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How to Use WordPress Tags

Updated January 9, 2023
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How to Use WordPress Tags 702 Pros

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What is a WordPress Tag, and how does it work?

Tags are used to group your WordPress posts if you have a WordPress site. Like WordPress categories, you can associate one or more tags to each post.

Tags are often represented as links visitors can click to view additional posts related to the same tag.

Although tags are not mandatory, proper tagging allows your readers to find related content on your website. The tag list is another way to organize your content and make it easy for your readers to find it.

If WordPress Categories are a table containing the contents of your blog, then tags will be used as the index.

Common Tagging Problems to Avoid

While most WordPress users can understand categories the first time they use it, I am often confronted with sites with many tag-related problems. These are some of the most common themes that I see:

One-off tags

This is a common scenario.

This a great post by an author. It’s about how their local Ice Cream business helped a little league team with free gear this summer. The video interview with the children is very touching. The author reviews the article and selects the most relevant items.

  • Little League
  • Baseball
  • Sports
  • Charity
  • Community Support
  • Videos
  • The Town’s Name
  • The Team’s name
  • The Coach’s Name
  • Etc.

This is how it might make sense to some people. These terms describe the content of the post. This is because most of these tags if they are not all, may only apply to one post. This post could be the only one that talks about ‘baseball’ and sports on this website, even if it publishes 200 posts in the next few years.

Each tag in WordPress, just like category, generates an archive page that allows you to find all posts tagged with the tag. This would result in tag pages for baseball’ and sports that each has one post, which is the same post that they just read. This is not helpful to visitors.

If each post generates 5-10 unique tags, then after ten posts, we’ll have 50-100 tags. We will have 500 to 1000 tags available after the first 100 posts are published.

One website, a defunct fashion blog, had 900 tags in its first two years. Only 150 tags were used to tag more than one post out of 900. The other 750 tags were unique and only used once.

It is helpful for a book to have an index that only appears on one page. However, the WordPress search function takes over that function and allows you to find any word in any post.

Keywords are no tags

Many bloggers have been caught using tags to tag “keyword-stuff posts” with multiple keywords that they believe will increase search engine traffic. They claim that they are doing it for search engine optimization.

It doesn’t work this way.

It is better to choose a few tags that are most relevant to your post and to focus your writing around them. Then, incorporate them organically into your title, meta description, headers, and body copy. A post with more than two dozen tags will not generate many thin-content tag archives pages WordPress automatically generates for each tag.

Best Practices

Make a master tag list.

Every WordPress site should have a master tag list. Avoid tag creep.

This will help you focus your editorial vision. A solid editorial vision builds an audience.

Use tags to give visitors a second way to explore your content

WordPress categories are the primary way that your posts are organized and structured. Visitors can use tags to help them explore your content and increase their time on the site.

Let’s take, for instance, an online magazine about a city. These categories could include Culture, Events and Lifestyle, Dining, Business, etc. The communities within a city would make a useful tag list. You might use the category for regional events or happenings on your website and the tags for the city. Your categories could be different film genres, and your tags might differ for directors if you blog about film and filmmaking. That’s great!

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