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The Dos and Don’ts of Tagging Your WordPress Blog Posts

The Dos and Don’ts of Tagging Your WordPress Blog Posts

Tagging is an easy and effective way to organize blog posts in WordPress. After creating a new blog post in the content management system (CMS), you can tag it. Tagging involves the use of keywords, known as tags, to group related blog posts together. Visitors can click a tag at the bottom of a blog post — or in a sidebar widget — to find other blog posts with the same tag.

What are WordPress Tags?

Tagging is an easy and effective way to organize blog posts in WordPress. After creating a new blog post in the content management system (CMS), you can tag it. Tagging involves the use of keywords, known as tags, to group related blog posts together. Visitors can click a tag at the bottom of a blog post — or in a sidebar widget — to find other blog posts with the same tag.

Do Use Tags on All Blog Posts

If you’re going to use tags, you should use them on all of your blog posts. Each blog post should have a set of tags. When visitors see tags at the bottom of a blog post, they’ll expect to find them on other blog posts.

Using tags on some blog posts but not all of them will confuse visitors. Visitors may look at the bottom of a blog post, only to discover that it doesn’t contain tags like the rest of your blog posts.

Don’t Match Tags with Categories

Tags shouldn’t match categories. While they serve the same general purpose of organizing blog posts, they aren’t the same. Tags are different than categories. They are designed to convey specific keywords. Categories, conversely, may or may not convey specific keywords.

In WordPress, you can create multiple levels of categories. Parent-level categories typically convey generic keywords, whereas child-level categories convey specific keywords. Hierarchy isn’t available for tags. And with their flat taxonomy, you shouldn’t create tags that are an exact match of your blog posts’ categories.

Do Ensure Relevancy

Tags should be relevant to your blog posts. After all, they are used for organizational purposes. You can organize a group of related blog posts by using the same tag for all of them. Using irrelevant tags means that unrelated blog posts will be grouped together.

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To ensure relevancy, review your blog posts before tagging them. Pay attention to the keywords in your blog posts. Keywords in titles, subheadings and the body section, are highly relevant, so you can use them as tags.

Don’t Use Too Many Tags

A common mistake bloggers make is using too many tags. WordPress doesn’t limit the number of tags you can use for any given blog post. With that said, using too many tags may backfire. It will clutter the bottom of your blog posts. Tags are organizational keywords, and they are typically displayed at the bottom of blog posts. A blog post with 50 tags will have 50 keywords at the bottom, thus creating a cluttered appearance.

Using too many tags will also result in small and thin groups of blog posts. Tags are connected to groups of blog posts. Each tag will direct to a group or blog post. If you use too many tags, you’ll have excessively small and thin groups of blog posts. Visitors may click a tag, only to discover one or two blog posts in that group.

How many tags should you use exactly? WordPress recommends a maximum combined total of 15 tags and categories. If you use three categories for a blog post, you shouldn’t use more than 12 tags for it. Of course, you can use fewer tags. A half-dozen tags will typically suffice for most blog posts.

Do Use a Consistent Format

When creating tags, use a consistent format. You can format tags in all lowercase letters, for instance, or you can use sentence-case formatting that’s similar to writing a sentence. Alternatively, you can format tags in title case. With title-case formatting, you’ll need to capitalize the first letter of most words in a tag. Only minor words, such as conjunctions, should be all lowercase.

Some bloggers prefer all-lowercase formatting for tags, whereas others prefer sentence-case or title-case formatting for tags. You can use any of these formats when creating tags. Just remember to stick with a single format. Using multiple formats looks messy. For a cleaner and more concise blog, use a consistent format for all tags.

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a sample of a wordpress category, wordpress tag, and recent article appearing at the bottom of a blog post.

Don’t Change Tags

Try to avoid changing tags. After adding tags to a blog post, don’t delete them or replace them with new tags. Changing a blog post’s tags will alter the groups in which it’s placed. Visitors may bookmark the URL of a particular group of blog posts. By changing a blog post’s tags, you’ll remove it from certain groups, which can make it difficult for visitors to find again.

Changing tags is also bad for search engine optimization (SEO). When you change a blog post’s tags, you’ll send conflicting signals to search engines. Deleting a tag, for example, sends the signal that the blog post is no longer relevant to that tag. But assuming you didn’t change the content of the blog post, it should still be relevant to that tag.

Do Check for Visibility

You should check your blog posts to ensure that tags are visible on them. Normally, tags are displayed at the bottom of blog posts. Tag visibility, though, is theme-dependent. There are thousands of different themes for WordPress. While most of them automatically display tags at the bottom of blog posts, some themes do not.

If your blog’s theme doesn’t display tags at the bottom of blog posts, you may want to change it. Downloading a new theme will often solve this problem. Check out the Generatepress theme to build a fast website that uses tags. If you need a website, my brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands can help you. Call 702-917-0755.

Another possible solution is to use a sidebar widget.

WordPress has a tag cloud widget that you can add to your blog’s sidebar. It will automatically display your blog’s tags in the sidebar to which it’s added. Like all widgets, the tag cloud widget is a sitewide component. Visitors will see the tags regardless of which blog post or page they are viewing. You can use the tag cloud widget even if your blog’s theme already displays tags at the bottom of blog posts.

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Tagging isn’t a requirement for creating blog posts in WordPress. WordPress only requires at least one category for each blog post; it doesn’t require any tags. Nonetheless, tags will organize your blog posts into groups. Rather than browsing through all of your blog posts, visitors can click specific tags.

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