You’re creating great content, but you know that’s just the first step. People need to see that content for it to be useful. So now you’re looking for a way to make your blog posts more visible. After some poking around on the internet, you found several references to blog tags for SEO.
Could this be the solution to your visibility problem? Could adding tags improve your search engine optimization and help visitors find content on your site? Not so fast. There’s more you should know.
Blog tags vs. categories
If your site uses some kind of content management system, the odds are good that it’s built on WordPress. Among sites that use a CMS 63% of sites rely on WordPress to organize and publish content.
You’ve probably noticed that WordPress lets you add both categories and blog tags for SEO. At least, they seem to be for SEO purposes. Let’s take a look at how each one can be used.
Imagine your content is a recipe book. At the front of the book, you’ll probably find an index. It might have broad categories like Appetizers, Cakes, and Salads. When you need to cook dinner for your family, you can skip right to the Entrees section of your cookbook.
Categories on a website work the same way, helping visitors find content that fits a broad subject area. For example, our website has categories for animation, video marketing, and social media.
Blog tags work more like an index. When chosen carefully, they’re a little more focused. Instead of a broad category like Cakes or Social Media, tags get more granular to help users find a carrot cake recipe or content about TikTok.
Why you shouldn’t use blog tags for SEO
The problem is, your site already has an index. Google indexes your site and uses the map it makes of your content to serve up exactly what visitors are looking for. Tags, and the pages created by them, may actually make SEO worse for three reasons:
- Tags are turned into tag pages. If you’ve ever clicked on a search result only to find a list of articles rather than one with a succinct answer to your question, you know why this isn’t a good thing. Visitors want quick answers. Ask them to make too many choices and they might just look somewhere else.
- It makes your website navigation more complex for crawl bots. Confusing them is not in your best interest. These bots are the ones who map your site so Google and other search engines can serve up results.
- They generate pages that look like duplicate content. Search engines might think that a page made up of all the content with a particular tag is duplicate content.
Why do people think they need blog tags for SEO?
The internet changes quickly. Just a few years ago, it made sense to use blog tags for SEO. Search engines were less sophisticated, and visitors relied on tags to help them find related content. That’s why you’ll still find older blog posts recommending the use of blog tags for SEO.
Today, search engines have improved. Google’s Panda update in 2011, started the evolution that has made blog tags for SEO obsolete. Now most search engines are sophisticated enough that tags are no longer useful.
You may even have a search bar on your site that allows visitors to find content by keyword, making tags doubly redundant.
If blog tags for SEO don’t work, should I stop tagging content?
You probably shouldn’t expect tags to improve SEO on your blog, but there is another reason you might want to use them. Tags can help you, and anyone else who manages your content, to stay organized.
For sites with hundreds of blog posts, tags can form part of a cataloging system to help you easily find what you’re looking for.
If you use tags for this purpose, make sure you set the resulting tag pages to noindex and nofollow. This will prevent web crawler bots from cataloging the tag pages as part of your website. Basically, it puts an “employee’s only” sign on your tag pages.
Blogspot offers a useful guide for how to set noindex and nofollow. You can also find wordpress plugins that help you adjust settings without having to edit any code.
Can tags improve user experience?
In some cases and on some sites, tags can help your visitors find content. Just remember to keep it simple.
Don’t create new tags for every post. You should use tags to group ideas. A tag that links to just one or two posts isn’t very helpful.
Don’t use more than three tags. Your tags should tell visitors what the whole post is about. For example, we mentioned TikTok earlier, but tagging this post “TikTok” probably wouldn’t add value for our visitors.
What it will do is increase your bounce rate (something Google does care about) and reduce your credibility with visitors.
Do consider your users. Tags exist only to help users find what they’re looking for. It’s okay not to tag a post if you don’t have one that’s useful.
Using tags thoughtfully
This bottom-up approach to content is how you should create every article, because while it’s important to categorize and optimize, keep in mind that all this SEO stuff is ultimately to get the right content in front of the right user to create leads and grow your business.
Of course, all of this only matters if you have quality content that people are looking for. Contact the video marketing experts at IdeaRocket to start making videos for your website, social media, and beyond.