Blog Topic Tags and SEO
How to Effectively Use Blog Topic Tags
The short answer is to not to use too many blog topic tags for any given blog post and to have them focused on the blog post topic. The full answer allows you to really boost up the SEO value of your posts and to help engage your readers and to keep them on your site longer.
Topic tags can help organize your blog content, but if you find yourself “reaching” (trying too hard to associated a tag with the post) you may be trying too hard to tag your posts. Examine each tag closely and think about how to create and structure your tags to help your readers find content they are searching for. It’s all about your readers!
Also, some webmasters and blog writers have a misunderstanding about blog tagging and duplicate content. Some understand that multiple tags for a blog post will result in multiple pages being created for the same content and that this is bad. It is true that multiple pages will be created. However, it is not true that this is bad. Google and the other major search engines will not penalize your blog for this duplicate content.
In particular, if you have a WordPress site, do not worry about the search engines dinging you for duplicate content based on your blog tags. Here is what Google Webmaster Central says about duplicate content as it pertains to tags for blog posts:
From Google . . .
When we detect duplicate content, such as through variations caused by URL parameters, we group the duplicate URLs into one cluster. We select what we think is the “best” URL to represent the cluster in search results. We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.
This approach of clustering pages created by the use of tags, by Google, explains that they will detect the specific duplicate pages created by the individual tags but that they have a method for handling these duplicate content pages without using a penalty method.
Therefore, to be clear, your blog will create duplicate pages for each tag where the content for the topic tag will appear but the major search engines will not ding your blog for duplicate content.
OK, the confusion over duplicate content has been clarified.
Now let’s examine tag stuffing.
In my opinion there is a proliferation of “tag stuffing” (the baby brother of “keyword stuffing” for SEO), which essentially renders tagging useless in terms of effective navigation and SEO.
But the definition is quite simple. First, think of your blog categories as your blog’s table of contents, and tags as your blog’s index keywords.
Here is an example. You owned a recipes blog. Your recipes might be categorized by meal type (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dessert, etc), which gives the user a great starting point in finding what they want. These blog categories are user-friendly. A reader finds a great chicken dinner dish, and is interested in finding more chicken recipes on your blog. This is where a “chicken” tag, would be helpful to your blog reader. The chicken tag would be linked to every chicken recipe post on your blog. You will be making it easy for the reader to find your content and this is good for both you and the reader.
Do not use names for tags that are the same as the names of your blog’s categories. Blog categories and blog tags serve the different purposes. Use blog tags and blog categories to complement each other.
To select your topic tags properly is one of the exercises you need to conduct when you develop your content marketing plan. As you select your keyword phrases for your content planning also define your topic tags. Choose about 15-25 topic tags that you think are important to your company and that aren’t similar to each other. When you write a post then tag your posts with the keywords from your content marketing plan. By defining your tags as part of your content marketing plan you will be helping your content in search and also helping your readers once they have reached your blog.
Make your tags something that will be useful to your readers. A post marked with a proper tag (or tags) enables your readers to find the post more easily. The tag needs to be what the post is about – it needs to be focused. Be specific and do not frustrate your readers with too many tags where some may be a bit off topic.
If you are concerned that your existing blog posts many have some tags that are not as well related to the blog’s content then consider cleaning up your tags to make them focused and relevant.
Blogging can be an important part of your SEO and you can further enhance the effectiveness of your blog by sending proper signals to the search engines by using tags properly. Don’t use too many and make sure they are on topic.
I would even state that if you cannot see an obvious tags (or tag set) for a blog post then don’t tag it. Not every post needs to be tagged. However, linking to tag categories and blog categories can serve your readers. This is the primary rule – serve your readers well.
Here is an example – I will use my blog to illustrate this.
Someone visits my blog and starts reading a post on SEO. Halfway through the post the reader encounters this text:
If you’re seeking to improve your blog post SEO then I recommend that you check out our SEO and Blogging section (a specific blog category) here on this blog.
I set this link to open in a new window and the reader now has direct access to this material in the context of what the reader was reading. The link reveals the “SEO and Blogging” category on this blog to the reader.
Now let’s say the reader is particularly interested in learning how linking can help their SEO effort and comes across text later on in the post such as this:
The search engines place a heavy weight of the link profile of a page or website.
The above phrase could be another contextual link that points to the tag archives for “SEO and Linking”.
Both links above are great examples of how you can interlink to both category and tag pages in a way that benefits the reader and that helps your SEO. Generally speaking, the more you interlink on your blog, the more engaged your readers will be and you want to take every opportunity to keep them on your site and to keep them engaged.
Use your blog topic tags to help your blog perform in search and set up your blog tags to help your readers once they have arrived on your blog. This is effective use of blog tagging and everyone benefits!