From site search to related stories and fully leveraging content categories, tagging is an important step in offering consumers a complete experience while visiting your Web site. The process, however, can get a bit complicated.
For most publishers, it involves a multi-tiered approach: creating keywords to be tagged in each article, tagging the articles themselves so that they appear in certain categories and linking related articles together. Most CMS systems are set up do these tasks automatically, while other companies prefer to do it manually.
Although there are meta tags hard coded within each of its Web pages, the editors at Nielsen Business Media, whose primary sites are THR.com, Brandweek.com, Mediaweek.com, Adweek.com and BackStage.com, prefer to do their keyword tagging manually. “When an editor enters an article, they also enter the associated tags,” Lisa Sullivan-Cross, VP, online media and entertainment group, told FOLIO:. “We tried automated tagging as a company in the past and it just didn’t work well for us. The tags didn’t closely match the standards of what our editorial staff can do.”
Each brand has its own set of keywords and the approach the company uses to determine what they are is two-fold, according to Scott McKenzie, SVP, content. “We have keywords that help drive our b-to-b audience who already familiar with our brands and URLs,” he said. “And then we have to establish keywords for the more accidental visitors that gets to our sites from search engines. It’s about finding a balance between the two.”
McKenzie said that more than half of the visitors to Nielsen’s sites come from search engines, therefore it’s critical to get the keywords right. “It is okay to experiment, but you need to be smart about what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “It’s like science, but it’s not a perfect one.”
Nielsen hasn’t ruled out using automatic tagging in the future, however. Sullivan-Cross says that as products for automated tagging evolve, the company would be willing to test them out.
The second major aspect of tagging content involves separating the site’s articles into categories based on topic. “We just ask that each editor map the content of the article to the categories and subcategories that we’ve chosen to make it as granular as possible,” Sullivan-Cross said. “It not only determines where the article is going to appear on the site, but it’s also important for SEM as well.”
McKenzie encourages editors to not use industry jargon or to attempt to match the related print magazine’s department names with the Web site’s categories. This can be confusing since the majority of site visitors may be not be familiar with the print magazine.
When creating a new category, McKenzie said, the team asks itself two questions beforehand: who wants it and is there a demand for it. “When you’re building a site, the goal should be simplicity for sure,” he said. “You don’t want too many categories because the majority of users are not coming in from the home page, they’re coming in from a landing page. The navigation needs to be very clean.”
The team uses traffic metrics to determine where on the site people are gravitating to the most, so if there’s a story dealing with a particular topic that’s on the rise, it could be used as a “piece of evidence for the trial.”
It’s also critical to be aware of fleeting trends, McKenzie added. “Is this trend something that could go away in a few months?” he asked. “Sometimes trends change, habits change and needs change. A good Web site strives to go along with those changes, but only if it makes sense.”