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Using tags to track your blog’s direction

Photo courtesy JD Hancock via Flickr

Usually when I’m tagging a blog post I’ve just written, I’m thinking about highlighting people, brands and concepts that I’ve mentioned in the post that readers might be searching for. But tags can serve another very important function, which I think few bloggers representing brands take advantage of: tracking the progression of themes and topics that weave through your content.

We all know that “stuffing” posts with excessive tags is bad practice, and so is slapping a lot of self-promotional tags on your posts. But how many of us actually track our usage of tags over time? Beyond just evaluating how you make use of tags, you might be surprised by some of the topics that surface as recurring ideas, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your objectives.

In a way, this is a little counterintuitive: we think of blogging as an in-the-moment activity. And as you look at the tags you’ve used on blog posts in the past, there may be a boneyard quality to some (maybe there’s no great benefit to going back to those 6 posts you tagged “MySpace” in 2007). But without using any fancy tools, I had a look at the roughly 2,000 tags we’ve placed on 350 blog posts over the past 3 years (about 6 tags per post) and came up with some useful observations.

  • We’re diligent about only using our company name or product names as tags on posts that really focus on our products. For most blogs, those posts need to be a small part of the mix, and it looks like we follow that best practice: I found that only 5 percent of our posts carry a “Cision” tag.
  • Sure, we talk plenty about social media, but Twitter only gets a mention on 21 percent of our posts, and Facebook 16 percent. I think that shows we understand there’s a bigger world out there for communications pros.
  • Only 195 out of the 861 unique tags we’ve used since the blog’s inception have appeared more than once. That seems to reflect the fact that our industry moves fast; some trends fizzle and not every tool and buzzword survive. That’s OK.

What can your tags teach you about your blog?

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