Categories and tags explained

When creating new post, you can assign it to one or more categories, and also assign one or more tags to that post. This article breaks down what that means, and when to use a category vs. a tag.

Categories

Categories are meant for broad groupings of posts about a common topic. Think of these as general topics or the Table of Contents for your board.

If your Board focuses on specific topics narrowly, or generally explores a common theme in multiple posts, then those topics or themes would make fine examples of categories.

Categories should tell your readers what they can expect from your board in a broad sense. They define the kind of posts readers are likely to see and help readers quickly get to the content they're most interested in.

Categories are specific to each board. The categories that you create for posts in one board will not be available for posts in another board. (Of course, there's nothing stopping you from manually re-creating the same category in multiple boards. The categories will be duplicated, however, if you display both boards with a Category Filter element.) Tags, on the other hand, persist across all of the boards and categories you create in Posts.

What is the optimal number of categories?

The optimal number of categories will vary based on the complexity of your board, the scope of the topics it covers, the size of the audience and its familiarity with the content, and more. The best number and breadth of categories is whatever you need to give your audience more insight into the board and an effective way to access its contents.

What's the best way to organize categories?

We recommend starting your board with generic categories. As your board evolves, you can add additional categories as needed. For example, let’s say you start your board with 20 categories, but you're only creating one post a day. Having that many categories at the beginning seems somewhat pointless if you aren’t going to be using those categories for a while. On the other hand, a board might be dedicated to exploring a given subject in-depth and have a whole series of posts planned in advance. In that case, listing out categories for each planned topic area would give readers a good sense of what to expect from the board.

Another useful consideration when creating categories is to make them “future-proof.” For example, having a category about fundraising for new campus construction is great, but naming it “New Science Wing” is not ideal, since in a few years the wing will no longer be “new.” Instead, a category named “Development” or “Strategic Plan” would be more helpful, as it could be re-used from year to year. But what about posts that really ARE about the new science wing? This is where tags can help define the content of individual posts. Your “Announcing the New Science Wing” post can be categorized in the “Strategic Plan” category, with tags like: "science," "science wing," "new construction," "ground breaking," and so on.

Is it okay to assign one post to multiple categories?

Well...maybe. First, remember the primary reason for categories: to sort your posts efficiently so that visitors can easily find the content they are interested in. If you have set up your categories appropriately, you generally won't need to classify a post into more than one category. Should you find yourself needing to post to multiple categories often, we would recommend that you take another look at configuring your categories; maybe some of your categories would work better as tags.

Of course, you will occasionally have posts that really do apply to multiple categories. You may have blog posts about (for instance) a faculty member who coaches both Soccer and Baseball, and those might both be relevant categories for that post on your "Varsity Sports" blog.

There is no SEO benefit to adding multiple categories to a post. You should only add additional categories to a post if the post actually applies to more than one of the categories for the board.

Tags

Tags work in concert with categories to indicate that a post focuses on a particular aspect of a category. Tags are meant to describe specific details of individual posts, like keywords. They indicate common topics that are addressed across more than one post.

If you are struggling with the concept of tags, think of it like an index of a book. The index contains the most popular keywords that are found in the book. Your tags should be used in the same way.

Your board categories and tags should about the users, not search engine bots. It is best to think about your board as an evolving book: Choose your Table of Contents (categories) wisely and create your index (tags) to link related posts together.

Is there a limit to the number of tags we can assign to each post?

In short, no. However, as with categories, it is helpful to remember the purpose of tags: they indicate how your posts are linked to each other and help users find related posts.

We suggest that you add no more than 10 tags to your post unless you can justify the need for more. If your board has 10,000+ tags, but only 200 posts, then tags no longer become useful to the user trying to find the content they are interested in.

When thinking about SEO and tags, please remember that tags are NOT meta keywords for your board. They assist users with navigating the board to locate specific content, but only on your website. Tags will not carry over to search engines.

Example

Imagine a board titled “Mr. Cooke’s Third Grade Class,” with categories like:

  • Science
  • Math
  • Art
  • Language Arts
  • Classroom Life

As Mr. Cooke writes a post about how the children learned all about primary colors, secondary colors, and straight lines, he would want to post it in the “Art” category. He may want to also add the tags of "color" and "paint mixing" to the post, as well.

In a board called "Lower School News," however, a similar discussion of color in the Art curriculum might lead to a conversation about wavelengths in science class, at which point the "Science" category would also become relevant to the post. Some other relevant tags might include "lasers" or "light," in addition to the art-related tags. Similar situations, but different approaches based on the post content and board.

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