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Ping the World

Friday, January 13, 2006

Supercharging Blogger Categories

Whew! More to say on Blogger categories. I have been immersed all day in further refining Daniel Chong Jyh Tar's amazing Blogger category fix, which I have implemented on this site and blogged about twice already.

Dan's workaround is based on Blogger's search feature, which itself derives from Google search syntax. In a previous post, I wrote about how to tweak your query before using Dan's code generator by employing a phrase search (enclose term in double quotation marks) or by brainstorming a list of words separated by Google's OR operator ( I ). This worked, but I still wasn't happy with the results. I have been experimenting further, and have discovered a couple of important things:

  • Because it's the Google search (or some variation thereof), you can use the exclusion operator (-). This is great, because you can tell Blogger to pull up all the pages containing one of a set of words, but NOT another word. Just add the word you wish to exclude at the end of the query code in the Blogger template before the final quotation mark. Precede the word with a minus sign. You can exclude multiple words. Just place a minus sign before each, like so: -hack -hacks. This is a great workaround, and I used it to prevent the Blogger template hacks from appearing in the Tools and Resources category. Take a look at the code here.

  • The only hitch I found is that Blogger seems to have some sort of word limit, and you may have to remove a couple of words from your list of ORs. This is strange because Google extended its notorious 10-word limit t0 32 words a long time ago. Doesn't seem to work in Blogger though. If you have trouble getting your exclusion to work, try eliminating a couple of the words in your list of ORs.

  • I also got strange results combining a phrase with a set of ORs and an exclusion, as in this example: "web design" I HTML I CSS -hack -hacks. Blogger produced completely erroneous results, though this works typed directly in the search field rather than the template. This needs further tweaking, and the Blogger people could certainly improve the query language.

  • In the process of re-working my categories yet again, I began to realize how much careful thought you must put into word choice as you write, since the words you use become the keywords Blogger search will use to achieve logical, intuitive topic clustering. Search engines are very literal: if you have used the word tool in talking about, say, a light meter for a camera (using this site as an example), that posting will show up under both Photography I Photoshop and Tools I Resources. That might be OK, but it might also make your topic clustering less intuitive to readers.

Hope you found this post helpful. Stay tuned for more. Even better, subscribe to my feed and get more on this topic automatically.

4 comments:

TBTAM said...

Hi Pam:
Enjoying your site as I get my own blog up to speed. Am currently tweaking Dan Chong's workaround, and finding that the search engine is only finding keywords within the post, but not recognizing the tags I've put at the end of the pos. (I'm not using the underline, maybe that's the problem?) I've done multiple republishings and waited 12 hours.

I notice there are no catagory names in your posts or tags. Where are you hiding them? Any suggestions for me?

THANKS.

Pam said...

Thanks for the great feedback. Glad to know this blog is helping people. Re how Blogger indexes posts, I'm afraid I can't offer much insight. I'm as mystified as you. I have several posts that don't show up at all, though they're full of keywords. Blogger is ignoring my Lind McCartney post, for example. A quick search at the main Blogger page would suggest that post doesn't exist at all!

I don't know how Blogger indexes posts, but your problem could be because the tag content is generated by a third party (Technorati, del.icio.us???)

I don't use category names in my posts as I didn't want to clutter up my the titles, and sometimes things fit more than one category. I rely on Blogger's search feature, imperfect as it is. Suggest you contact the Blogger tech support people.

Stupid said...

I have another idea for categories on blogger.(is by making archives. Look at my blog: Stupid Stuff, you will understand) The only drawback I care is this: the posts on the manin page are not categorised and when I categorise them I have to change their date, with this I lose some links. I think this can be solved with some javascript that can let me choose which posts to apear on the main page.Anyone who know how to do that please email me.

This is my blog: http://stupid-ideas.blogspot.com/
and this my email: ionut.ro at gmail.com

P.S. excuse my english, is not my first language

Pam said...

Not sure I understand how your categories work, but very amusing blog :-)