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John T. Unger

Use TypePad's New Technorati Tag Feature to Embed Tags in Your Blog Posts Without Editing HTML

John T. Unger July 27, 2006

One of the features I've most wanted to see incorporated into the TypePad Application went live today!

You can now tag your blog posts without having to paste HTML links into the HTML window of your compose page. Instructions for customizing your Compose page to take advantage of this new feature are posted in the Knowledge Base article "Using Technorati with TypePad."

Update: Some Advanced Template users will need to update the code in their templates before they can take advantage of this feature. I've posted instructions for the update (with cut+paste code).

When I first started tagging my posts, I laboriously went back through the archives on some blogs and added them in manually, which was a real pain. I was able to speed it up somewhat by keeping a text file of the code ready to paste in, but still… It's so much easier to have it integrated into the app. Built-in tagging is one of the three biggest reasons I started writing most of my posts using Ecto. (The other two are that the photo upload function gives me more options and that I like having a back-up of my blog on my laptop. Oh, and being able to write posts while I'm offline is nice too!)

So now that it's easy, why do you care? Technorati Tags are used by Technorati and other blog-oriented search engines to index your posts so people can find them. They work in the same way that blog categories do (and in fact Technorati also uses the categories on TypePad blogs to figure out what you're writing about). Basically, tags help people find what they're looking for, and if you have it, then that's a good thing for you and your blog.

There are two other benefits to tags that aren't discussed as much.

One is that if you use tags to help people find your content, you no longer have to drop keywords in the body of your text. This allows you to write much more compelling, authentic copy for people rather than search engines. Brian Clark has a great post about this over on CopyBlogger.

The other reason Tags are great is that they allow you to pare the categories you use on your blog down to the essential. If you have too many categories it can be just as bad as having none… there's a limit to how much attention span the averagee reader is going to have, and they aren't likely to scroll down an endless sidebar list of categories to see if you have what they want. I've mentioned before that seven items is about the max for top-level menu items (this is, I believe, also the reason phone numberrs are seven digits not including the area code. It's about all we can remember, on average). I just did a remake of one of my other blogs and one of the things I was most excited about was revamping the categories so that they made more sense and took up less space.

Tags can be used on a per-post basis, which means that you can be as specific as you want without taking up permanent, valuable real estate in your sidebar. That's a good thing. I'm really pleased to see this feature added!

More Like This: Blog Tools , Hacks for Categories , Hacks for Navigation , News , TypePad

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Comments

Craig McGinty says:

Hi John
I wonder if you know the TypePad tag format I need to add to my advanced template to display the Technorati Tags on articles?
Many thanks
Craig

Graham says:

I believe TypePad gave us an inadvertant preview of this feature just before the 'outage' the other day. I made two posts just before the outage and noticed the technorati tags box on the posting form in place of the keywords box. I thought it was strange that this new feature had not been announced. Then the outage happened and I was convinced that it must have been because of this new 'release' of TypePad that included this feature. Anyway, I was going to post this up on your site at that time, but decided that I did not want to reveal the new feature on behalf of TypePad (since no one else seemed to notice). Now that the feature is out I can tell my story. Did anyone else notice this?

john t unger says:

Hi Craig,

you don't need to hack your templates at all to use tags... just go to the link at the bottom of your Compose page that says Customize the display of this page, and a pop-up window will appear. Under the heading Post Screen Configuration, select Custom, and then check the box for Technorati Tags. You'll be all set. When the compose window reloads you'll see a field under the Post Body window where you can enter tags separated by commas.

Actually, this is one of the other things I like that I forgot to mention in my post above… Some tag generators separate tags by spaces, some by commas. The drawback to space separated tags is that you can only create single word tags. I often want to make multiple word tags such as "fire pit" or "TypePad Hack." I'm really pleased that Typepad chose to use commas rather than spaces to separate tags. It's a much better way to do it.

john t unger says:

UPDATE:

So, Craig emailed me and said:

I have done what you propose but the Techno Tags are still not turning up on articles, I think it must be something to do with my using Advanced Templates, because if I don't tell 'entry-individual' to draw the tags in they won't appear.
So I looked closer, and sure enough, the tags I applied to this very post you're reading are not showing up! Oops. I did mean to check that…

On the other hand, I just used the built-in tagging feature on another one of my blogs here and it worked fine. All of the blogs, both of mine as well as Craig's are running on advanced templates, so I don't think that that is specifically the issue. I would guess that there is a template hack that Craig and TPH have in common which is preventing the tags from displaying somehow. Craig has submitted a help ticket and I'll report back on what he finds out.

Sarah says:

I love this feature!

Nuthatch says:

I really don't like having an ugly list of tags at the end of each post. I don't suppose anyone has a hack to either make the tags a smaller size or color? I tried adding "span style" code in the tag box, but that didn't work.

Nuthatch says:

I should say, adding the span style code does work for the tags themselves, but not for the words "Technorati Tags".

Adam says:

Yup, that's what I want to know. I want to know how to make the tags in a smaller font, b/c the bigger font is a little annoying.....

Ideas for those of us not having Advanced templates b/c we're cheap....?

john t unger says:

Sarah, Nuthatch and Adam…

There's a few ways you can go about making the tags smaller, but most require pro accounts. You can:

1. define a style in your custom CSS for technorati tags, which should work fine for the auto-generated tags.

2. Use ecto to post to your blog… it applies styles to the tags in the html so that you don't need to do it in CSS (and I'm pretty sure yoou can define the style it applies, though I don't remember off the top of my head).

3. add tags the manual way by hand coding them into the html window on the compose page. If you do that, you can manually add styles just as ecto does.

By far, the easiest way is to define a style in your CSS, but you'll need a pro account to do that.

oscar says:

hi: Hope you can help me.

I use typepad advanced templates and i include Technorati tags and feedflares in each one of my posts. How can i change the font size and colour of these links?

Thanks for your help and congrats for the blog.

Tom van Brunschot says:

Thanks for this info.

John Coffey says:

I suffer from too many categories. Is there any way to bulk manage categories. ie. to get a list of posts and reassign the categories?

I fear not but can't wait for you to surprise me ;-)

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