Tagging posts properly for users and SEO

Tagging posts properly for users and SEO

September 14th, 2016 – 7 Comments

Tags for a post can be hard to choose: in this post I’ll explain why they’re important and how to choose them. One of the hardest things as your site becomes bigger is creating and maintaining a site structure that actually makes sense. Tags and categories can help create that structure, allowing people to easily find the posts that interest them.

When you use tags the wrong way, you can make it harder for people to navigate your site. This isn’t just bad for users: using tags in the wrong way can be detrimental for your site’s SEO. Let me explain: we’ll first dive into what adding a tag does, followed by a good process for choosing them.

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What happens when you add a tag?

When you add a tag to a post, that post is added to that tag’s archive. For instance, we have a tag page for keyword research. When I add a “keyword research” tag to this post, it is added to that archive. That is, of course, very useful: people browsing for keyword research posts can easily find it.

When you add a tag to a post that hasn’t been used before, WordPress automatically creates a tag archive. If you tag very liberally, adding 10-20 tags to each post, each of them unique to each post, you’re creating dozens of archive pages. If each of those archive pages only has 1 or 2 posts on them, they’re not very useful. In fact, we’ve seen plenty of sites that had an overload of tag pages get hit by Google’s Panda update.

Conclusion: you shouldn’t add too many tags to a post. You shouldn’t use tags that don’t relate the current post to any other post. So how do you choose tags?

How to choose your tags

When you are planning your blog posts, you’ll probably have some over-arching themes. Those themes are probably your best tags. The questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Which other posts is this blog post related to?
  • Which tags that those other posts (should) have explain the relation best?
  • Is that the best keyword choice for this topic?

You shouldn’t make up tags, they should be existing words or phrases. Words people already search for. We optimize most of our tag pages to rank well too. Our Yoast SEO plugin can help you to do so. The content analysis runs a check on your tag archive content, and tells you how to improve it:

content analysis of tag pages in yoast seo

Moreover you can add a Facebook and Twitter image and description to enhance the sharing experience of your tag page. In Yoast SEO Premium you can even see what it will look like when shared: screenshot-at-sep-14-11-13-56

How to further optimize tag and category pages we’ve explained before, so I won’t go into it here. What you should remember is that when you’re doing your keyword research, deciding something is going to be a tag is a valid choice!

When you’ve decided on tags, you can quickly look at those tag archives too. This will help you find posts that you can link to from within your current post, to help visitors find related content even more easily.

Conclusion

When you write your blog post, think about your tags. Don’t make it a 2 second after thought. The good thing about thinking about your tags is that it also immediately helps you find other posts to link to. Good luck with your tagging!

Read more: ‘How to clean up your site structure’ »


7 Responses to Tagging posts properly for users and SEO

  1. Bill
    By Bill on 19 September, 2016

    The recommendation to plan your blog posts is something that is too often over-looked. So many people get in a hurry and don’t take the time to think through what they want to post and the tags can be an afterthought. When used properly, tags can provide a great benefit for readers.

  2. Brian
    By Brian on 17 September, 2016

    which is the best? using in category or using the tags ?
    when we collected article and group it to category, that will look better than being tagged.
    hmmm,

  3. Thabo Tswana
    By Thabo Tswana on 16 September, 2016

    Excellent advice! I always advise my clients not to use too many tags but you give a much better explanation as to why.

  4. Kamelia B
    By Kamelia B on 16 September, 2016

    A very useful post about proper use of tags. I read through all the linked content. It could not have come at a better time for me. I’m about to launch my blog from next month.Now I can organise my Categories and Tags from SEO perspective from the very begining.

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Ray Grau
    By Ray Grau on 14 September, 2016

    ALWAYS useful info – thank you so much for taking the time to write this up! Passing it on.

  6. Andrea Torti
    By Andrea Torti on 14 September, 2016

    Too many tags are confusing for readers, too – personally speaking, I feel anxious whenever I visit a tag-crowded site!


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