As a blogger, chances are you've heard of blog tags before. But what are blog tags? And how should you use them? Should you use them at all? Are there any SEO advantages to using blog tags, or does it hurt your site?
In this blog post, I share 10 things every blogger needs to know about blog tags.
1. WHAT ARE BLOG TAGS?
Let's start by aligning on what a blog tag is.
Blog tags are short (1-3 words) labels used to describe the content of your blog posts. When attaching a tag to your blog post, you create a way for your reader to find other blog posts with the same label, which can be extremely helpful when you have a lot of content on your website.
However, there are also a few pitfalls with blog tags that could potentially create issues for both your readers and SEO. Let's go through them!
2. BLOG TAGS SHOULD COMPLEMENT CATEGORIES (NOT DUPLICATE THEM)
The first pitfall that I see many bloggers fall into is that they create identical categories and tags.
The difference between tags and categories is their purpose. Generally, blog categories are used to organize your blog content into different groups, which are often displayed in the navigation menu of the blog. They provide an easy way for your reader to get an overview of the topics you write about and a way for them to quickly navigate to the categories/topics they're interested in.
Tags, on the other hand (and as already mentioned), are generally used to label blog posts to create an additional way for readers to find other posts with the same blog tags, regardless of which category it's in.
What you don't want to do is have both a tag and a category called “dessert,” for example, if you're a food blogger. Or a “travel tips” category and a “travel tips” tag if you're a travel blogger. Duplications like this only confuse the reader since it's not immediately clear what the difference is between the tag and the category. Search engines also get confused when there are duplications like this, so always use unique terms for your categories and tags.
The thing with tags and categories is that they're easily confused because of their similarities, but they do have different purposes.
So how DO you differentiate your blog tags vs categories?
There are many different ways you can do it, and it ultimately depends on your readers and what they would naturally search for on your website.
Let's take an example.
Let's say that you run a fashion blog and generally write about wardrobe tips, new season previews, and fashion tips on a budget. These could be your blog categories, and you may display these on your top menu bar so your readers can easily find what they're looking for.
But to further help your readers, you may want to indicate which fashion styles you cover in each post, which is when blog tags come in handy. You can create a tag for each fashion style, such as vintage, boho, and rocker styles.
Now your reader can click on the tag link and see all the posts related to a specific fashion style, regardless of which category you stored it in.
3. Tags are not the same as keywords
Another thing bloggers sometimes stumble on is blog tags vs. keywords, so let's clarify these two.
Keywords are words or phrases people enter into search engines when looking for something specific. For example, someone might search for “best smoothie recipes” or “healthy breakfast ideas.”
Blog tags, as previously mentioned, are a way to label your post to classify them and describe specific details or themes within the article and to create an easy way for readers to find other blog posts with the same details/themes.
They're not meant to be keyword phrases that people would search for in a search engine, although there may be some overlap in some cases. For example, you may want a “smoothies” tag and a “healthy breakfast ideas” tag on your blog, and that's okay! As long as it makes sense for your readers (and it makes it easier for them to find the content they want to read).
The point is – the goal with blog tags and keywords is different. The latter is for ensuring that your post gets found in search, while the former aims to make it easier to navigate your site.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERUSE TAGS IN YOUR BLOG POSTS
Several years ago, the tagging best practice was to load our blog posts with tags in the same way we're loading our Instagram posts with hashtags these days – to ensure maximum reach.
However, in 2023 this is no longer considered effective. In fact, using too many tags on a blog can be seen as spammy and unhelpful and it may even hurt your SEO because chances are that at least some of the tags won't be relevant to the content on the page. Or have similar or duplicate meanings which can be confusing for both readers and search engines.
Also, with that many tags to add to each blog post, you're making it unnecessarily hard for yourself, which brings me to the next thing you should to know about tags as a blogger.
5. Each blog tag has its own archive page
Have you ever read a blog post and clicked on a tag hoping to read more relevant content, only to be shown an archive page with only the post you just read? (*raises hand*)
If you have, I'm sure you'll agree that it didn't leave you with a good impression of that blog. Right?
Whenever you create a new tag, WordPress automatically creates an archive page.
Many new bloggers don't realize this and happily create several tags on their new blog with the good intention of using them in their posts (but never do) because they've read somewhere that you need to have tags on your blog.
Only create tags you plan to use because you want to quickly fill those archive pages with content.
6. Search engines don't care about tags (but they can still be useful for SEO)
Search engines don't look at tags when determining SERP rankings.
However, that doesn't mean tags can't be useful for SEO. They totally can!
When you have a structure that only contains a few super relevant blog tags and where every archive page is filled with content for readers to immerse themselves in, they can have an indirect SEO benefit because you tend to see an increase in engaged sessions when a website is well structured.
And guess what? Engaged sessions are something that search engines DO pay attention to when determining site rankings.
If your site is new, go easy on the blog tags (and you might even want to skip them altogether) – all you need is an organized blog category structure.
But if your blog is established and you have a lot of content, then you can absolutely use blog tags to help your readers navigate your site.
7. Name your tags based on what the reader would naturally search for on your blog
If you're using blog tags, make sure to give them a clear and descriptive name. And a name that would be something your reader would naturally search for on your blog.
We've already discussed blog categories and tags for a fashion blog, so let's take another example – a food blog.
Let's say you write about these main topics; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. In other words, these are your categories.
In that scenario, it would be easy to assume that a reader looking for “lunch” recipes could search for something like “vegan” or “gluten-free,” depending on their dietary preference. So you could set up a tagging structure where you have a tag for each dietary choice, making them easily discoverable.
8. Use tags to create themed content collections
When you use tags correctly, they become themed content collections, which is a great way to draw in new readers and keep existing ones coming back for more.
I have several blogs that I follow where I've bookmarked specific tag archive pages, so I can easily keep myself updated on the topic (without having to go through the entire blog section to find it).
So take some time to think about how you can use tags to really enhance your blog content and make it easier for your readers to find what they're looking for. This brings us to the next important point.
9. If you have a lot of underutilized tags, you can (and should) remove them
If you find you have tags you hardly ever use, remove them!
Not only will this avoid a situation where you're sending readers to archive pages with only a few blog posts. You also avoid having pages that search engines may consider thin content.
So be sure to regularly audit your blog tags and remove any that aren't being used or are too general. This will keep your content organized, relevant, and easier for readers to find.
10. Adding tags to your WordPress blog post is easy.
Adding new tags to your blog post is easy.
You can either create the tag directly in the post editor as you are writing your blog post or you can set it up in via the WordPress dashboard.
Here's how you do it:
In summary, using tags effectively on your blog can be a powerful tool for helping your readers find and engage with your content. In addition, when used right, they send indirect signals to search engines that your site is relevant and high-quality.
And with the proper structure in place, your tags can help increase the visibility of your blog and drive traffic to your site for years to come!
As always, share your comments, thoughts, or questions below.
Until next time,