How To Use Tags In WordPress

Tags may seem like a small part of your blog, but they are more important than you may realize. WordPress makes tagging your posts easy. Use them to their fullest potential.

Tags even make the robot happy. Image. [flickr. jdhancock/ Creative Commons]

I’m a happy tagger and I know it. [flickr. jdhancock/ Creative Commons]

The Great Tagging Adventure.

At only about seven posts published on this blog, I realized that my tags were out of control. The reason behind this problem was that I had never done my homework and didn’t realize how helpful these little words at the end of my posts could truly be.

How did I know my tags were becoming problematic? My list was already at around 45 tags, and they were not very specific. Some were actually pretty confusing without looking at the posts themselves. I knew my mission: wrangle all those crazy tags.

First, let’s go over the basics of tagging in WordPress.

Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org make adding and modifying your tags super-simple.

When writing a post through your WordPress dashboard, there is a box under “Categories” labeled “Tags.” As you can see from the image to the right, this box gives you the options to:

  1. Type in your own tags and add them to your post.
  2. Remove tags from the post my clicking the small “x” to the front of a tag.
  3. Choose from your most used tags by clicking on the “Choose from the most used tags” text to expand the tags box.
Adding tags to your posts is really that simple.

What gets a bit more challenging, however, is choosing which words to use, doing tag maintenance and learning the reasons behind tagging itself.

Why tag?

There are two main reasons to tag your blog posts:

  • Organize your site.
  • Help your site get indexed.
How tags help people navigate your site.

When planning out your blog (and when reevaluating your blog for ease of use) it’s important to look at how people can move around your site. You have your menu, but you also have categories and tags. Simply put:

“Categories are your site’s table of contents…Tags are your site’s index words.”–Lorelle via Lorelle on WordPress

Think of your blog as a book, with the categories giving a more general overview of the different types of posts on your blog and the tags being the more specific index. Just like an index in a book, tags can point people in the right direction to find the information they are looking for. And if people can navigate your blog easily, so can Google, leading to a better ranking.

How to tag effectively. 

Too many tags leaves your site a bit jumbled. Image. [flickr. venosdale/ Creative Commons]

Too many tags leaves your site a bit jumbled. [flickr. venosdale/ Creative Commons]

Keeping an organized blog is important, and tags help to organize your posts into groups of posts that all include that specific tag. It’s important to note though that tags and keywords are different. You want tags that are specific but will still apply to multiple posts. You also want tags to be unique.

Karen Clark has some basic tag rules that are simple and effective. Perfect.

  • Make your them short (a few words or a phrase).
  • Only use a few per post. Otherwise you will have a large tag pool for the amount of posts.
  • Make sure your tags are related to the content of your post.

You also don’t want a whole lot of unused and under-used tags floating around, so it’s important to go through your tags from time to time and weed out the ones that aren’t being used. This tag maintenance is like giving your site a nice spring cleaning and getting rid of stuff that is either old or no longer needed.

The proof is in the tagging.

After researching the benefits of proper tagging and how to tag correctly, I gave it a shot myself. Easier navigation through your site and content can only be beneficial. Below are the before and the after versions of my tag clouds to illustrate the effects of my quick tag overhaul. (Really, it only took about 10 minutes to run through my few posts, and now I created a system that can be applied to all future posts–huge time saver.)

Here’s how my tags looked before:
Tags Cloud Before. Image

Way too many, way too specific and a bit off-topic. [www.girlgoeswriting.com]

Here’s how my tags looked after:

Tags Cloud After. Image

Nice and to-the-point. [www.girlgoeswriting.com]

I probably even have a few too many tags for the amount of posts I have currently, but as my blog grows I will be able to delete the underused tags and update some of the others.

Do you tag your articles and have any tagging advice? Share it below.

 [Featured image via flickr. jdhancock/ Creative Commons]

 

One thought on “How To Use Tags In WordPress”

  1. Lorelle VanFossen says:

    Good work on your tags. Thanks for sharing the important lessons learned. So many get this confused. Good for you! Thanks.

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