If you are a professional content strategist, you probably know the latest about how to use this feature of WordPress blog posts, but many great writers are just a little clueless about the most efficient and effective way to use them for search. In addition, Google’s search engine has changed the way it evaluates tags in particular in its cataloging of pages.
Categories as Browsing Tools
Categories provide you, the writer, with an opportunity to collect different blog posts into one or more of the more general categories that reveal the posts’ relationship to the major topics or offerings of your site. They help you organize your thoughts and figure out themes for your posts, and they help browsing readers who’ve read one post on love, for example, to find other posts that are primarily on that same subject. Categories are not designed to help people search for specific names or topics that may be mentioned in a post but are not one of the themes of your blog as a whole. In other words, categories are like a table of contents for your entire site.
So, choose your categories, which should be a much smaller list than the one for your tags, based on what major subjects you want to group your posts under. Then you can post this short list in your blog’s sidebar or even use some or all of them in your menu so people can use them easily (like that table of contents in a book).
Here’s a basic example of categories for a site where a fairly wide range of topics and more than one type of writing is covered:
My publishing services website has these categories, which primarily reflect my services:
- Book Design
- Book Indexing
- Editing & Proofreading
- Freelance Biz
Please note that both lists are short, and they do not include specific topics of posts. I don’t have a category for grammar, for example. Those posts would go in the Editing & Proofreading category. I might have a poem about my teddy bear, but it would just go in Poetry with all the poetry posts.
For more specific, index-like search terms for your post, you need to use the tags section that’s available on the right side of your post editor. I’ll cover best practices for those in a future post.