In a very unsexy way, a blog is a database. Each blog post has a ton of content attached to it, including the author, the date, the meta description, photos, links, and your labels (or tags and categories if you're in WordPress).
Bloggers, especially those of you who have been around for a while, may have an unwieldy list of labels.
The longer the list, the more difficult it can be for you to manage. And if you display all of your labels in a tag cloud or a sidebar list, it is going to be that much more confusing for your readers.
And ultimately, your blog is for your readers.
Let's think about this from a user experience perspective. For example, if you're on a new makeup blog and you want to look for a Too Faced mascara review, how are you going to find it? Search.
Search, search, search. Are you going to click on the Mascara category and scroll through to see if the blogger included the post you're looking for? Probably not. But you may be more likely to click on a Makeup Review category AFTER you've read a really helpful review of that Too Faced mascara.
If you're still with me, I apologize for my mini UX rant. Let me simplify this argument:
it's best to make your blog straightforward for all of your readers, no matter how they come across your blog.
How you choose to organize your blog on the back end is up to you, but how you choose to present the chaos is what's most important.
I'm guilty of information overload myself. This old sidebar is just craziness.
Who is really going to sift through a long list of categories and subcategories?
My guess is only me, and even I have a hard time discerning what posts should be where.
Give your labels some love. Strip down the number of categories you list on your blog to the main categories. Your readers will thank you.
Feeling the pull not to streamline? Here are some questions I fought against myself.
But What About SEO?
SEO is going to be best represented in other ways on your blog these days. The really important, instantly-controllable elements of SEO?:
- Your meta description for your post - this means Yoast in WordPress or Search Description in Blogger (learn how to set that up in Step 1 of this post)
- Your post title (which is an h1 in HTML), and the main subtitles or headers of your blog (should be h2's)
- Your image alt tags
- The actual body of your blog post
So, plastering your blog post with a million "keyword-rich" labels or tags won't do anything for you, except make your database cry.
But What About Being Specific?
Sure, you may want to be able to point your readers to a very specific set of blog posts, like how I have posts on how to start a blog vs. how to improve your blog, which both fit under the main category of Blogging.
So on the back end, while I can keep the labels for starting vs improving on the backend, I only need to present the main Blogging category on the sidebar. Why? Because anyone looking for blogging tips would probably find both types of posts helpful.
If there are a set of really specific blog posts you wish to highlight (like my set of hand lettering tutorials which are different from regular design or blogging tutorials and mix the labels hand lettering and tutorials, you can still do that. Just make sure it isn't presented alongside of 20 other really specific blog post sets.
The other argument for not being really specific when presenting blog categories: you can always edit it. If you find your readers are always asking for more Photoshop tutorials, you can add or swap out that category to your sidebar or navigation. A blog is a work in progress and can be tailored to your readers' needs.
I Present My New Blog Labels
In working on this for my own blog, inspired by streamlined blogs I've come across recently, I'd like to present my new main attractions for this blog:
- Hand Lettering Tutorials - you guessed it, posts geared towards showing you how to incorporate hand lettering and calligraphy into your designs, as well as how to take your lettering from paper to digital
- Design Posts - A blanket category of all design posts, including blog designs, typography, eye candy roundups, posts on Photoshop and Illustrator, and including hand lettering posts
- On Blogging - posts on how to start a blog, improve your blog, use social media
- Creative Business - posts on freelancing, productivity, designer interviews, as well as personal shop announcements
- Life and Love - The most loosey-goosey category of them all, combining my less frequent lifestyle and personal posts. Named "life and love" because really any "lifestyle" post I've published is me gushing over something I really love.
- Self Improvement - A standout category that is different from Life and Love and also different from productivity posts under Creative Business, focusing on happiness and mindfulness.
Again, I urge you to comb through your posts a little, find your main categories as well as the categories you wish to feature in your sidebar or your navigation, and then have clear links to only a handful of categories, tags, or labels.
How do you organize your blog post labels? I'd love to hear your thought process, or if this is on your to-do list.