The Question of the Hour: Do Blog Tags Affect SEO?
Lately, we here at build/createhave been experimenting with blog tags and categories. Our goal has been to understand how we can use them to improve UX, and also to see if there are ways we can gain an SEO benefit from them as well.
To understand the importance of blog tags for SEO, it’s necessary to think about the user’s path down a sales funnel. When a web user is in the exploration stage, they are looking for a certain query via search engine or social networks. The goal of SEO is to help users discover relevant content as they search for it on these channels. Blogs are an important way of achieving this end goal. When a user follows a search on Google to a blog page, the goal is to keep them on the website by feeding them more relevant information. Blog tags do this by helping users find more blogs on the site related to the one that brought them there in the first place.
A blog tag is a phrase or word that describes the content of the blog post. For example, if you are writing a technology blog about the top 10 tech gifts for this holiday season, you might include tags such as “Christmas presents”, or “holiday tech gifts.” It would also be a good idea to tag some of the popular gifts included in your list such as “Fitbit” or “Apple Watch,” but only if you thought you would be writing about those topics (and therefore using those tags) again in the future.
Tags are a great way to organize the content of your blog, but they also provide an SEO opportunity. The question is, how can you use this to your advantage without compromising the user experience?
5 ways you can use SEO to improve your tagging strategy.
Blog Tags do influence SEO and help with keyword rankings. Every time a blog is “tagged,” that tag then creates a new page in WordPress that becomes indexed and ranked on search engines. Once these pages are built, this gives SEO specialists the opportunity to build links on these pages and rank for additional keywords that aren’t in your original post.
These new pages need optimization, which is where your SEO specialists come in. Here are 5 ways SEO can help you create a more user-friendly tagging strategy.
1. Use keyword research to improve your tags.
It is in good practice to do some keyword research to find potential tags have a decent search volume. Keyword research can help you find tags that might draw in search traffic, so that instead of using the tag “content” you would use “content marketing” or “content strategy.”
The strategy we use here at build/create began with defining the keywords we want our clients to rank for, and then including them in our list of content tags. From there, when we create content and blog posts, we select four to five tags from our tag list that best represent and describe our post. That way we are keeping our tags organized as well as giving our keywords a little boost.
2. Make sure the URL structure of your tag archives is set up correctly.
The URL structure of the tag is an overlooked aspect of SEO, but really has some underlying benefits. To appeal to the all-mighty king of search engines, Google, make sure that your tag archives are set up correctly by following these guidelines.
- Focus primarily on the keyword tag itself and do not add unnecessary words to the URL. Such as, if the blog tag is “Content Marketing Michigan” you do not need to add stop words to the URL such as “Content Marketing inMichigan”. The word “in” doesn’t add meaning and is considered extra, or a stop word in the URL and when utilizing search.
- Avoid punctuation when setting up the tag URL. Question marks or exclamation points are very confusing for search engines and will negatively impact your user’s attention.
- Consider using shorter tags that do not exceed 73 characters. If the tag URL exceeds that character mark, the URL tag will be considered too long and more difficult to be indexed by search engines
3. Make sure the tag in the URL matches the title of your tag page.
The most important guideline in the URL structure is making sure the tag URL matches the tag page. This will create consistency between the URL and the tag which helps boost rankings. By practicing this SEO rule, you will build trust with your users as well as with Google. The user expects that, by clicking on the URL, they will be taken to a page with a title to match.
Now, back to the example “Content Marketing Michigan.” By utilizing that keyword in the URL, www.website.com/tags/content-marketing-michigan, and having the tag match the name on that given archive page, you are practicing consistency and creating a SEO-friendly URL and site.
4. Don’t confuse tags with categories.
Categories and tags in your website blog section are very similar. They are both means of keeping your blogs very well organized, which is of great benefit for the user. Categories allow them to navigate through broad subjects that are of interest to them, whereas tags are more specific, and can help users narrow in on subjects they want to learn more about.
When using tags and categories for SEO, remember that when you choose to use the same terms for both tags and categories, these will be labeled as duplicates. This means that WordPress will then create a page for both the category and tag for the same term, which is not necessary, and will cause more work for your SEO specialists.
To avoid duplicate content issues, you can display a small intro on the archive pages which will entice your readers to click through to more posts. Also, make sure to pick single or plural versions of terms for your tags and categories such as “Dress” or “Dresses.” This tactic will cut down on duplicates as well.
5. Use tags to build an internal linking strategy.
Internal links helps build your website ranking by guiding web visitors through your site and drawing them toward key content pieces. Blog tags also create awareness by helping your website rank with keywords that you have strategically defined. As mentioned earlier, when you create a tag, WordPress creates a page for said tag and indexes that page. When that page is created and indexed, it is obviously created with a URL. Now you can build an internal linking strategy based on these tags.
By doing so, when your content writers and SEO specialists start using the same list of tags consistently, they will create a stronger network of internal links to your tag pages. This process will increase the value of these key terms in the eyes of search engines, which will then allow your content to be seen by more people as they work their way along the inbound marketing funnel.
Tags are about UX first, but SEO can optimize your tag archive pages and bring in more traffic.
When a user lands on your website, you want to give them the best experience possible. You wouldn’t open the doors to your store with messy unorganized shelves, right? Same goes for your website. By keeping your tag archive pages organized, optimized, and URL friendly, you are going to bring in more users who understand the purpose of your content and will lead them to navigate through it more efficiently because of the time previously spent in setting up those blog tags.