an autotag function that intuitively figures out which tags in your database might apply to what you’ve just written, as well as fixing a couple of UTW bugs. It’s available at my blog, so stop by if you’re interested!

  2. Posted August 31, 2006 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    That is one of my few complaints with WordPress. Categories are tags. I would like to see a new feature where you can have categories on your blog (for easy navigation and organization) but use tags that the WordPress Tags site uses. That way there is a tag system linking all WordPress (or blogs and a separate category system. Especially since there is the new “Tag Surfer” system.

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