How WordPress Tags Can Make or Break your Blog

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Adam Stokes explains the importance of utilising WordPress tags within your blog, including differentiating between tags and categories, the significance of consistency, and why the whole affair is organised very similar to that filing cabinet you have standing in the corner.

WordPress tags are fairly easy things to use, surely?

You simply throw a couple in the right box once you’ve finished your blog, using terms that you think like-minded readers are willing to search for in order to find it. Right?

In actual fact, tags don’t work in the way keywords do, and hold very little value when it comes to search engine optimisation. WordPress tags thrive when used correctly throughout an entire blog, but can become counterproductive and even detrimental to your blog if not utilised in the right way. They are designed to let readers know what your blog is about and to help them find similar blogs on the same topic or idea.

The Difference Between Categories and Tags

Understanding the difference in hierarchy between categories and tags automatically begins to make tagging a whole lot easier. So, what’s the difference?

Let’s take a website that sells clothing. Naturally, its blog will feature content about trends, offers and company news. If a blog doesn’t fit into any of its established categories, then it is unlikely to be relevant. However, if you find that you are coming up with a number of increasingly relevant blog ideas that don’t appear to fit into these categories but are all similar in content, then it may be worth considering adding a new category.

tag box

You’ve written your blog about fashion trends, so how do we tag it? Well, is it about seasonal trends? Footwear trends? A specific new style that is growing in popularity (and will consequently continue to have content focused around it)? Anything that could fit within a subject that has a significant amount of content already written for it – or will definitely continue to have some in the future – can be used as a tag. If you know that a tag hasn’t been used before, and isn’t going to be used again, then using it is pointless.

Your Blog is a Cabinet. Your Category is a Drawer. Your Tag is a Folder

Picture your blog as a giant filing cabinet, with drawers for each category, and folders for each tag within those drawers. A folder with only one entry in it is a waste of space. A folder with hundreds and hundreds of entries in becomes futile in helping organise and separate pieces of content from each other. The folders within the cabinet are most successful when they actively separate content based on topic, and when there is enough content on each topic to permit the use of a folder.

Tag cloud

Tag clouds are often used as visual aids to help distinguish the most prominent folders within your cabinet, by emphasizing the most important tags via differentiating the font size or colour. These words will contain the highest volume of blogs relating to that topic, and are easily outlined for users to see what is popular within your site.

Duplication, Duplication, Duplication

Once you begin incorporating your tags correctly, making sure that all tags are consistent with one another in spelling, capitalisation and format is essential for keeping your blog neat and tidy. Having one tag for ‘Autumn Trends’ and another for ‘autumn trends’ will be understood as two separate tags, therefore splitting the content. Making a hard and fast rule before you begin will help to make sure that all tags are used correctly. Usually, agreeing on lower case is the easiest way of doing this to avoid any duplication in the future.

Paper dolls

Knowing the purpose behind a tag makes it much easier to implement. Your user wants to read a blog about men’s loafers, and then click the tag provided to find similar content on that topic. If they click it and are provided with too much – or not enough – information on that topic, then the tag can be deemed ineffective.

Are you using WordPress tags in your blog correctly? Do a sweep of your blog and see how tidy your cabinet is today.

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