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Website Architecture Strategy

Organize Your Blog Content with Taxonomies

November 16, 2017

Adding a blog to your website, or maintaining one that is separate from it is much more than merely putting words on a screen. Just like any other website, it must include some type of architecture; otherwise, it may be too difficult to navigate, despite any amount of site and blog planning on your part.

A well-written blog is a must for any online presence, but many website owners do not realize that well-written means more than your choice of vocabulary. Blog content is designed to be read, and a well-written blog means an entire site that is easy to read. Therefore, to appeal to readers and be liked by search engines, your content must be well organized. Thankfully, seo friendly blog content is easy when you use taxonomies.

Here’s how you can use taxonomies to organize blog content on your site.

How to organize blog content using taxonomies

Categories and tags are common taxonomy types utilized by bloggers to make their content-rich sites organized and engaging. While many experienced bloggers know how to organize blog content using categories and tags, few understand their differences and how they should be used. This often puts the pressure on site owners and information architects to sort through and group content so that it is both discoverable and not overwhelming to readers.

Content that does not utilize taxonomies is hard to navigate through and often causes frustration for readers. Additionally, when taxonomies are not used to organize blog content, users often miss out on valuable related content – simply because they did not know it was there. By using taxonomies, site owners can make visiting their blog a pleasant experience, that also leads to more site engagement overall.

Group them with categories

The first step to organizing blog content is grouping posts and articles into categories. Categories represent a broader sense of organization – such as an overview of the major theme, or writings by a specific contributor. They help the reader quickly preview which topics will be discussed on your blog.

Blog categories help readers quickly find large groups of articles based on groupings that make sense to them; therefore, they should be kept relatively broad. Choose categories based on the trends you see in the content. Does your blog include contributions from many authors? Perhaps dedicating a category to each author may make sense.

Sometimes, however, recognizing potential blog categories isn’t straightforward. In these cases, it makes sense to use user personas. If your site has multiple user personas, group your content based on what might be interesting to each one. For example, a cooking blog may include categories for bakers, grillers, and those that prefer to make casseroles as a method of engaging a variety of user personas.

Category Best Practices

  •         Only 1 category per article
  •         Group by broad topics such as theme, content type or user persona

Connect them with tags

Once your blog categories are created, it’s time to focus on the blog tags. Tags help connect similar content so that it is discoverable by readers. Discovery is key on blog sites because, by default, content is often organized in chronological order – and this can hinder the discovery of useful related blogs if that related blog was posted months prior.

Blog tags focus on the similarities in otherwise separate pieces of content. Using the previous example of a cooking blog, appropriate tags may include ingredient types or diets. Whereas the vegetarian griller may not click on the casserole category, they may be interested in a vegetarian casserole recipe. However, on a blog that only uses categories, they may not have bothered to look for it.

Tags are not as broad as categories, but they too should be kept general so that they can be relevant to more than one article. The great thing about blog tags is that, unlike categories, an article is not limited to one. In fact, feel free to add up to four – as long as they are relevant.

The idea behind using blog tags is finding logical connections between otherwise unrelated posts. Since this type of taxonomy is used to connect articles to other similar articles, looking for related concepts within each article will encourage readers to click through to content that may not be in the same category.

Tags Best Practices

  •         No more than 4 tags per article
  •         Every tag should link to at least two articles

More on taxonomies

Nowadays, many blogs include more than blog posts and articles. Even a traditional blog, may have what is called custom post types that can include portfolios, products, and reviews. These hybrid blogs can be tricky to organize using standard taxonomy because, from the information architecture point of view, you want to separate these different content types, and depending on the size of the site, categories and tags may not be enough.

This is when you’d want to consider using custom taxonomies when working with CMS platforms. Custom taxonomies help organize blog content that wouldn’t otherwise fit into your created categories or themes. They are used to group blog content that isn’t necessarily articles or posts, such as portfolio examples or products. Custom taxonomies can be useful for making a content-heavy site well organized and accessible.

Don’t get too detailed

When you have a lot of content, it can be tempting to start using subcategories and folders. Generally, you should resist this urge. While it is true that blog taxonomies help readers discover new content, you don’t want to overdo it. Too many options are never a good thing (for humans or Google bots), and you risk leaving the user with confusion as to what the blog site is about.

Of course, if you have a very large site, you should use these detailed levels of taxonomies, but it should not be your first option. It is a much better idea to review your current choice of categories and consider creating ones that are slightly more specific.

Taxonomies and Sitemaps

To get the most out of your taxonomies, be sure to include your categories in your XML sitemap. Create individual pages, such as category archive pages to help site visitors quickly find every article in a particular blog category. In terms of content on these pages, a few descriptive words are often enough to give the reader an idea into what the category includes.

SEO and blog taxonomies

So far, we’ve been discussing how utilizing blog categories and blog tags can make your site more user-friendly and encourage content discoverability, but it also impacts SEO. Well organized content is easier to crawl by search engines because it is much easier for bots to determine what the content is about. However, keywords are the best way to optimize blog content for search engines, and how you use taxonomies can impact those as well.

Whereas categories represent logical groupings, and tags represent topics discussed, keywords represent the topics users are looking to find. Any blog that aims to be discovered by new users must not only consider their use of categories and tags, they must also think about their keywords.

Keywords differ from taxonomy because their focus isn’t on organizing blog content, it is on labeling it. This is a substantial difference because it means keywords must be unique. Whereas it is good practice to have multiple articles share a category or tag, it is not a good idea to have two articles share keywords.

SEO tips for blog content

As mentioned before, less is more when it comes to taxonomy, and SEO is no exception. Therefore, you should limit the use of subcategories and subfolders if at all possible when SEO – optimizing your blog. Additionally, you should include your taxonomies in your XML sitemap. If you do, your category pages could potentially rank in search engines alongside individual pages. Learn more about optimizing category pages in this Yoast SEO article.

It goes without saying that proper keyword selection is one of the best ways to improve the SEO of your blog content. You want to choose keywords that align with the subject of the article or post, but you also want to select keywords that people are searching for. Placement also matters. Once you have chosen your keyword, use it within your copy, but also include it in the URL.

Why too much taxonomy is a bad thing

Keyword placement is the primary reason why you do not want to overdo it with subcategories and folders. Besides the dreaded information overload, using subcategories can directly impact the effectiveness of your SEO due to URL placement. The further left that a keyword is in the site address, the better chances of that keyword being crawled.

Subcategories add words to your URL and unfortunately when you use them, you push that keyword further to the right. This subtle change can have a significant impact on your selected keyword or keywords. In many cases, the organization gained by being so detailed is not worth the SEO loss.

Thanks to taxonomies it is easy to organize blog content just as you would any other web content. Plus, once you consider how it benefits SEO and the user experience, it sort of becomes a necessity.

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