tags Most blogs put their posts into various categories, and then list the categories in the sidebar. It’s the done thing.

But how useful are categories really? Would tags be more helpful for your readers?

Few Categories vs. Many Tags

Categories are most effective when there’s a small number of them. The small list is easily digestible by a reader and organizes your blog into its major sections.

A longer list is more confusing for a reader. e.g. If you came here looking for a post on adding Gravatars to WordPress, and saw both a “Comments” category and a “WordPress” category, which would you try?

A longer list also takes up more space in your sidebar, adding clutter to the design. Few things look worse in your sidebar than an overly long list of links.

You can have as many tags as you like. There is no need to show all the tags on one page, the most popular ones can be highlighted in a larger font, and most importantly, the Gravatars post will be tagged with both “Comments” and “WordPress.”

The Categories Are Static

The way to keep your list of categories small is to not add new categories. This leaves little room for your blog to evolve though. The list of categories you first come up with is largely the list you’re stuck with.

If you get that list wrong, you could well end up with the situation we have here, where the vast majority of the posts end up in just 2 or 3 of the categories, and other categories have next to none (Advertising has 2!).

Tags can change as needs be. You can add more, and stop using old ones. Your blog can evolve and change, and if one tag starts to get too many posts, you can create more specific tags to add to it.

How To Make The Change

If you don’t have the category as part of your permalinks, then there’s no hassle for you. Just stop listing the categories in your sidebar and around your post, and start listing the tags instead.

If the category is part of your permalinks however, you need to install a plugin that will redirect all links from your old permalink structure, to your new one. The danger with this is that you can never uninstall that plugin, or Google will accuse you of duplicate content (As both permalinks will show the article).

Categories here on Pro Blog Design are near useless. They were poorly thought out and no longer helpful for finding posts, so I have to fix them. What are they like on your blog?

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