Tech Talk / Websites

Tagging & subcategories: organizing online content

A sample of a tag cloud

A sample of a tag cloud

A major problem with any news site is the search engine. If users have troubles locating a specific story that isn’t a few clicks away, chances are they won’t revisit your site.

So what’s the best way to please your visitors who want to find that story that never appeared on the front page? The answer is tags.

The second best search engine, Youtube, uses the system of tags. Look at any video, the more hits/pageviews, the more diverse the tags are. But tagging can be a time killer. Here are some steps you can take to save time on tagging and make your tags more efficient.

  • Have the writer come up with the tags. They will know the story best.
  • Have generic tags like “football” or “Politics” at your disposal.
  • Tag the categories the post falls in as well.
  • Tag the sources- if a visitor is looking for a specific quote, it will make that quote easier to find.
  • For multimedia have five or six generic tags like “video” or the name of your site.

A great example of a publication that tags well is The Whit Online. Check out some of their posts to see how it’s done.

Curious as to how your site looks as a cloud of tags? Check out some WordPress widgets that deliver tags in a flashy, user friendly view. Want to try out a single post, then just put in your posts URL here.

But tagging still takes time and getting your writers to sum up a story in 10-15 nouns can be nerve-wracking. Subcategories offer a little less efficiency than tags, but save time and set up a strong hierarchy.

If you don’t have the time or the patience to tag every single story that is posted to your news site, be as descriptive as possible with subcategories. Don’t just limit your category names to “Basketball.” If your site covers women’s and men’s teams, branch the subcategories farther out.

Remember,  Internet users like information at their fingertips. Both of these functionalities of WordPress offer this power, but if you have the time and the manpower, go with both.