Last updated August 7th, 2022 at 06:04 pm
When I first started blogging, I made lots of mistakes. One of those mistakes was how I assigned blog tags — which was based on my understanding (misunderstanding) of what post tags are and how they work.
How I Initially Used Blog Tags
I’d choose a word or short phrase that described a topic the post covered, and then I’d come up with as many synonyms and variations as I could.
For example, if I wrote a blog post about woodworking, I’d assign all these tags:
Working with Wood
Making Things with Wood
You get the idea.
I thought post tags were supposed to help people find my blog posts in search engines.
I thought the words and phrases I chose for post tags were like the keyword variations I might use in a Google Adwords campaign.
I was wrong, and maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
I Saw the Light
Post tags (and categories) are not for search engines. They are for people who are already on your Web site. Their purpose is to make it easier for your visitors to navigate around and find content they’re interested in. (Tagging a blog post with multiple variations of a key word or phrase actually makes it harder for visitors to navigate your site.)
I’ve learned (from helpful articles like this one) that categories and tags — even when used “properly” — have little direct impact on SEO. What they can impact is the ability of search engine bots to assess the structure of your Web site, and that can indirectly help your SEO.
At some point, I saw the light. I’m not sure when, why, or how. And I must admit that I’m still learning, still evolving. I’ll often go back and edit old posts to use “better” categories and tags.
Choosing Blog Tags is More Art Than Science
Beware: the task of choosing tags (and categories) is more art than science. I don’t have a formula for you.
What I do have is this bit of advice:
Check out my other posts about categories and tags (the two default taxonomies supported by WordPress and other blogging platforms).
The categories and tags you use to describe your blog posts are not about search engine optimization. Their purpose is to make it easier for the people who are already on your Web site to navigate around and find content they’re interested in. When you’re tagging your blogs posts, you’re not publishing a thesaurus or creating a search engine ad campaign — you’re creating signposts.