We make no secret that there are a lot of WordPress.com bloggers. In June, we had more than 11 million users. Whoa, right?
But, to the individual blogger, you may not feel like one of 11 million users. You may feel like the only user. You sign in to your blog, publish a post, and that’s it. Done.
If you’re wondering where everybody went, it’s time to check out our tag pages — one of the best places to discover blogger friends. I’m going to show you how tags work, and how to add them to your posts, so you too can join the tag army.
How Tags Work
In essence: Tags are words that you add to a blog post that describe what the post is about. Each tag is linked to our global system of tag pages (more on that in a second). Bottom line: You want to make sure you’re adding tags to your posts, and also spending some time looking at the tag pages to see what your peers are up to.
Anytime you publish a new post, you’ll see the “Post Tags” field in the lower right-hand corner of the page:
What tags should you add? It’s up to you, there is no right/wrong here, but I recommend keeping these fairly general. Ask yourself: What is my blog about? Example: If you’re writing about, say, a trip you took to Italy, and the post has lots of photos, I’d use the following tags: “Travel, Photography, Italy.” You could also add a couple more specific tags, such as “Rome” or “Vacation.” I wouldn’t get carried away with uber-specific tags like “my road trip in Italy” or “things to do in Italy,” because as you’ll see in a moment, those aren’t useful tags.
Where Those Tags Appear on the WordPress.com Network
First, there is the main Tags page: http://en.wordpress.com/tags/. It’s organized by the most commonly used tags at any given time. You’ll sometimes see some weird fluctuations here, but for the most part, the most popular tags are music, news, photography, life, love, travel, family, art and food.
On your own blog posts, you want to make sure you’re using tags found on this main page, as these pages get a fair bit of traffic. But, don’t go nuts and use too many tags — no one likes clicking on a post in the Travel tag only to find that the post is really about a new movie (for that sort of post, use the “movies” and “entertainment” tags!)
When you click on one of these more commonly used tags, such as photography, you’re taken to this purty page: http://en.wordpress.com/tag/photography.
Finding Other Bloggers
If you’re interested in building up an audience and finding fellow blogging friends, I recommend spending some time surfing around these tag pages. You’re going to see a lot of not-so-great posts here, but you’ll also stumble across some gems. When you do, be sure to leave a comment, and maybe add that blog to your RSS feed or your blogroll.
The amazing thing is just how many tags have been used on WordPress — far more than what you’ll find on the main Tags page. Try typing in words after this URL:
For example, if you live in Texas and want to see what people are writing about the Lone Star State, type:
Or, if you’re curious what people have said about Mexican seafood recipes, type:
http://en.wordpress.com/tag/mexican-seafood-recipes (note that I added dashes between the words)
That’s because tags are endless — any word or combo of words you add as a tag creates a tag page on WordPress. But for the most part, it’s better to stick with the more general tags, because the more specific tag pages have very little content to browse, and tag pages are all about browsing.