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Overwhelmed by category/tag possibilities

  1. This is a heavy question, but people are so helpful in these forums, I'm hoping someone will be kind enough to take a peek at my blog and give me advice.

    I recently started a blog about recipes from cookbooks -- http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com. I'd like my posts to be picked up by search engines, so I know I should attach tags or categories to them. But I'm afraid to overwhelm each post with all the potential tags/categories that they could have. For instance, every one could have the word "recipe." Each one could name the type of dish (e.g., "chili" or "soup"). Each one could name the main ingredient of the recipe (e.g., "barley" or "chicken"). Each could have the title of the cookbook involved and the author's name. If I did all that, it would look pretty messy on the posts, wouldn't it?

    From what I can find on the forums, i believe there's no way to keep tags or categories invisible and still have them searchable. Is that right? If so, has anyone who has dealt with this kind of problem tell me how they've handled it?

    The blog I need help with is dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.

  2. Make sure that your categories are broad and your tags specific because you want your human visitors to be able to find what they are looking for. http://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/categories-vs-tags/

    And if you want them to be able to find these topics on your blog, make sure you use the category widget and the tag widget in your blog's sidebar.
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/categories-widget/
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/tag-cloud-widget/

  3. Categories and tags serve two main purposes: being picked up by search engines is the one, organizing your blog and helping visitors navigate it is the other. In addition, categories and tags in your sidebar link to your posts while categories and tags under a post link to the global WP pages: this helps visitors find related posts in other blogs, and is good for your traffic as well.

    As Jennifer said, categories should be the general sub-groups of your posts while tags should be more specific key-words related to the content of a particular post; categories can have sub-categories too. So if you devise a good scheme with categories and subcategories for filing your posts, plus add a few tags to each one, I don't think the blog will look messy. Just keep the total sum of categories plus tags per post to around 10-15 or you run the risk of being excluded from the global pages.

    "i believe there's no way to keep tags or categories invisible and still have them searchable. Is that right?" Almost; a couple of themes feature this option: Monochrome (can hide tags) and iNove (can hide tags and/or categories).

  4. Thank you both for the help -- especially for reminding me that I need to make things useful for human visitors, not just search engines!

    Now I understand it better, I'll spend some time thinking through the category/subcategory/tag issue and try to work out a scheme.

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