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.
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:
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:
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.
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 »