How to organize your blog's categories and tags

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Hey creative blogger. Do you ever feel like your blog is a hot mess?

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).

The database works in your favor, because it gives you a way to point your readers to all of your posts about X, or can also help you pinpoint specific posts all about Y.

If you're a blogger who's been blogging for a while, you may have an unwieldy list of labels.

The longer the list, the more difficult it can be for you to manage. Ultimately, it is confusing and overwhelming for your readers.

And for real—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 find your blog.

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Why it's best to have your blog categories, tags, or labels streamlined, organized, and presented in a clear way to your blog readers
Why it's best to have your blog categories, tags, or labels streamlined, organized, and presented in a clear way to your blog readers

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 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.

Old category and label sidebar in Blogger is too long
Old category and label sidebar in Blogger is too long

SO?

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.

It's a lot of work. Believe me. So if you're feeling lazy and are feeling the pull not to streamline your categories and tags, 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. Don't do it!

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, I'd like to present my new main attractions for this blog:

  • Creativity - 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. 
  • Intentional Living - a blanket category about minimalism, mindfulness, nearo waste (near zero waste), and unplugging from technology. These are posts that will help you analyze your life to see where you can find true happiness.
  • Creative Business - posts on freelancing, productivity, designer interviews, blogging, and more.

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.

Cover photo by Everygirlboss.com