A couple of days ago I was reading a guest post by a guy who wrote on the topic of bounce rates. He started that he only had a 2% bounce rate; every person that commented, including yours truly, found that hard to believe. Goodness, the best bounce rate I have on any of my blogs is around 66%. That may have been the most controversial point, but there was something else in that post that got my attention.
It was his mentioning tags and tag clouds and how, by keeping them relatively low, they can help shape what your blog is all about in a better fashion, as well as help reduce your bounce rate. That one caught my attention because I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. And, by extension, categories as well, which sometimes mirror the tags.
For the uninitiated, categories help people find content they care about quicker. If you look to the right sidebar of mine you’ll see it just before my product pages listing. I have 35 article categories on this blog; in a way that’s a bunch, and I know that some of these can be merged. Not all of them, but some of them; then again, I talk about a wide variety of things on this blog, so maybe that’s not so bad.
However, I also have 1,899 tags and counting on this blog; that might be a bit of overkill. The idea behind tags is to refine what you’re talking about in your blog posts. So, I might be talking SEO in general as a category, but on one day I might be talking about keywords, on another I could be talking about linking, etc. Therefore, one might tend to have more tags than categories.
But how many tags and categories are too many in general? I tend to believe it depends on what it is you’re writing about. Let’s compare this blog to 3 of my other blogs. The first business blog, which I’ve had the longest, has 19 categories and 919 tags. The second business blog, which I’ve only had just under 4 months by now, only has 6 categories and 50 tags. And my finance blog has 45 categories and 901 tags.
Do two of those above look excessive to you? On the surface they do, but in reality I tend to think not. Tags help you zero in on a topic, and search engines seem to take more credence in your tags than they do in categories anyway. I’ve noticed that categories seem to show up in blog readers more often, as they do in my Feedreader program. True, it might help if you could find ways to use similar tags over and over, but sometimes I think it’s imperative that you drill down further, be a bit more specific with your topic.
For instance, my last post was on video blogging. I could have just put “blogging” but that wouldn’t have really been sufficient. So I added “video blogging” to the mix as well as “vlog”, a term a lot of people use. I then decided to toss in a keyword phrase, “future of blogging”; after all, there might be people that search for that phrase, and with all the other keywords it might help make the post prominent enough to be found for that term by some people.
By the way, I will say that it’s possible that either tags or categories will help reduce your bounce rate. If people want to learn more or see more of what you’ve said in the past they might decide to click on your categories or, if you have them somewhere, your tags; I’ve taken mine down but I’m thinking about putting it back up somewhere, probably on the right sidebar again.
What’s your take on tags and categories? I know some people haven’t used them; why not? And while we’re at it, do you pay attention to tag clouds on blogs you visit?