Starting a blog for your farm website? If you are using WordPress, one of the things you will have to do is select the right categories and tags for organizing your posts.
Categories and tags are important because they help your reader find content that they are interested in. For instance, not everyone who visits the Homestead on the Range website is interested in the same topics. Some come here for information about cattle, chickens, and other livestock—they will gravitate toward The Farm category. Others are seeking information on Kansas history—they are more likely to pick The Sunflower State category. These readers can narrow the topics down still further by selecting tags ranging from Agritourism to Nature to Writing.
So how do you choose the right categories and tags for your application? Let’s dig deeper.
Think of your blog as a book. The categories are your table of contents. Each entry in the table of contents covers a major topic.
What topics will you be writing about on your farm blog? Here are some suggestions:
- Perhaps you could have one category for every enterprise in your farm business—Cattle, Goats, Poultry, Produce, etc.
- If your blog is more of a personal diary, your categories might include Home, Farm, Musings, and the like.
- Some bloggers enjoy writing about current issues—their categories could include Farm Updates, Philosophy, News, and more.
But don’t choose too many categories! This is the table of contents, not the index. Keep it clean and comprehensive. Choose four to six categories that cover all of your desired topics.
Finally, about that ubiquitous Uncategorized category that WordPress kindly provides us with. While it’s a handy tool that saves the writer some headache, it does nothing to assist readers. Help them find what they are looking for by creating descriptive categories. If you have a post that does not fit into your existing categories, it may be time to reassess your site structure.
If the categories form the table of contents of your blog, the tags make up the index. Tags break things down into specific topics that readers are looking for. Tags also have the advantage of crossing category lines.
Let’s revisit the three scenarios above:
- The farm business could use tags like Meat, Milk, Vegetables, Sales, Events, etc.
- A personal homesteading blog might use tags like Cooking, Family, Inspirational, Photos, etc.
- The current-issue-minded blogger could use tags like Markets, Politics, Agribusiness, etc.
If your site is hosted on WordPress.com, keep in mind that tags offer new readers an additional way to discover your content through the WordPress Reader. WordPress Reader users can browse tag archives crossing all the multitudinous sites hosted at WordPress. Fellow bloggers can even follow their favorite tags to find new posts and sites that they will enjoy. For instance, if you write a post tagged Recipes, every WordPress user who is following the tag Recipes in the Reader will see your post!
Tags are much more flexible than categories, and you can afford to have many more of them. Just keep in mind that having 100+ tags on your blog is probably unwieldy for you and not helpful to the reader. Only create tags for topics that your readers will likely want to find out more about.
Also note that tag-packing your posts will not help you. At the time of this writing, the WordPress Reader will block posts that contain a combined total of over 15 tags and categories on the assumption that the post came from a spam blog.
Putting This Information to Use
Now that you have some categories and tags, how do you feature them to make sure that readers can find what they are looking for? Most themes automatically display the appropriate categories and tags on each post in some way, but you typically have a few more options.
Categories can sometimes go into the primary navigation menu, depending on your site structure and what pages you will need to feature there. Sidebar and footer widgets are also good places to feature category menus. Finally, consider listing your categories on your sitemap.
One of the best ways to display your tags is in a tag cloud, again in the sidebar or footer. If your blog is information-heavy and requires many tags, you can also create an index page to help your readers navigate the site.
When choosing and displaying categories and tags, always keep the primary objective in mind—helping your reader find what they’re looking for—and you can’t go wrong.