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Organize content with taxonomies

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In the world of content, taxonomy is a way to categorize and organize pieces of content, be it content items or digital assets like images. You can use taxonomy to classify your content by purpose, audience, the team or region it belongs to, or any other properties important to your business.

Table of contents

    Advantages of using taxonomies

    • Avoid content duplication: Taxonomies help to avoid content duplication because they make it easy to check what content is already available.
    • Discover content efficiently: Taxonomies use one term to connect all content items or assets with a common property so it's easy to find what you're looking for.
    • Filter content: The structure of the taxonomy allows you to filter content items and assets in Kontent and easily find what you need.
    • Serve content based on context: Use taxonomies to serve your customers dynamic content, such as related articles or similar products they might be interested in.

    How to design a good taxonomy

    When you're creating a taxonomy, there are a few decisions to make so you end up with a well-functioning result.

    1. Scope

    First, decide what your taxonomy needs to cover. For example, if you're selling cars, you most likely want to cover car types, brands, fuel, and so on. 

    2. Granularity

    The next aspect to think about is how detailed you need the taxonomy to be. Always base this on what's important to your business, don't categorize just for the sake of categorization. Below is an example of an over-complicated categorization with levels that don't add much value.

    People buying a car typically don't care that much which continent and country the brand is from.

    3. One term per concept

    When you have the scope and granularity sorted out, you need to pick one term for each concept. For instance, some people say a car runs on gas, others call it petrol. It's the same thing so you need to pick one term for it so people don't get confused.

    4. Define the terms

    The last step is to define what the terms are intended for. That's important so people in your organization know the term gas, for instance, is intended for cars that run on petrol in British English.

    Best practices

    Meeting the following rules will help you create a taxonomy that's functional and easy to use.

    Family terminology in the world of taxonomies

    When people talk about relationships among taxonomy terms, they use family relationship names parent, child, and sibling because taxonomy relationships are analogous to family relationships.

    Family relationship names in taxonomies

    Make the terms mutually exclusive

    For example, having terms like adult cats and elderly cats as siblings wouldn't work because every elderly cat is also an adult cat.

    If you need that distinction, nest elderly cats under adult cats.

    Each term needs to have only one parent

    However cruel it may sound, terms can't have more than one parent because it overcomplicates the taxonomy. 

    For instance, having term kittens both under cats and under non-adult pets brings confusion. Is it the same term? Is it not?

    Taxonomy terms must be unique

    If your taxonomy contains both petrol and gas terms, people won't know which term to pick and the system's going to be confusing and less useful.

    Don't rely on context

    Terms with identical names aren't unique even if they're under different parents. For example, two terms labeled adults where one is under cats and the other is under dogs are confusing because people need to check parents of the terms to pick the right one.

    Approaches to taxonomies in Kontent

    In this section, you'll learn about three ways to implement taxonomies. They all have their pros and cons and are useful for certain scenarios. The possible approaches are:

    Use the built-in taxonomies

    Kontent has a built-in taxonomy functionality. It's the most intuitive and easiest approach to implement a taxonomy in Kontent.

    ✅ Suitable for scenarios when:

    • You want to have an option to tag a content item by an (un)limited number of terms.
    • You want to limit the number of taxonomy terms assigned to each content item to a specific number or range.
    • You want to reflect your website structure in the taxonomy and use it to build a sitemap, for instance.
    • You want to use the taxonomy for filtering your content items in the content list and assets in the asset library.

    ❌ Unsuitable for scenarios when:

    • You want to add other information to the terms themselves, such as their scope and definition.
    • You need to allow managing taxonomy also for content creators who don't have permission to edit the content model.

    How to create a taxonomy using the built-in taxonomies

    Head over to Content Model and select the Taxonomies tab. Then create a taxonomy group for each broader taxonomy you have and add taxonomy terms to it.

    Here's an inspiration for how a taxonomy structure for a magazine could look like:

    Management screen of the Topics taxonomy group in the content model section of Kontent.

    Once you have your taxonomy groups and terms created, you need to add a taxonomy element for each group you have to the appropriate places:

    For tagging content items, add the taxonomy elements to the content types of the items you want to tag:

    Taxonomy element in content type

    For tagging assets, you add the taxonomy elements to the Asset type:

    Taxonomy elements with selected taxonomy groups in the asset type

    When you're done, you can start tagging your content.

