How to Use Tags for WordPress SEO

If you are a bit confused about how to use tags for WordPress SEO, trust me, you are not alone.  I am often asked if tagging posts is even worth the bother and the answer is YES, but only if you use WordPress and tag your posts smartly.

WordPress Post tags are so often confused with keywords and therefore, alot of redundant tags are created for the same topic. When this happens, saturation of overused tags are created, which won’t garner topic authority for any of your tags.

Bottom line – Be smart. Don’t get tag slap happy with post tagging because with tags more isn’t always better.

Hot Topic Navigation

All content management systems like WordPress use tags and most social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Myspace use tags to identity videos, pictures, music, etc. Tags are where it’s at so you need to know how to use tags properly.

If you have an organized and uniform, tag cloud on your sidebar, tags offer site visitors a quick and easy way to navigate through topics of interest.  They CLICK on a tag and are brought to an archival page of related article excerpts tagged in the exact same way – A quick and easy scan of information.

Your average site visitor is not going to wade through months of post archives to find what they’re looking for, no matter how amazing your content is, so make it easy to navigate. In two blinks of an eye, they will move onto an easier site to navigate.

Uniformity is Key for Tag Topic Authority and Usability

Tags can help build your website topic authority if you allow tags to be indexed and use them correctly. Tag uniformity is important so get into the habit of choosing from “most used tags”  rather than make redundant tags for the same topic. Tags are also case sensitive so make all your tags upper case or lower case and stick to it.

Let’s say for example that you write a post about foreclosures in North Carolina and tag your post “Foreclosures North Carolina.”  Down the road you write another post and tag it North Carolina Foreclosures. Further down the road you write another post and tag it “foreclosures (lower case f) North Carolina.”

In the above example, three separate tag feed pages were created for the exact same topic and tag topic authority was diluted.  Not only that, when a visitor clicks on ”Foreclosures North Carolina“ within the tag cloud, they access only those posts tagged in the exact same way, even though there maybe other posts on the same topic, tagged in a slightly different way.

Post Tags, how to use tags, the importance of tags Cleaning Up Your Tags and Tag Cloud

If your tag cloud is messy and filled with a lot of redundant tags, I highly recommend that you do a little tag house cleaning.  Yes, this may seem like a tedious task, but trust me, the topic authority and usability benefits you will garner from taking a few steps back and fixing your tags so your tag cloud is pretty and neat will be worth the effort.

Neat and Pretty Tags and Tag Cloud

The tag cloud to the right, created by, is a good example of how a tag cloud should look .  The tags are neat, organized, uniform and geo-targeted (real estate).  Nice job StynesGroup. You get it!

Opening up Tags or Categories in Your Sitemap and SEO Settings

Either categories OR tags should be indexed, never both. You can choose what you allow in your XML Sitemap under ”Sitemap Content.”  Next, make sure “Use No- index for Archives” and “Use No-index for Categories”  is checked and “Use No-index for Posts” is unchecked.

When to Use Tags or Categories

If you publish 2 to 3 blog posts per week, I recommend indexing tags.  If you are only able to write 1 to 4 blog posts per month,  I recommend indexing categories.  Again, choose one or the other, not both.  If you choose to open up tags to search engines, make sure that your tag archival pages display post excerpts  (400 characters or less) rather than the entire post to avoid duplicate content and usability issues (it’s not all about SEO).

Setting WordPress for Tags

If you are blogging on a Genesis WordPress framework (highly recommended) or another updated version of WordPress, you can choose “Display Post Excerpts” in Archives under Theme Settings.  The content archives option will affect any blog listings page including:  archive, author, blog, category, search and tag pages.  If you are running an older version of WordPress, you can modify your archives.php or use an archive limit content plug in.

That’s my story on how to use tags for WordPress.  Hope it helps!!

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  1. dirtyblue widgets says:

    How exactly are you limiting the search engines to either spidering the tags or the category pages? Are you doing it within WordPress itself or are you using a robot text file to lead the robots where you want?

  2. Sebastiaan says:

    If I use the NotDoFollow plugin at Firefox I see that the spider can follow both tag link and categorie links. Yet you recommend closing one of them…

    Are you using a robot file or is there a reason why you allow SE spiders to spider both tag cloud and categories?

  3. Useful information about tags, especially tag cleaning and tag clouds.

  4. First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had
    a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Kudos!

  5. Thanks. I have not been using tags on my blog and I am thinking about it. For now I think categories may be better for me because I post about 4 or less articles per week. I am not sure if I have indexed both categories and tags… I have to look into this.

  6. Hello,
    Useful information about tags, especially tag cleaning and tag clouds, thanks foe all the informations.

  7. Did some experimenting over the weekend with my site and reviewed my tag structure and noticed a big difference within a couple of days! Definitely going to review my clients sites!!

  8. I enjoyed reading your article.Learned a lot and will apply the knowledge.Thank you.

  9. A very informative post..Thanks.

  10. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to
    my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.

  11. Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this website needs a great deal
    more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!

  12. I like it when people get together and share thoughts.
    Great blog, stick with it!

  13. Initially I was confused about using tags in my blog post.Now I think tag should be used for SEO purpose and better visibility in search engine.Nice post


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