Categories, tags & keywords: How to get the most from smart use of these tools

February 11, 2013 by Frontline Copy

by Faith Attaguile

Using categories, tags & keywords in your green business blog

 

If you have a business blog, then you’ve had to categorize your posts, choose tags and designate keywords.

Maybe you’ve already gone through the motions, but do you really understand why each one is important in its own right?

The fact is, categories, tags and keywords play unique roles in the process of bringing visitors to your website and keeping them there. They are valuable tools in your onsite and offsite toolkits.

Categories and tags: Key gadgets in your onsite toolkit

Think of it like this: Categories and tags work like onsite filing systems that make it easier for your visitors to find posts they’re interested in once they’re on your company blog.

Categories are like the drawers in your blog filing cabinet. They’re essential because they offer easy access to your posts according to the subject matter. Always create categories with your audience in mind. To make their navigation easier and their website experience more enjoyable, think about how your audience might categorize the information you will be offering them.

Tags act like an index to your blog filing cabinet. Ever checked the index of a book you’re reading to find a specific word or name? When you do, you’ll find a list of all the pages that hold that word. That’s how tags work for your blog filing cabinet.

How else are categories and tags different?

You can create subcategories within categories. These subcategories are unique to their parent category and can't cross over into other categories. Categories are essential because they offer easy access to your posts according to the subject matter. In addition, categories are static. You “file” your posts according to categories, like you'd file papers in a particular filing cabinet drawer. You don’t change the names on your file drawers. You don’t change category names, either.

Unlike categories, tags don't have sub-tags. They are not static but fluid and can cross over categories. There’s also no specific limit to the number of tags you can designate when you upload your post. (But don’t abuse this by “tag stuffing.” It’s a waste of energy and doesn’t help you.)

You tag a post to identify its connection to a certain subject (say, “sustainable”). Once tagged, that post will be listed under that tag name, along with all the other posts with similar tags. When a reader clicks on the “sustainable” tag link, she or he will find all the posts in your company blog tagged in that manner. Since tags can cross categories, posts tagged "sustainable" may actually be filed away in different categories.

Want a rule to follow to avoid tag confusion? If a tag doesn’t point to specific content in a way that will enrich the reader’s experience, don’t use it. Tags are meant to help your business blog visitors, not hinder them.

Cheat sheet for categories & tags

Using categories and tags in your green business blog

Keywords:
Vital hooks in your offsite and onsite toolkits

People often confuse keywords and tags, seeing them as one and the same. They are not. Tags are onsite tools. They’re part of your onsite toolkit.

Keywords, on the other hand, are tools for your offsite and onsite toolkits. Keywords require thought and research into what words people use offsite to find the product, service or information you provide.

Keywords help offsite search engines classify your web pages, or (in the case of your business blog) they help identify what your posts are about. They are the “keys” that can pull your company blog or website to the top of search engine results. Smart handling of their offsite and onsite value allows you to use them as hooks that bring traffic to your website.

Tags, as compared to keywords, don't require research and can be fairly spontaneous. To generate good tags, it only takes a little logic and understanding about how to use them in a way that helps visitors navigate your business blog. And unlike the impact that keywords can have, tags have little impact on search engine results.

Cheat Sheet for keywords & tags

cheat sheet for tags and keywords

Using onsite keywords
to benefit from offsite and onsite searches

You now know the difference between keywords, tags and categories. And you understand the important role of keywords in offsite search engine results. But how do you make the best use of keywords in the onsite environment?

Cyberspace (offsite) keywords won’t work for you unless they are mirrored in onsite content and metadata. That’s a role quite separate and apart from the roles played by categories and tags, tools primarily used to file onsite information.

Attracting visitors to your website through keywords involves careful research into what words or phrases people use in offsite searches. Smoothly incorporating those words into website content and metadata will forge direct links between onsite keywords and offsite keyword searches — hooking and then reeling in visitors to your website.

So, for the hook, the pull and the ultimate visit — skillfully weave your primary keywords into these onsite areas:

  • Blog/website content keywords. As long as they are appropriately integrated into your website content, blog headlines, and even sub-headlines, keywords can bring valuable traffic to you through search engine results. Don’t be a keyword stuffer, though, or you’ll go directly to the Google jail. And here's another thing: Well-placed keywords in website content can also facilitate onsite searches. While you don’t place keywords in onsite search boxes, your visitors may. Often, rather than using tags and categories, visitors will use keywords to find their way around your website. So when you incorporate keywords properly in your website content and blogs, visitors searching onsite with keywords get a more engaging website experience.
  • Meta keywords. Choosing meta keywords for each blog post should continue to be part of your standard operating procedure although currently Google largely ignores them. That’s because, back in the day, too many people tried to generate top-notch search engine results by stuffing ridiculous numbers of keywords here. However, because nobody really knows just how much Google ignores meta keywords, be safe and keep adding them. But don’t add more than ten meta keywords. If you do, Google — even though ignoring them in search results but rightly obsessive about keyword stuffing — might issue you a ticket for your trouble.
  • Meta titles, meta descriptions. High-quality and succinct titles and descriptions still impress Google and count in searches. So don't overlook your keyword homework. Find the keywords that resonate the most in cyberspace searches for the product, service or information you provide. Then use savvy skills to cleverly weave them into catchy meta titles and descriptions. Google likes that and will take note.

Putting your tools to work for you

To get the highest value from categories, tags and keywords, remember:

  1. Categories are the onsite drawers in your blog filing cabinet. They keep your blogs filed and organized in a logical way.
  2. Tags are your onsite blog index. They work like the listings in book indexes. Tags are not keywords and should never be used as such. Don’t mix them up.
  3. Keywords are onsite and offsite tools for driving traffic. They are the fishing lines from your website into cyberspace that hook visitors and pull them in.

By skillfully using these tools, you can turn them into valuable website assets. With increased traffic and more click-throughs as a payoff, it pays to put these tools to work for you.

 

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