I can’t believe it’s taking me so long to look into the topic of tags and how they can benefit our blogs. To be quite honest, I’ve been clueless on whether to use them or not to begin with or how to use them properly. Judging by the guest posts submissions I get and the tagging used in those posts, looks like I am not alone.
So, the questions of this post:
- what are tags?
- what benefit they bring?
- how to use them the right way.
What Are Tags?
A tag is simply a label or a keyword you assign to your post.
Are they the same as keywords? Yes and no.
Your tags COULD be the same as your keywords, but you can dig much deeper with your tags whereas you are limited with your post keywords to whatever feels natural to the reader. You should still optimize your posts for your chosen keywords.
When you add tags to a post (you do that in the “edit” mode in the right-hand column of your WP dashboard), you are basically telling your blog to automatically create new pages based on those tags.
Take a look at the image below; these are some of the tags I am thinking of assigning to this post:
So, in addition to creating a page for this post, my blog will automatically create 3 additional pages titled “what are tags“, “blogging tags“, and “keyword research“.
Should you bother using tags?
My main problem with tags was the fear of duplicate content.
Contrary to popular belief, duplicate content is not syndicating the same article to several directories. Duplicate content happens when Google finds different paths to the same content on your site.
For instance, the same post on your blog can be accessed via the main post page, category, archives – by month, day, year, whatever, etc. We the readers understand that it’s still the same article and have no problem finding it different ways.
However, to the search engines that’s the definition of the duplicate content.
Getting back to tags now. In my uneducated and unresearched opinion, tags would simply create yet another path to the same content.
What are the benefits of using tags?
When you use tags, you instantly create new pages for your blog that are fully indexable, searchable, and rankable. In other words, you create additional content that can bring search engine visitors.
The magic really happens when you start using the same tags over and over again. This way, you start sending more and more link juice to the tag pages, thus potentially increase their importance as far as search engines are concerned and hopefully get them ranked higher.
Let me also remind you that all of this happens behind the scenes without your active participation. All YOU need to do is to add proper tags to each post.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Tags
1. Research your tags like you would any keyword. What’s the point of ranking on search engines for something no one is searching for?
2. Use the same tags consistently.
3. Avoid duplicate content issues by displaying excerpts on your archive pages instead of full posts. You really want to give your readers just a hint of the content and direct them back to the original posts.
To accomplish that, open your archive.php of your theme and replace the_content with the_excerpt.
4. Track your tag performance.
Thanks to Google Analytics, it’s free and easy, and you have no excuse to not do it. Here are the instruction on how to set up your tracking.
From your dashboard, click on “Advanced Segments” in the left sidebar, then “Create New Custom Segment“.
Find “Landing page” in the drop-down menu under Dimensions => Content, and drag and drop it to the right.
Set condition to “Contains” and value to “/tag/“(WordPress default for tags).
You will also need to name your segment (“Tags” would be appropriate) and you are all set.
Now in order to check on your traffic from tags from your dashboard, all you do is click on “Advanced Segments” in your top right corner this time, check “Tags” segment and click “Apply“.
This is what you will see as a result:
As you can see from the graph, my tag traffic (orange line) is absolutely flat, since I haven’t paid any attention to tags in the past.
That’s all about to change now though.
Start using your tags the smart way today. Not much else to say. Unless you want to eat some hay. What do you say?