A lot of people wonder how they can create a Breakout Blog that will help build platform and connect them to their audience. This series on Blogging Tips looks at ways to maximize blog performance so they can reach these goals.
Thought I’d chime in with another very simple blog tip…using your Labels (in blogger) and Tags/Categories (in Word Press). These are the little content tags you can attach to posts and display in your sidebar.
Some people have theirs show up as a word cloud, where the most blogged about topics have a larger font. Others use a list format, where each blog label has a number next to it, showing how often the topic is mentioned.
Other blogs do not use tags for their posts. This is a shame, because using labels is a great way to keep visitors at your blog!
Let’s look at an example: a new visitor comes to your blog. They read your current post, maybe comment, and now want to see what other topics you like to explore. Sure, they can see the last few posts, but are these representative of the best your blog has to offer? Will a user have time to search for a keyword, hoping something they need pops up?
Now, take this same visitor, only this time they can view topic labels in your sidebar. Right away, the tags tell them exactly what you blog about. If a label catches their eye, you can bet they’re going to click on it and read a few more posts.
Labels showcase your CONTENT, acting as a GATEWAY to your blog’s older entries.
Some people assume a post archive works as a way to find those older posts. The truth is, knowing you posted 12 times in January doesn’t help me much. If I’m in a time crunch, I won’t have time to search your blog. I’ll simply move on.
So, bottom line? Use Labels. They are easy enough to add to your posts, and you should see an option to do so in your blog settings. In Blogger, you go to Design, then Blog Posts, edit and then, tick off ‘add labels‘. In WordPress, your Category & Tag widgets are on the right when you write a post, and you can add news ones whenever you like. Or add a widget that displays your most popular posts. Either way, visitors will have a road map to your best content!
The second bottom line is this: Use Labels Effectively. Try to create labels that are specific and allow you to group several posts together. Using bizarre or random labels might seem like a fun way to categorize posts, but they can make it hard to search your blog for specific content. As well, you end up with way too many tags, which bloats your sidebar and makes it harder to search. Fun tags are fine, in moderation.
Don’t be afraid to give a post several labels or tags. Maybe your post is about description, drafting and voice. Great! These are all concrete labels that will help your readers find exactly what they need, and may also give them more ideas on how your advice can help them. 🙂
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Great advice. I’ve used an archive in the past and it definitely makes searching for topics a lot more difficult. The word cloud gives a quick at-a-glance index for what you’ve blogged about. And any seo company will tell you that one of the most effective ways to beef up your serp, is to get people linking within your site once they are there. Thanks
Being a perfectionist librarian, I’m slightly fussy about my labels and how I use them 😀 I’ve already had to reformat them all a couple of times. Here’s hoping I’ve got the right format now. LOL.
Leslie Rose says
Okay, I’m rolling up my sleeves and diving into labels. You’ve inspired me with great points.
Julia Smith says
Thanks for the reminder.
I am finally switching to WordPress and working with someone to figure it out professionally. I’m sure you’ve researched this as far as SEO and meta tags etc. Curious to hear your opinion on this Angela.
I just started a blog and between this post and a couple of others specifically GIVING DIRECTIONS I am so much less intimidated by the process!
(I realize I am a bit late on this but the blogosphere is a bit overwhelming until you find your way around.)
Angela Ackerman says
Holly, sorry I blew it for you, but thanks so much for mentioning SEO. I hope you post on that (let me know?) because I would really like to understand it better in laymen terms, and be advised on how to identify my own keywords without having to subscribe to an expensive service to do so.
EEV, glad you ditched your word verification. I have to say, I’ve only come across maybe two blog owners who have said spam still gets through and they had to slap the WV back on. We are all so busy, with many blogs we want to visit, so anything a blog owner can do to attract visitors is a good thing!
Karen, thanks for adding our button! I totally get a thrill when I find it somewhere.
I really appreciate everyone’s support. You guys are just so great and kind to us!
Cynthia Chapman Willis says
You are so right and I really needed to be reminded about using labels. I always come away with great advice and information when I visit–Thank you!
Matthew MacNish says
LOVE THIS! Great advice Angela.
Personally I have to go with the word cloud version, because all the labels I’ve only used once would make my blog 50 feet long. I have mine set up to show every label I’ve used at least twice.
Terri Tiffany says
Excellent point! I have not done this and will start:)
Kelly Hashway says
I agree. I don’t see the point in just posting archives. That doesn’t tell me what the posts are about, and let’s face it, we visit a lot of blogs and need to navigate quickly. No time to skim through them all to find one we like. Labels make it so much easier to get right to what we want to read.
Plus, the easier your site is to use the more people are going to want to come back to it.
