Have you been taking this content marketing 101 journey with me?
I hope so because purposeful content that's created with organized structure will help you educate your readers as you build relationships with them. This is the basis for growing your business!
Here's what we've covered so far:
Today we're going to discuss a topic that many people don't give enough thought to in the early stages of their blog - and this lack of planning can create a real headache down the road for writers and readers alike!
Why You Need Blog Categories + Tags
You need categories because:
- They provide structure for your content strategy.
- They are the backbone of your editorial calendar.
- They help readers find resources they desire.
- They enable you to organize past content in engaging ways.
Think of your blog like a dresser and your categories like the drawers.
I don't know about you but I have one dresser in my bedroom.
One dresser is plenty. It organizes what I need so I can easily find things. Plus, it's not overly huge or cumbersome, so navigating around it is simple.
Not to get personal, but I in my dresser I have six drawers. Each drawer holds a category of clothing:
While it's true I have an affinity for colorful socks, I don't have a separate drawer for each group of colors. Just socks. All socks - no matter their height or color - go in that drawer. It's simple that way.
Your blog categories work the same way. You don't need a gazillion of them. That would be too difficult to manage and too confusing to navigate. For simplicity, you just need a few.
How to choose categories for your blog:
First thing's first. You need to brainstorm a list of topic ideas that include all the questions your audience is asking. Your goal is to be helpful, relevant, and meaningfully unique compared to others in your industry.
Each blog post is the equivalent of going on a date with your readers, so let the relationship (and trust) build naturally. Empower your readers to feel increasingly confident and educated as they become interested in what you do or as they continue to research their options. There's no need to be pushy or constantly promoting.
Make it your goal to stop worrying about selling and start focusing on creating connection and being helpful.
Step 1 // Bring your brain chatter into the light of day, where you can see it.
Step 2 // Once you have a big, messy list - look through it to find the themes.
Perhaps take some highlighters and give all your ideas that relate to a similar (but general) topic a particular color.
After dumping all my brain chatter out onto paper, I found themes running through my ideas.
Step 3 // Name your categories.
Once you've found your themes or categories, you can start to think of them like dresser drawers for the articles you'll write on your blog. Give each category a name and stick with a consistent naming pattern. For example most of my categories have three words to them:
- Squarespace How-To's
- Creating Your Content
- Resources I Recommend
- Growing Your List
- Soulful Entrepreneur Series
- Mindset + Focus
- Nuts + Bolts
- DIY Branding + Design
- Behind The Scenes
Step 4 // Keep your category list handy so you can refer to it as you field new content ideas.
If a content idea pops into your head, consult your category list to see where it fits. If it's not a good fit for any of your categories, perhaps your idea isn't quite aligned with the the purpose of your blog (which is to help your readers become more knowledgable about your topic and confident in your expertise). Try to tweak the idea so it works within the structure you created or drop it. Don't let yourself venture waaay out into left field. You'll dilute your brand and confuse your readers.
Your category list is the structure for your content strategy.
I'm not saying you can't add more categories along your way. You can. But do so very selectively. Soulful, creative people need simple structure. We just do. Your readers do too.
Step 5 // Don't forget to properly organize your post on the backend of your blog.
When it comes to displaying the categories on your site, Squarespace gives you a few engaging options. This is nice because your content doesn't need to live in a sad chronology graveyard. Instead you can display past posts as relevant and engaging resources just waiting to offer useful information to your readers!
What about tags and do you need them?
Oh the lovely tag debate. Some experts say they are good for SEO and others say they no longer matter.
Here's what I say: use tags as a way to further organize the content on your blog.
Remember my sock drawer with all the colorful socks? When I open my sock drawer and want to quickly find my turquoise pair, it's easy enough to do because I sorted my socks and put similar colors together in small baskets.
That's what tags are. Subcategories. Like blue socks.
The way I decide up upon tags is like this: I pull specific keywords out of my copy and add them as tags for a post. If the experts in the tags don't matter camp are right, at the very least I've further organized my content which makes it easily searchable on my site. And if the tags do matter experts are right, I've highlighted keywords from my post for the Google bots.
Another easy-to-understand approach to categories and tags is...
"Categories are like aisles in a grocery store and tags are like ingredients in the various different foods. Tags (ingredients) link together all of your posts (food items) across your categories (aisles)." - John Haydon
Tags are added and selected right above the categories section on your Squarespace site.
If you already have a blog and need to go back and set up your categories or streamline them, that's super do-able. Just follow my process above. Instead of brainstorming new topics, comb through your published posts to find the themes.
If you're just getting started with your blog, setting up your category system right away creates structure for your content. It also becomes the backbone of your editorial calendar - which is an awesome tool to help you avoid writing burnout. To build trust, consistency is key. Your editorial calendar will get you through those low times when you become disenchanted with your blog (which happens to all of us and is completely normal).
I'll share my editorial calendar with you next week!