10 June 2010

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Work on Those Labels/Tags

NOTE: This is a repost from the last Bloggiesta. I'm still stewing over my labels! I won't have much time to participate this weekend, but I really do feel strongly about the issue of having easy-to-use tags. So here is what's becoming a tradition for the Bloggiesta weekend: the Labels/Tags Mini-Challenge.

This is the home of the Bloggiesta Labels/Tag Mini-Challenge. I hope you'll take this one on because you know your labels need some help. If you don't know what Bloggiesta is, pop on over to Maw Books Blog and read all about it. It's not too late to join in the fun.

Why Should You Care about Your Labels?

Each of your posts should be clearly tagged or labeled so that visitors can easily find the material that is important to them. Your labels should be broad enough to direct visitors to a number of related posts but narrow enough to make them useful.

What do I mean? Let's say you have a series of posts about attending author events (signings, readings, and so on). I come to your blog because I want to read these posts. The first thing I'll do is look for your labels gadget (Blogger) or categories/tags list (Wordpress). Then I'll scan the list looking for "author events," "author signings," or "author readings."

In the best case, you have all such posts grouped under one recognizable label ("author events," for example). Once I click on the link, I'm all set to read. You might also have a label called "author signings" so I if I'm interested in only those posts, I can find them easily too.

In the worst case, you have these posts labeled only by the author's name. When I see that label, I have no idea if I'm going to get a book review, interview, spotlight post, or wish list post. I don't want to waste my time clicking on a number of author links in the hopes I'll find what I want, so I'll likely give up and move on to the next blog in my reader.

Another bad choice is to have a label that isn't clear. "Authors in the wild" is cute, but what does it mean? Will all your visitors know that this is the link to your author events posts?

When thinking about how to label your posts, always remember that they guide your readers to the content of your blog. You want this to be as easy as possible for your visitors.

How to Label?

Ah, well, this is up to you. If you are totally confused, do some blog hopping and look at different bloggers' labels or tags. What do you like, what do you dislike? Here are just a couple of types of posts and a few ways to approach your labeling.

  • Review posts: Some people add a label for every author reviewed on their blog. This can be useful, but you can end up with hundreds of labels for which there is only one post. Some people label their reviews by genre and medium, which is almost always a good idea. You might want to think about labeling reviews by year of review or year of publication.
  • Memes/Awards: You can label your meme posts by the meme's title. This is helpful to your readers, who might remember you had an interesting book in a Mailbox Monday or a Friday Finds. If your meme post is also a review or opinion post, it might be a good idea to give it additional labels so that visitors who usually skip memes won't miss something good.
  • Opinions/Conversations: Opinion posts and conversation starters should be clearly labeled because these are just the types of posts that people revisit. They think, "Didn't I see a good post about the importance of using the library on this blog last year?" If they find the label "library" in your label list, they'll soon find the post they want.
How Labels Can Work with Tabs

I don't use author names or book titles in my labels because I don't want a lot of labels that cover only one post. Instead, I have tabs at the top of my blog that direct readers to my reviews by author, title, and genre. This saves me from creating a lot of labels.

On the other hand, I failed to take this to its final step: One of my goals this Bloggiesta is to label my tabbed pages (with "reviews by author," for example), so visitors who don't see the tabs can find the list by checking out my labels gadget.

Your Mini-Challenge

I admit that I created this mini-challenge because I really need to clean up my own labels. In fact, this should be my main Bloggiesta task. I have published about 200 new posts since the last Bloggiesta, and I really should review each and every one!

You might not want to examine every post, but you really should think about the state of your labels. Ask yourself if they are currently useful and how they could be better. So here's the deal:
  1. Set and state a goal (fix labels on all posts, fix labels on review posts, set up labels for the second half of 2010)
  2. Meet goal
  3. Blog about this mini-challenge (in a separate post or as part a Bloggiesta progress post or in your wrap-up Bloggiesta post)
  4. Come back here leave the link to that post in Mr. Linky
If you leave a link in Mr. Linky, you'll be eligible for a great bookish prize.

A Little Help

If you are using Blogger then you have access to a label gadget. Open it up, look at your options, and see if you have the settings the way you want them to be. Here are four links with some advice on using and editing labels:
If you are using Wordpress then you have both categories and tags. I don't use Wordpress, so I can't give you technical advice, but I can direct you to some articles that explain the difference between the two. Categories are larger (reviews) and tags are specific (historical fiction, fantasy). Here are four links that should offer help:
Good luck and remember that everything you do during Bloggiesta will benefit your blog and your readers. Be sure come back to Mr. Linky so you'll be eligible for a prize! (Not sure what the prize will be, but it'll be international.)


Miss Remmers 6/10/10, 10:09 PM  

Thanks for posting this early! I am leaving out of town tomorrow but I was able to participate in this mini-challenge! I took a couple hours and labeled every single post!

Great mini-challenge and good luck to everyone else!

Rikki 6/11/10, 4:12 PM  

Thanks for this little reminder about tags. Did it and feel better already.

Dorte H 6/11/10, 4:18 PM  

I agree that labels are important. I do my best, and I don´t think I am bad at it either, but my cloud of labels grows alarmingly every month because I include the names of the authors I have reviewed. I can´t see there is any way around it, though, as writers are so important to me.

Charlotte 6/11/10, 6:17 PM  

I'm inspired to revisit my own labels now--thanks!

Josette 6/11/10, 11:40 PM  

Great post and tips on how to use labels! The labels and tags really are important on a blog. :)

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 6/12/10, 6:42 AM  

I love this post. I might have to lock it up somewhere so that it won't get away from me. As much as I know what categories and tags are, it's still so hard to keep them straight, and they always become muddled. I have to work on them every time.

Becky 6/12/10, 5:40 PM  

I created a system for my labels last year, but it's interesting how things change. I definitely need to make my labels a priority today!

Kathleen 6/14/10, 11:00 PM  

Well I did this during Bloggiesta but didn't check most of the old mini challenges because I did them all in January. Oops, could have been eligble.

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