Content Strategy and Taxonomy

Jun 23 2017

Taxonomy is deeply rooted in human history and is as old as the development of human language. The origins of scientific taxonomy in the West can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks. The foundation of taxonomy as we know it today is assigned to Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Carl got the ball rolling for the West with his two amazing works: the global flora Species Plantarum, published in 1753 and the tenth edition of Systema Naturae in 1758 including global fauna. However, the earliest traces of the origins of taxonomy are from the East. Before the Middle Ages the East and the West developed in relative isolation from each other and it is the legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nung who is credited with writing one of the earliest pharmacopoeias in about 3000 BC! Flash forward several thousands of years and we're living in a world that I imagine Carl and Emperor Shen couldn't have imagined.

Today, taxonomy isn't applied to just botany and zoology. In the 21st century, taxonomy is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie that classification. When we apply taxonomy to web development and content management, it has evolved and is far more than a system for classifying things. Taxonomy for the content marketer is all about what terms and structure will help the content perform best and support the organization’s business goals. Within the Drupal CMS the Taxonomy module gives you the ability organize content using keywords known in other systems as categories, tags, or metadata. It allows you to connect, create relationships and classify your website's content. In Drupal, these terms are gathered within "vocabularies."

Taxonomy is one of the features that gives Drupal a sharp competitive advantage over many other CMSs. A basic view of taxonomy principles is:

  • Each vocabulary consists of a set of terms.
  • A site can have an unlimited number of vocabularies.
  • Each vocabulary has an associated ID number.
  • Each taxonomy term has an associated ID number.
  • Each vocabulary can contain an unlimited number of terms.
  • Within a vocabulary, terms can be ordered into hierarchies.

In this post we've curated fantastic articles to inform, educate and get you started using taxonomy in your content marketing strategy:

  1. Website Taxonomy Guidelines And Tips: How Best To Organize Your Site: This article takes a deep dive into the types of taxonomy from flat, and hierarchical to faceted taxonomy and the benefits of each approach
  2. How to Build Your Own Content Marketing Taxonomy: This article discusses content marketing taxonomy beyond just 'findability' of your content. Taxonomy can aide strategy and distribution


If you're not thinking about taxonomy when it comes to your content planning you should be. It will aide in the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content on your website and benefit the outcome of your strategy.

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