Mary Witzl says
I LOVE how easy it is to comment on your blog now! No nonsense with a random code to type in, no waiting around to see if I’ve got it right.
You’re obviously up to speed on these things. If you’re ever in Scotland, come and teach me!
Mary Witzl says
I’m awful at sorting out how to present things. If I can catch one of my kids, I can usually bribe them to help me figure something out. But whenever someone tells me something is easy, I wonder if they know what I’m dealing with. They can’t if they think I find it easy! ;o)
Thanks for the tips. I do use labels, but I guess I haven’ done the tag-cloud thing yet! Time to remedy that.
Good advice. I’ve been a conscientious (and hopefully thoughtful) labeller since day one on my blog, because I appreciate it when I see well-thought-out labels on other blogs.
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I’ve been using the labels since the start of my blog, and I’d love to put up some sort of gadget word cloud, but I don’t feel I have enough posts to justify it yet. I’m still trying to figure a nice template that reflects my writing.
But I gotta give you that: the last blog tip you gave me (eliminate word verification from comments) does increase comments – Thanks! But noticing it made me extremely annoyed by word verification when I stumble upon it! 😉
That’s a really good point, actually. I might just go and do that on mine now.
Shooting Stars Mag says
That is a good idea. I think I’ve been blogging for too long to have set labels for some of my posts in the beginning. I do like word clouds. I’ve never searched a blog this way…but it’s an interesting tip I should try.
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Jaleh D says
I’m already in the process of trying to make my labels less unwieldy. Way too many, but I don’t want to prune willy nilly either. It’s tough to organize them better.
Margo Lerwill says
I’ve been including labels (mostly), but I hadn’t realized the importance of actually doing anything with them. That was a total brain blip. Glad you posted this!
Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about that. Good idea!
Karen Lange says
I’ve actually been meaning to add this feature to my blog. Thanks for reminding me! BTW – added your button to my blog. 🙂
Holly Ruggiero says
Well poo, I was writing up a post on this exact topic!
There were a few other things I was going to point out too.
The labels also help with SEO (search engine optimization).
You can specify which tags you want to show up in your sidebar. For example, on my gem post I added the mineral labels (like silicate) to my post’s labels so you could click it and see other like minerals. However, I did not put it in my sidebar for the reason you said. I didn’t want to bloat it or clutter it with labels most people won’t be interested in. I just let the main topics show.
Okay, I’m now off the come up with a new post. 🙂
Jeff King says
I had no clue about this, thx for the tip.
Sierra Gardner says
Great post Angela! I always find labels really helpful on other websites so I’ve tried to make mine accessible. I also go through occasionally and organize.
Corey Schwartz says
Ugh! You’re right… I have GOT to start using labels!
Super tips! I like to keep my labels small in number. Easier to organize.
When I first started blogging, I used labels but more for fun, I think. I really didn’t understand the purpose. Since then, I’ve revamped my labels and definitely try to categorize them more simply and distinctly.
Laurel Garver says
I get a little label crazy at times, and I sometimes go into archives to add even more labels to existing posts when I think up a clever new one. Helping readers get to the stuff they want is the goal, and I don’t think anyone minds the long laundry list of topics in my sidebar. Or at least no one has complained yet. 🙂
The Golden Eagle says
I’ve been guilty of using too many labels–I know I should take out the ones I’ve only used once or twice.
Pk Hrezo says
Good point! I think i need to get one of these going on my blog.
Lenny Lee* says
hi miss angela! wow that a really good tip. i got lables but their pretty general like i use one that just says writing stuff. now im thinking could need to say more on it like writing stuff/dialog. something like that. same for my other ones. it could be easy to fix. thanks for a cool idea.
…hugs from lenny
Lisa Gail Green says
Yet another great tip that I wish I’d understood earlier! 😀 But what I do have is the new tool on the sidebar that shows your most popular posts. Which I perceive to be those of greatest value to my readers. Yes, some pretty good posts probably got lost from long ago, but at least I can move forward better.
Lindsay N. Currie says
Ugh, you’ve found one of my weakest spots. Will it make you want to claw your eyes out to know that I have not used ANY labels? So, so horrible. I know. Thanks for the post, it’s really helpful!
Used to do this, but wasn’t sure if it mattered. You’ve convinced me to add it again. 😉
Alicia Gregoire says
Great post. I have to be more effective in my label usage.
Great post! Labels do tend to help new readers stick around longer.
Bethany Elizabeth says
Great idea! I need to do some editing on the labels I used when I just started blogging – they make no sense. Then maybe get a word cloud. 🙂
Laura Pauling says
Great advice. I need to do some spring cleaning on my sidebar and get rid of some labels and consolidate others.