Tags To Help Organize Agriculture Blogs

Janice Person posted a question about using a new hash tag, #agblog, to help people discover agriculture blogs. Below is my comment.

Using #agblog as a Twitter hash tag paired with a tweet about an ag related blog (example: "Got a Farm Blog? #AgBlog it http://agtoday.us/bkLXu3 ") is different from a blog post that has been tagged by the writer with #agblog. On re-reading JP's thoughts, I think what she is really suggesting is using Twitter to highlight links to new ag blog posts, with the hash tag #agblog being the grouping element.

JP's stated goal is "to locate new ag blogs". Ag bloggers posting a tweet with a blog link and the #agblog tag will help JP discover new blogs / blog posts: she will most likely setup a TweetDeck column with #agblog as the search term and monitor it periodically.

Using #agblog as a tag on a blog post may also help JP, but in a different way. Blog post tags are helpful in organizing content within the blog. For the blog reader, the blog post's tags are a way to find similar posts on that blog. For the blog writer, the blog post tags are a way to group posts for other purposes, for example creating a page of posts related to "ice cream". Additionally, most blog tools (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) also provide an RSS feed of their tag terms; the RSS feeds can be plugged into something like Google Reader to help find updated posts for that tag term on a specific blog.

The #agblog tag on blog posts may not be as effective in pulling similar posts across many blogs as the method of grouping these posts is a bit more loose, so JP's desire to discover new ag blogs may fall back to using Google search and that then means more searching work and less discovery, something I think JP is trying to reduce (the search work part :).

Interestingly, what JP is trying to do may be better served by identifying selected people who write ag blogs, curating (distilling, boiling down, weeding out, etc) the posts, and then sharing them. She already has started this with her Ag Bloggers Twitter list. This is the very nature of information discovery through out human history: we find people that we like, respect, or consider important to follow and stay connected to them for a period of time. We then share those connections with others, in the hope they will also find them of value.

I avoided talking about blog tags as a method to improve search engine optimization as that is a whole other universe:) See Learn about the Canonical Link Element in 5 minutes and Why did Google only index 1 of my blog posts with multiple tags? for more details.