21 January 2011

Bloggiesta: Labels / Tags Mini-Challenge

I am obsessed with my label system, I admit it. And thus my favorite Bloggiesta task is to work on cleaning up my labels. And so I've become the traditional labels/tags mini-challenge host.

This post has been revised from previous Bloggiesta events, so even if you've done this challenge before, you might want to skim through.

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 (eBook, audiobook, print), which is almost always a good idea. You might want to think about labeling reviews by year of review or year of publication.
  • Personal style/advocacy: You can use your labels and tags to help promote your blog's viewpoint or strengths. For example, if you like to bring attention to debut authors then you should have label that will make it easy for your readers to find that content. In some cases, you might want to consider adding more information to your labels, such as "Debut Author - 2011" or "Indie Bookstores - Detroit." If you are on Wordpress, you can use your tags and categories in a similar manner.
  • 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 a tab at the top of my blog that direct readers to my reviews by title. I am in process of adding pages (with links in the sidebar) to my reviews by genre and author. These lists save me from creating a lot of labels.

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 many new posts and have taken my blog in new directions since the last Bloggiesta, and I really should review each and every one post and all my labels!

You might not want to examine every post on your blog, 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 all 2011 posts)
  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.)


Kim 1/21/11, 1:40 AM  

I am planning on doing this--how timely as I have just begun to really pay attention to my labels and be unhappy with them! Thanks for the links also.

serendipity_viv 1/21/11, 5:44 AM  

Thanks for this post Beth. I didn't know Blogger had a label gadget. Although I am not taking part this weekend, I will definitely look into using this and changing things around.

Lynne Perednia 1/21/11, 8:14 AM  

Figuring out how to tab might be my best bet. Then the reviews could be found by genre more easily.

Thanks. You're always coming up with terrific ideas.

Suzanne Yester 1/21/11, 8:45 AM  

Love the ideal of a tab on top to direct readers to all the reviews! Thanks for the tip and for all the links! This will be one of the things I'm going to work on this weekend for Bloggiesta!

Unknown 1/21/11, 9:05 AM  

I've been trying to decide which way to best sort my reviews.

I'd love to figure out how to do drop-down menus in Blogger without having to hire someone, lol.

Beth F 1/21/11, 9:23 AM  

Barbara, the site I used to create a drop-down menu for my labels is this: http://www.bloggerbuster.com

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/21/11, 10:29 AM  

Thank you for all of the wonderful advice! XO

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 1/21/11, 10:59 AM  

Excellent advice. It's so frustrating when I visit a blog and can't find my way around because the labels don't make sense (to me anyway).

kayerj 1/21/11, 11:18 AM  

Very interesting, thanks for the tips. I'm not participating this weekend but I recently combined my book review blog with my main blog and am still figuring out labels and such. This information helps. For some reason I can't get the search gadget from google to work on my blog. It worked on my book review blog but I'm having trouble on the main blog. Any ideas?

Beth F 1/21/11, 11:24 AM  

Kaye: sadly that seems to be "a known issue" -- one work around is to get a third-party widget. I've done a bit of research because the search engine is inconsistent on the Audiobook Jukebox site. But I haven't had the time to play with around with a new search engine.

Tribute Books 1/21/11, 11:31 AM  

I have to admit labels get on my nerves. I don't know why, but when I come to the point before publishing a blog post and have to do the labels my heart sinks.

I never know if I'm hitting the mark or veering off into left field.

Thanks for the tips - they are a big help!

Best wishes,
Tribute Books

Dorte H 1/21/11, 3:03 PM  

You are right that labels are important, and if they are not used consistently, the may just be confusing. So far labels with authors´ names works for me, but I can see that in a year or two it may be necessary to add the year I reviewed them.

Right now I am quite proud of the fact that I found out how to add pages to my blog - one step at the time.

Jennifer 1/21/11, 3:22 PM  

Reading through this was very helpful. I can totally see how important label are. Before, I didn't really know how to use my tags/categories, but now I think I might be able to clean them up and actually make them useful for my readers.

Unknown 1/21/11, 5:38 PM  

Thank you for that link, Beth!

I managed to get a big head start today. I got rid of my label page author names and put up a tabbed page with an alphabetical list of reviews/links, then did a drop-down box for labels.

I still want to add dates reviewed by the book's title maybe..haven't decided on that one.

(I should note that I have less than a hundred reviews to mess with, so this isn't a truckload of work like most people's blogs)

Nise' 1/21/11, 6:05 PM  

Reorganizing my labels is one of my goals this weekend. I created a google form to help with deciding what to add. Looking to add a drop down label feature in my sidebar as well. I just realized that I have my posts labeled, but have nowhere on the blog to search using the label! Duh..I am blonder than I pay to be.

Kerrie 1/21/11, 9:01 PM  

Beth - I'd like to add tabs similar to those you have on your blog
They each seem to be separate posts so I guess they are "pages"
I haven't worked out how to do that yet. Canm you point me to somewhere that gives a simple step by step on how to do it?
Is it possible to base a tab on a label?

Beth F 1/21/11, 9:28 PM  

Kerrie: I made my tabs by following directions here: http://bloggeruniversity.blogspot.com/2008/03/tab-menu-for-your-very-own.html

This was before Blogger allowed "pages" so the tabs link to posts that I dated to the month before I started my blog.

Unknown 1/21/11, 10:25 PM  

Kerrie, this is a really, really good tutorial about how to turn your gadgets into pages (you can make an archive, label, etc.) that go on your tab bar.


I used this to originally put my labels page on my tab list (took it down to make the drop-down menu).

He has some other really, really good tweaks. He helps me out a lot in the Blogger help forums because I'm a ditz a lot of the time. :)

Madigan Mirza 1/23/11, 6:05 AM  

I've been fine-tuning some of my labels all weekend - getting rid of lots of "orphan labels"

I'll post about it on my Bloggiesta wrap-up post on Monday.

BURIED IN BOOKS 1/23/11, 5:02 PM  

YOU ROCK!!! Thanks to your Blogger links for help, I used the bottom one the top one was slow to load and had to many hoops to jump through, I labeled everything and made my cloud!!! I am done with that! I can't believe it. Now, I just have to get into the habit of doing it!

Heather (your BBAW interview partner)

Nicola O. 1/23/11, 7:07 PM  

Definitely some food for thought here, especially regarding the one-time labels. I really want to keep all the reviews labeled for authors, even if they only show up once...

Also, I'm using blogger and I'm very jealous of the two-tiered organization available on Wordpress.

I did quite a bit of research on things one can do on Blogger and found some with potential. Ultimately though, I left things as-is at my blog -- waiting for that two-tier expandable widget!

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