A WordPress tag is one of the default tools you can use to categorize your WordPress posts. Each post can contain multiple tags and visitors can click on a tag to find similar posts that have that same tag.
Unlike WordPress categories, tags are completely optional. That is, you’re free to add WordPress tags to your post, but you can also publish a post without tags. The choice is yours!
But the key part here is that categories and tags offer up opportunities for increased engagement and traffic that most bloggers waste. There are many benefits to creating and maintaining a well thought out category and tagging system when blogging. For one, the user experience can be vastly improved by well-constructed navigational elements. But secondly, categories and tags offer an opportunity to increase traffic to your site via search engines.
WordPress website tags – search result appearance
This is how tag pages get featured or highlighted in search results. Which brings the users to “tag” archive page. Tag archive page highlights all the posts linked to that particular tag. The UI or content that gets visible might looks different, but here is how it may look like.
WordPress website tags archive page
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 categories and tags in WordPress.
You might be thinking, if I keep writing the same content in the tags pertaining to the same blog posts, will the search engines penalize me for the same?
What About Duplicate Content Penalties?
Before we start, let’s push this little issue to one side.
Google (and other major search engines) will never penalize a WordPress site for having archive pages that publish and point to the same content. They confirmed this way back in 2008. When Google comes across duplicate content, their algorithm will adjudge which version is the original, and place that above the alternative options.
There is in reality just one valid reason why you might choose to noindex taxonomy/archive pages — when the pages are of no use to searchers (e.g. date based archives). If a page is of potential use to a searcher, it should be included within the index.
I would recommend that you keep your post’s content to excerpt length when published on taxonomy and archive pages. Not only will this resolve any duplicate content/devaluation issues, it will make for more easily browseable pages.
How to Categorize and Tag
If you are in any doubt as to the difference between categories and tags, if categories are the table of contents for your blog, tags represent the index. And as you will know if you have ever read a book with an index, it can really come in handy.
The key to categorizing and tagging your content is rooted in the old contradictory axiom, “Less is more”. You must strike a good balance between offering as few options as possible, whilst giving the reader a choice that they will be satisfied with. Furthermore, you must always remember that each and every page on your site should have a useful purpose. You shouldn’t tag a page for the sake of tagging a page — you should do so because grouping posts by that particular tag could be of use to a reader.
An easier way to think about it is this — all categories and tags should represent a keyword that a reader would potentially search for. For example, if I’m looking for a chicken recipe, I might search Google for “chicken recipe”. In that example, “Recipes” could be a category, and “Chicken” could be a tag. Both are useful and functional taxonomies.
Don’t go overboard when categorizing your content. A post should typically be in no more than one or two categories, and tagging should be limited only to the most relevant topics covered in the post. Furthermore, if you find no obvious way in which you can tag a specific post, don’t tag it. Not every post needs tagging.
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