Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Blog and Website Tips

Many people who have blogs do not use the tags feature correctly, and this causes problems for people who want to read the blog. Many blogs attach three or more different tags to every single post. The problem with using lots of different phrases as tags is that it creates a huge list of tags which is impossible for blog readers to navigate. That is, if the blog owner even has the list of tags displayed in the blog.

This brings me to a second problem. Many blog owners use lots of tags but the blog does not have the list of tags displayed in the sidebar. How can blog readers use the tags if they are not displayed anywhere?

I followed a link today to a blog which is used to promote the seller's online store. The blog owner used three tags at the end of a post. The blog does not have a list of tags, so the tags mean nothing. I assume that the blog owner is using the tags as keywords. Fine, but how does that help readers of the blog? The keywords should be part of the text of the blog post, not in the tags.

Even worse, the blog I visited does not have links to posts by date, year, or anything else. The only way to navigate the blog is to randomly click on the tags at the bottom of blog posts that appear on the main page in order to get to the other posts with that tag, and then proceed in the same fashion.

I was interested enough in the one blog post to want to see what else is in the blog, but the blog owner has created no easy means to navigate the blog. Therefore, I will not visit the blog again.

Since many people do not understand what tags actually are and how to use them, their blogs are difficult or impossible to navigate. Tags are actually categories for sorting the blog posts, like the names written on file folders in a file cabinet. On Blogger, tags are called "labels," and the list of labels needs to be added to the sidebar of the blog.

While I don't have my blog posts categorized in the most optimal fashion, readers generally know what to expect when they click on the tags (or labels) that appear in the right sidebar of this blog.

My tags are:

* Barbara Ann Series (3)
* Betty Gordon (14)
* Beverly Gray (17)
* Billie Bradley (15)
* Blythe Girls (1)
* Bonanza (31)
* Bonanzle (111)
* Book Buying Information (23)
* Book Hunting (15)
* Book Selling Information (4)
* Brownie Scouts (5)
* Ceramic Christmas Trees (4)
* Chalet School (8)
* Closed Polls (3)
* Clues to Collecting Q/A (7)
* Connie Blair (3)
* CPSIA (5)
* Dana Girls (9)
* eBay Buying Problems (25)
* eBay Commentary (121)
* eBay Prices (40)
* eBay Selling Problems (9)
* eBay Selling Tips (5)
* eBay's Star Ratings (21)
* eCrater (1)
* Fablehaven (2)
* Girl Scouts Lavell (11)
* Grace Harlowe (10)
* Grosset and Dunlap (6)
* Harriet Pyne Grove (14)
* Judy Bolton (16)
* Kay Tracey (1)
* Kit Hunter (3)
* Library Editions (3)
* Linda Carlton (9)
* Mildred Wirt Benson (13)
* Miscellaneous (18)
* Miscellaneous Series (16)
* Nancy Drew (65)
* Nancy Drew Anomalies (19)
* Nancy Drew Buying Tips (41)
* Nancy Drew Games (6)
* Nicholas Flamel (2)
* Outdoor Girls (4)
* Penny Parker (3)
* Percy Jackson (6)
* Riddle Club Series (2)
* Ruth Fielding (9)
* Series Book Websites (4)
* Site Statistics (4)
* Sweet Valley High (2)
* Tapestry Series (2)
* Trixie Belden (5)
* Twilight Saga (7)
* Twitter (5)

I have tried to minimize the instances in which I use more than one tag for a single blog post. I want the categories not to have a lot of repetition. I want readers to be able to click on a category and know exactly what topics will be found within.

This blog has nearly 750 posts. Adding the numbers given in the tag categories together, it appears that I have 808 posts. This means that I have used more than one tag on possibly as many as 60 posts. I have kept double tagging to a minimum. With around 750 posts, it is vitally important that my posts be properly categorized, or readers would never be able to find anything.

I chose to label this post "Bonanza." I made that decision because I have used either "Bonanza" or "Bonanzle" to label the vast majority of my content that gives information to people who are building traffic to a website other than eBay. If I were to give this post some other label, then it would be separated from other posts on similar topics, which is not what I want.

The bottom line is that tags are an organizational tool and should be used to file information into categories.

I also have problems navigating many websites. I often have to use Google to quickly find a page on a website because I can't remember how the site's hierarchy leads to that page. I hope that people can find information easily from the main page of my website, Vintage Series Books for Girls. I tried to be obvious and tried to avoid mistakes other sites have made.

A big mistake is using pictures instead of text. Some sites use images instead of words. Not everyone is going to see a couple of links in a chain as meaning "Links page." If a site owner really wants to use an image, then please place the meaning of the image in words next to the image so we don't have to try to figure it out.
For instance, consider if the main page of my site were set up as a bunch of images like what you see on the left with embedded links and no visible text.

Would most visitors know that the images represent Betty Gordon and Beverly Gray? Some people would, but many others would not. Text is better than symbolic or visual representation of text, and Google likes text.

Concise presentation is also important in online stores. I seldom browse booths on Bonanza, because many of the booths either have too few categories, too many categories that overlap, or too many empty categories. It is frustrating to click on one category after another and find nothing in it or see the same group of items from the previous category.

When I created my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza, I first tried automatic categories since that was recommended. I figured out within a couple of days that I did not want Nancy Drew books showing up in the Dana Girls category because the phrase "Dana Girls" was mentioned in the Nancy Drew listings. I changed to manual category insertion, and I place each book in one specific category, similar to what I have done in this blog.

Organization is important no matter what kind of website you have.

1 comment:

keeline said...

If the blog has a search feature enabled, it probably searches the body search and the tag labels. If the tag phrase is not included in the body text then including it may help people to find relevant posts.

Images without context can be improved by using additional attributes such as the alt property and especially the title property. That way if a user hovers their pointer over the image, it is identified. It also helps for search engine spiders to associate a name with a given image rather than relying on nearby words in the post which may be wildly inaccurate.