July 27, 2006
This article reprinted from the the TypePad Hacks Weblog. The original article can be found online:
© 2008, John T Unger
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!