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What are WordPress tags? How do they help with SEO?

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What are WordPress tags?

Tags play a vital role in organizing your content. WordPress tags and categories are some of the essential tools you can use to group posts on your website. Usually, tags are located under the post section or in the sidebar. When a visitor clicks a particular tag, WordPress opens an archive page (tag page) – indexing all the posts and custom post types that have the same tags. 

Why do I need tags?”- you can opt to not use them if you don’t require them. Yes, they’re completely optional! While tags are a choice, categories aren’t. 

“Why should I care about adding tags?”

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They have a direct impact on your user experience and SEO. There are several advantages to creating a website with tags and categories. For one, user experience significantly increases when your website looks professional and well-structured. But secondly, your website benefits from much more traffic derived from search engines.

So, if you’re interested in improving the user experience and boosting traffic to your site, read on to find out how you should optimize your site with tags in WordPress. 

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WordPress Tags Vs. Categories: What’s the difference?

For a blog, if categories are the table of contents, tags represent the index. To put it simply, both tags and categories are WordPress’ taxonomy– they classify your posts.

However, tags and categories are used differently. Here are the main differences:

1. Broad vs Specific

The main distinction comes from the size of the topic tags and categories cover. While categories cover broad topics from posts, tags cover only the specific and unique areas from them.

2. Necessary vs Optional

Another difference between these two is how mandatory they are for your website. Categories are necessary while tags are optional. 

If you don’t assign any category to a post, WordPress will automatically set it into the Uncategorized default category.

The default category name can be changed by going to the Settings> Writing from your dashboard admin. Apart from these differences, categories are hierarchical, while tags are not hierarchical.

For example, if we’re looking for pasta recipes, we might search Google for “pasta recipe”. In that example, “Recipes” could be a category, and “Pasta” could be a tag. Both are useful and functional taxonomies.

Although these two are different in their practical use, you can use both of them in your posts. A post may have one or two categories and plenty of tags. 

Three reasons why you shouldn’t use them

A lot of users forget these little features like tags and categories. We understand they seem a bit out of fashion, but there are more legitimate reasons why a website shouldn’t add tags or work with fewer tags.

Readers, bloggers & Google find tags annoying

When readers visit your site, they should know where to go. 

Now here’s when tags backfire. 

Let’s say a visitor is reading an article on your site, and below this article is 6 different tags that link to 6 different pages, each with random articles. 

As visitors click on each tag and land on a page, they’ll be clueless, why? Because they can’t make sense of the tag page’s information, it’s different for every page. All this randomness creates a terrible user experience. If your users don’t know what your site’s about, they won’t bother coming back.

The same thing happens to Google’s site crawlers: They can’t understand your site’s structure. And if they don’t get your site,  they’re not going to rank it.

Above all, tags are messy for bloggers themselves. They create useless links that take too much time to keep track of and maintain. 

Too many Thin Content Pages- 

When we think of tags we think of value-added to a website. By less-valued content, we refer to content that provides little to no substance or value to it. This ends in less user engagement on posts and directly affects the website. And Google doesn’t like it. 

Now, the typical Tag page has the title as “ Name of tag- Archives”. followed by a list of other blog posts.

Other than excerpts there is no other content on the page. And if there are fewer posts, especially in the case of new blogs or websites, Google doesn’t rank them.

Don’t worry, your website isn’t at risk if you carefully follow all the right measures. But you can imagine that it doesn’t benefit the overall quality of content on your site either.

Duplicate Content-

All the good content on the internet comes with its own risk of theft with other competitors.

It becomes confusing for Google to rank pages on your website when both of them look similar. As a result, none of them get ranked. 

The point here is that if you use too many random tags floating on your website, it will increase the risk of having duplicate content and downgrade its overall quality.

For example, if you have a category about food and also a tag with the same name, you will end up having two very similar pages within your site.

Important Note: 

It’s quintessential to always use excerpts, not complete posts. If your tag or display posts are in their entirety, this will heavily risk duplicate content. An excerpt from a few lines of short paragraphs is much better.

How to add tags in WordPress?

WordPress provides two easy ways of adding tags.

There are two simple ways to add tags in WordPress. First, you can add tags to your new blog post. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Add new tags using the Tag box on the right side of your screen.
how to add tags in WordPress

Secondly, you can add tags by going to Posts > Tags. You can also manage existing tags here. In addition to simply adding a new tag, you can also set or edit each tag’s URL slug.

How to add WordPress tags

How to display tags on your WordPress site?

Most WordPress themes automatically display tags assigned to a post. These tags are either shown at the beginning or end of the post. 

A WordPress Widget is easy to use as it displays all the tags that you’ve used on your site as a part of a tag cloud.  A tag cloud is a big list of tags used on your site, with more frequently used tags marked with larger texts.

These tags not only arrange your posts but improve the site’s usability and accessibility. Your website may be common in your niche but with the tag cloud, they can find interesting posts and subjects which aren’t on a competitor website.

Example of a tag cloud

Follow these simple steps to add the tag cloud widget:

  • From your admin dashboard, move to Appearance -> Widgets
  • Find the Tag Cloud widget from the Available Widgets area to the location where you want it to display. Usually, it is located on the sidebar.
  • Give it an optional title and how many tags you want to include in the cloud. Choose whether or not you want to show the actual count.

Sometimes you might want to exclude a tag regardless of its popularity.

To exclude a tag, follow thee steps:

  1. Go to Posts >Tags. Choose the tag you want to exclude.
  2. Now, take a closer look at your browser’s address bar and find the Tag ID. It is a number following tag_ID=.
  3. Copy tag ID and go back to Customizer > Widgets.
  4. Click on the tag cloud widget and open its settings.
  5. Paste the tag ID into the Exclude box.
  6. Click the Save button to finish the process.
WOrdpress Tags and SEO

WordPress tags and SEO Practices

When it comes to SEO, WordPress is the CMS to use. Once installed, WordPress comes with built-in SEO features like categories and tags to deal with search engines.

Each tag you use creates a separate archive page with a listing of all the tags. It’s a great feature for users as they can easily find similar content but

certainly not for search engines. This is because all your posts are listed on your main page as well as the individual post’s URL.

A better approach is to use the no index directive to tell Google not to index your tag archives.

In the next section, you will learn how to use no index WordPress tag, without damaging your SEO.

How To Noindex WordPress Tag Archives

The best way to overcome SEO problems is by using the no-index WordPress tag.

Yoast SEO plugin facilitates these search engines to ignore the tag pages while crawling through data.

Follow steps below to Noindex WordPress tag pages:

  • Click on Search Appearance 
  • Choose Taxonomies tab
  • Find Tags section
  • Under Show Tags in search results select no
  • Click the Save button to finish it.

Conclusion

WordPress tags are a great way to manage your content. It can help your readers find their preferred topics in an easy and fuss-free way. This increases your overall user experience.

Forget about using excessive, unnecessary tags and categories on your site. Focus on usability and ease of navigation, and you will reap the rewards.

Do you have any questions about WordPress tags or how to use them? Let us know in the comments section below!

Author avatar
Tim Michaels
I am into WordPress and web development for the last 10 years. I use my experience to help people just starting with WordPress. Follow my blog at WP Uber for everything related to WordPress.
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