    Use content types and linked items for taxonomy

    Another way to implement a taxonomy is to leverage content types and linked items. With this approach, you create content types for each group of taxonomy terms and use the content type name as the taxonomy group name. Content items based on these types then serve as taxonomy terms of the respective taxonomy groups. To tag a piece of content with a term, you add the appropriate taxonomy term as a linked item.

     ✅ Suitable for scenarios when:

    • You have flat taxonomy groups like the ones in the schema below.
    • You want to set up roles to give a certain level of control over the taxonomy also to content creators who don't have permission to edit the content model.
    • You want to limit the number of terms linked to each content item to a specific number or range.
    • You want to limit what groups of taxonomy terms can be assigned to what types of content.

    ❌ Unsuitable for scenarios when:

    • You want to filter content by taxonomy terms in the content list.
    • You have a complex taxonomy with several levels of nested structures.

    How to create taxonomy using linked items

    Let's say you organize a course that covers topics such as in the schema above and you want to tag your lessons about math, religion, biology, and so on.

    Firstly, realize what topic categories you have. In the schema above, those are Humanities and Natural Sciences. Create a content type for each of the categories and name it as you call the category. These content types serve as taxonomy groups.

    Add definitions and scope

    You can leave the content types empty. However, to make your taxonomy easier to use, add guidelines elements to the types so you can include additional info, such as the definition and scope, in the terms.

    After you create the taxonomy groups, create a content item for each taxonomy term. When you're choosing a content type, select the one with the same name as the category the taxonomy term is in. In the schema above, the content item Math would have the content type Natural Science while the content item Philosophy would be based on the Humanities content type. These content items serve as taxonomy terms you'll use to tag your content.

    When you have the taxonomy structure created, it's time to add a place for the taxonomy terms in your content. Go to the content types of your content and add a linked items element. There are basically two options when it comes to setting it up:

    1. Limit the element to accept only a single taxonomy content type if you use different content types for different categories of your content. For instance, if you use a separate content type for articles about natural sciences, set the element to accept items of the Natural Sciences type only. That'll prevent content creators from tagging an article about cats with the Political Sciences term.
    2. Limit the element to accept all taxonomy content types if you don't have different content types for different content categories. The only thing you won't get this way is the option to prevent nonsensical tagging mentioned in the first option above.

    Finally, you can start tagging your content. Open each content item and select the appropriate term in the linked items element for taxonomy.

    A content item tagged by a taxonomy term represented by a linked content item.

    Use multiple choice element for taxonomy

    The third way to implement taxonomy is to use the multiple choice element set to radio buttons.

    ✅ Suitable for scenarios when:

    • You need exactly one term per tagged content item.
    • You want to tag content items with properties that don't fit into your taxonomy created using another approach.
    • You have a simple categorization.

    ❌ Unsuitable for scenarios when:

    • You want to filter content by taxonomy terms in the content list.
    • You have more than a simple flat taxonomy structure – this approach doesn't allow nesting terms.
    • You want to add other information to the terms themselves, such as their scope and definition.
    • You need to allow managing taxonomy also for content creators who don't have permission to edit the content model.

    Combine this with content types

    You can have a different set of terms in different content types. When you implement it this way, you get a combination of two approaches – broader terms are content types, more detailed terms are in the multiple choice elements.

    How to create taxonomy using multiple choice element

    Head over to Content Model and add a multiple choice element into the content types of the items you want to tag. Set the element to show as radio buttons to allow selecting only one term. Then, add the terms of your taxonomy as options into this element.

    If you want to tag content items of multiple content types with the same terms, create a content type snippet and add the multiple choice element into it. Then use the snippet in the content types in question. This helps if you later want to change your taxonomy – you need to do it only once in the snippet instead of doing it for each content type separately.

    Taxomomy implemented with the multiple choice element

    When you have the multiple choice element set up, open each content item you want to tag and select the term in the taxonomy multiple choice element.

    What's next?

    In this tutorial, you've learned there are three ways to implement taxonomy in Kontent. 

    • Use the built-in taxonomy functionality:
      • To filter content items by the taxonomy terms in the content list.
      • To reflect your website or app structure in Kontent.
    • Use content types and linked items to create taxonomy:
      • To enable content creators to manage taxonomy terms.
    • Use the multiple choice element for taxonomy:
      • When you have a categorization that doesn't fit into your regular taxonomy model.

    You can continue with the links below to discover more: