I wrote a post here about the difference between categories and tags but, when I reviewed it this week, I found that it’s incomplete. So here’s an update.
In that post I talked about categories being like filing cabinets, containing all your posts on a given subject area.
What I didn’t say, and should have, is that tags are like folders within the filing cabinet.
So, if they’re used properly, they will link together articles that are more closely related to each other, within the broader subject of your category.
For example, I have a category on this site called Internet Marketing. Within this category I’ve written posts on Social Network Marketing, Niche Analysis, PPC campaigns and a number of other subjects.
If I had used my tags properly I would be able to link together all the posts on (for example) Social Network Marketing.
So then anyone reading an article on Social Network Marketing would be able to easily find related articles on it by clicking on the ‘social network marketing’ tag at the foot of the article.
Unfortunately I didn’t do that, so now I have to go through all my articles and edit the tags to improve their focus and consistency. 🙁
It’s not really a defence, but the fact is I’ve only just started displaying the tags used on each article. Prior to that I wasn’t displaying them, so I didn’t appreciate the benefits of re-using existing tags on new articles to link them more closely together.
The upside is: I only have around 160 articles on this site. Imagine if I had several thousand. It would take me years to update them all. 🙂
So the moral of the story is this: re-use existing tags on new articles (where it’s appropriate) to link them more closely together in sub-groups within their categories.
This will make it easier for your readers to find more information on the subject they’re interested in – keeping them on your site for longer.
And what’s good for your readers is generally good for the search engines too.