7 Tag Taxonomy Best Practices for Strategic Tagging

We have all been there – urgently needing an image, video, or other type of asset to use for a project. No matter what keywords you use to search for it, you just cannot find it in the system. We can all benefit from having the right tagging system for our assets. Doing so helps us find assets quicker, and it gives us a quick overview of which assets we have available, and which ones are missing. Follow our tag taxonomy best practices to identify content and asset gaps and surpluses, and inform your tagging and content strategy.

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What Are Tags? And What Is the Difference Between Tag and Category Taxonomies?

A taxonomy is the logic and set of rules that governs how we classify and categorize different items that belong to the same group. The word taxonomy is derived from the Greek taxis (“arrangement” or “order”) and nomos (“law” or “rule”). While mainly used in botany and zoology, a tag taxonomy in marketing terms is the strategy we follow to tag our (digital) assets. Tag taxonomies are often confused with category taxonomies. The two differ in that a tag taxonomy refers to a non-hierarchical model of tagging assets, while a category taxonomy is the top-down, hierarchical classification of assets.

Why Are Tags and a Tag Taxonomy Necessary?

Tagging your assets is the easiest way to make them easy to find with a quick search. When you have the right tag taxonomy in place, your assets are divided in the right categories, ensuring universal access to them by every stakeholder in your organization and outside of it. Without the right tagging system, your assets can be hard to find and may be easily forgotten. This leads to double work, confusion, and a low ROI on the investment needed to create them. But first, let us look at what different types of tag categories exist.

What Are the Different Types of Tag Categories?

Think of tag categories as a set of filters. Each filter you apply matches different sets of assets to your search. Popular tag categories include subject matter, editor, author, date, vertical, department, and content type. So, the more tag categories you combine, the more specific search results you will get and vice versa.

7 Tag Taxonomy Best Practices to Create an Effective (Digital) Asset Taxonomy

In creating a proper (digital) asset taxonomy, planning and preparation are the keys to success. And remember that no matter how much you plan your taxonomy, there will always be room for improvement. A tag taxonomy is not a static thing – rather, it is a set of rules that should ideally change and evolve together with the assets and needs of your organization. Now, let us explore the steps you can take to create the right tag taxonomy today:

1. Identify the Assets You Need to Tag

While this may sound too obvious, it is a step worth mentioning nonetheless. By knowing all the assets that you must tag from the beginning, you ensure that your tag taxonomy strategy will lend itself well across your entire catalog.

2. Plan Your Tagging Strategy and Taxonomy

Now is the time to define the level of granularity you wish your assets to have. Think about how specific or generic your tags needs to be for your taxonomy to be effective and efficient. A good strategy to follow here is crowdsourcing – reach out to as many of your stakeholders as possible and take note of the terminologies everyone uses. Remember that your tag taxonomy should work for your stakeholders, not for its own sake. The closer your tagging terminology gets to how people refer to your assets, the easier and wider its usage will be. Finally, consider the purpose your tagging structure will serve and what your tag taxonomy needs to look like to achieve your goal.

3. Create an Asset Dictionary

The most successful tagging strategy wins and in this case success is other people tagging assets in the same way you do. You may spend days on creating a tag taxonomy best practices document only for it to be ignored. And your time and efforts spent on this go to waste. In this case, too, prevention is the best medicine – and the antidote you need is an asset dictionary. This is how you ensure all stakeholders tag their assets using the same terminology. The result? Every stakeholder has the potential to find every single asset ever created!

4. Define the Desired Version(s) of Your Assets

At this stage, you need to decide on the type of assets you wish to make available to your stakeholders. Would it be pertinent to them if they have access to every single version and variation of an asset, or do they only care about the original draft or, conversely, the finalized version? In adding this to your overall tag taxonomy strategy, make sure your stakeholders are aware of which version(s) they should be uploading, and which ones are to be excluded.

5. Use a Tagging Automation Tool for Seamless Tagging

A tagging automation tool, akin to Lytho’s Digital Asset Management one, enforces the set of rules that make up your tag taxonomy across your entire catalog of assets. It also automatically tags all future assets based on the parameters you have set, so you do not have to do this manually by yourself each time you upload a new asset.

6. Be Consistent with Your Tagging

Repetition is the mother of learning and tagging! And, in defining, updating, and enforcing your asset taxonomy, consistency is a must. Once ready, invite your key stakeholders to review your tag taxonomy for inconsistencies before applying it. Then, take note of any feedback that comes your way so you know what to do better next time!

7. Review and Update Your Tagging Taxonomy as Needed

This is, perhaps, the single most valuable tag taxonomy best practice of all. Frequent updates and changes are crucial to a health taxonomy, especially in the case of digital asset tag taxonomies. Think of your tag taxonomy as yet another one of your possessions. You would not leave your car, bike, or teeth unattended for months on end, would you? Your taxonomy is no different – the more time you invest in keeping it updated, the better use you will get out of it.

Finding the Tag Taxonomy that Works Best for You

The tag taxonomy that fits your team and organization’s needs best depends on the type of assets you deal with. If you mainly create videos, then you would benefit most from a taxonomy that includes filters such as video categories, length, and genre. Including your industry as a second dimension will give you an additional layer to your taxonomy. From there on, you can get as granular or remain as generic as you wish. In case you deal with images most instead, and you work in the retail industry, you may benefit from adding parameters like color, length, size, material, etc.

Creating the Right Digital Asset Taxonomy with Lytho’s Creative Operations Platform

Our Creative Operations platform comes with built-in functionalities that make tagging your assets incredibly simple. With our digital asset management tool, you can finally create a tagging system that works for you. Now, you can overcome the hurdles of conflicting taxonomy practices. Since Lytho supports a hybrid taxonomy system, you can easily create your own collections and categories and filter by your preferred parameters.

Recommended reading: What Is Taxonomy in Digital Asset Management and Why Does It Matter?

Lytho helps you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!