People rave about blogs for so many reasons I forget novices haven’t been introduced to all the features. One thing that’s truly remarkable and is the blog’s greatest selling feature to a “newbie” is their searchable database.
My appreciation of searchable databases hearkens back to when I managed a department for a large corporation. I started in a room filled with paper and watched as more filing cabinets and people were thrown on the file-management. As the paper problem out-grew the staff and office furniture, so did our frustration in finding files and finding the information needed to do our jobs.
When computers were brought in, all the data was entered into a program which had a huge database running behind it. We could search by name, address, phone number, and lots of other parameters. Suddenly we were finding records and making connections between files like we had never done before!
Roll ahead a decade or so to the age of the blog. Like corporate records, a blog is a collection of data stored in a searchable database. If you’re new to blogging or you’ve been blogging for a while but haven’t yet discovered the beauty of searching, these three tips will encourage you to start organizing your blog and taking advantage of it’s fabulous search features!
Let ‘em search. Not all blogs are created with a search field, but yours should have one. I recommend a search field because it means your blog visitors can search your blog for any word or phrase that interests them. You don’t have to be psychic to anticipate your visitors’ needs. You don’t have to create an index or list of articles. Put up a search field and let it do all the work for you.
Assign categories. If you aren’t using categories, you’re missing a big feature of blogging! A search field helps your blog visitors peek into all of your blog posts. But, assigning categories to your articles is like naming a file folder and filing all the articles written on that topic into that category folder. Using categories with plug-ins opens up opportunities to display articles from a specific category in a group — like “guest blogger” articles in a box on the home page, or maybe five articles categorized as “Spanish translations” on their own page.
Don’t be vague—anticipate what your blog visitors want to read and tell them where it’s filed with clear category names. Categories will make your readers happy because they can find what they are interested in faster!
Tag it! Label it! WordPress users have tags, while Blogger users have labels. Whichever you use the end result should be a list of keywords or phrases that make it easier for your blog visitors to read groups of blog posts by topic. Think back to the days of papers piles and manila folders, then create a cheat sheet or list of topics that would be put into file folders (like Categories). Be specific with tags to help visitors find what they want.
For example, rather than tagging an article about your new legal software training as just “software” which could attract visitors looking for software advice or other types of software, choose something more precise. Phases that would work better as tags and labels are “legal software,” “choosing legal software,” “new release legal software,” or “law office management program”. Don’t forget a tag cloud or a label cloud in your blog’s sidebar: visitors can then choose what they want from this list of your tags or labels.
To sum up blog searching:
1. A search field offers readers a broad search that will bring up any post in your database containing a specific word or phrase
2. Categories give the reader an organized way to search by identifying posts grouped (or filed) by category name
3. Tags/labels are refined search words (or if you prefer “keywords”) contained in posts helping blog readers further identify topics of interest.
Back in the day of paper filing, we rejoiced when we found the right paperwork in the correct folder, dutifully filed in the proper cabinet. Making the best use of your search options on your blog will bring your readers the same satisfaction!