Why do my tag searches fail?


Originally published on 24 Oct 2011; latest edit 9 November 2018

Topic: My preference for pages over posts, WordPress.com’s favoring of the later at the expense of the former, and how these biases conspire to frustrate your expectation of being able to fruitfully tag search this site, and others like it


Q: Why are my tag searches failing on Songbook?

A: Because typically more than 95% (presently 97.9%) of my features are pages, not posts, and pages have no tags.

 The site currently has 45 times as many WordPress pages as posts. I’ve used pages for most of the published articles since I opened the site nine years ago. Because WordPress pages cannot be tagged, tag searching visitors will frequently be disappointed with the results of their searches. There are no plans at this time to replace hundreds of pages with posts.

I’d rather try to convince WordPress to liberate pages by allowing them, optionally, to

  1. be date stamped
  2. have categories and tags
  3. automatically prompt email notifications when published, and again if later significantly revised.

Not even post updates can prompt an email notification with WordPress.com. You can not easily and efficiently inform your subscribers through your website or blog that you made a big, or little, mistake on the post you published half an hour ago, without publishing a new post.

For the past few years, the primary use of a post on this site has been to announce the publishing of a new page. Posts are typically deleted within a few months to a year after being published. The peak of interest (for visitors) for a post is usually within the first 48 hours of publication. The “rush” is due, in no small part, to the email notification sent to subscribers with each post. For some undisclosed reason, WordPress.com doesn’t think subscribers ought to be notified of the publishing of new pages, only new posts. Therefore, when I publish a new page, nobody knows…except me, unless I announce it. So I do (usually), in various ways, including with a new post. A new post announces or advertises a new page, that’s all.

Aside from a site index post that was published years ago, and a handful of other posts that have remained because of the comments on them, or for various other reasons, I don’t keep posts published or archived for long. I only really need enough posts to fill up the front page. Don’t look for me to significantly increase the number of posts on the site any time soon.


What is it about pages that leads me to prefer them to posts?

If you’ve got an efficient filing system, then any new document only sits in the “in” basket until you’ve found the time to file it properly. Why should it hang upon the face of the filing system as if it represents the whole? You might want to do so temporarily on occasion. But why should you be compelled to do so with every fresh document?

Likewise, if you’re writing a book, then a fresh document or group of passages isn’t likely to be inserted at the top of page one. It’s true that a blog journal typically runs in reverse-chronological order, the opposite of a written journal, but I’ve never considered this site to be a blog, or a journal. Virtually all of my new work goes into pages.

Most of my visitors do not enter at the front page, and in many cases may not even know how to find it. A high percentage of visitors enter the site via some link found as the result of a search, usually a Google search.

Issues regarding tag and keyword search results
Another problem with tag searches is that with some themes, including the one presently applied to this site (Koi by N.Design), the results of tag searches are displayed only as entire posts, which are often very long, though the results will be shorter on those posts which I’ve abbreviated with a “more tag.” Despite the above issues and a number of other technical problems with the Koi design, I’ve stuck with it for several years. One of these days I might switch to another.

For now, you’re much more likely to succeed with keyword searches than with tag searches of this site. You’ll find a search box at the top of the sidebar, and more search boxes further down in the sidebar at all times. When using multiple keywords, they must be placed within quotation marks. Unlike the results of tag searches, keyword search results show only the title link and the first few lines of the page or post rather than the whole. The search tool doesn’t care whether it’s a page or a post.

I plan to create a post which explains the purpose of and how to use my site drop down indexes, which are reached by first hovering over the item “Page Index (Drop-Down)” found in the header menu. This tool is extremely easy to use and can quickly provide you with links to any and every page on the site. The menu items are arranged in a hierarchy or several generations, with each generation of child pages listed alphanumerically. But I haven’t seen much evidence that people know how to use it. Or maybe they don’t understand what its purpose is. I’ll try to remedy that situation soon. An alternative, that many might prefer, is the complete page index on a single page, here: https://songbook1.wordpress.com/fx/, which the “Page Index (Drop-Down)” menu item links to. Just click on the menu item rather than hovering over it.

How a keyword search is greatly superior to a tag search on Songbook
Example #1: Not long before creating the first version of this page in October 2011, I noticed that a visitor had attempted a “Bill Evans” tag search on Songbook. The results? Nada. Nothing. Evidently, I had no posts containing a Bill Evans tag. But I knew very well that I had a lot of Bill Evans videos featured on the site. The keyword search “Bill Evans” returns 34 results.

Example #2: There is only one post with a “Frank Sinatra” tag. On the other hand, a keyword search on “Frank Sinatra” will give you 135 post and page results. Frank Sinatra, at least in reference, appeared on about 16.4% of the site’s 822 pages and posts as of 8 December 2016.

Example #3: The “Cole Porter” keyword search returns 61 results (~7.4% of the site’s posts and pages). There are no published posts with a Cole Porter tag.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam Marks
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 07:34:47

    Great site, recorded few of songs myself, would love to add some of my versions to great Burt Bacharach songs

    Liked by 1 person


    • doc
      Jan 13, 2013 @ 12:40:18

      Hi Adam,
      Welcome. Let’s hear what you have. A search turned up quite a few videos on Youtube of you performing, but I didn’t find any Bacharach songs among them.



  2. Adam Marks
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 13:47:31

    Thank you for your reply i have a few recorded here can e mail to you or i will try and put up on a site for you .

    Liked by 1 person


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Why do my tag searches fail?

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