This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Syed in Kerala, India, who writes:
“Should we use tags for blog posts? Do blog tags help with SEO? »
Thanks for the awesome question, Syed!
I get this a lot, especially when speaking at influencer conferences and blogging.
The answer, in almost all cases, is no. Do not use blog tags.
It’s probably not necessary if you’ve done the work of creating user-friendly categories and subcategories.
Before digging into why, here’s the one exception to using blog tags — but it’s not for SEO purposes.
If you have active readers who use blog tags to interact with your site, such as shoppers who regularly click on the tags to find more relevant content, and those same users increase your pageviews without bouncing, then the tags add value.
In some cases, you may find that you are actually getting SEO traffic to tag pages. This is where we come into the “special situation” category.
I would make a decision and come up with a plan that probably wouldn’t apply to most other sites.
Because this is not a general answer and you haven’t provided your site, I’ll avoid going into a lot of detail.
Please note that we are talking about blogs and not e-commerce stores.
E-commerce stores can use tags for data feeds, sorting, creating subfolders and directories, etc.
This can be handled differently using meta robots and other tools.
They are a necessary evil right now for e-commerce, but not for blogging.
For blogs that use tags, I highly recommend applying a metarobots noindex, follow tags.
The reason for noindex, track tags is that tags normally lead to stripped down, duplicate, or concurrent copy. You don’t want to waste Google’s crawl even if you have proper canonical links, and you might have relevant internal links to follow.
Because you want your internal links to be followed, you use follow instead of nofollow after noindex.
Blog tags, in most cases:
- Generate unique pages that can compete with major categories and articles because they are short variations on the same topic. There may not be a “read more” type feature for older sites, which makes the UX weird when full posts and blurbs appear in the reading pane.
- Compete with other tags cannibalize keywords if they are too similar.
- Mark pages that contain a lot of articles or only a few. These pages are probably not a good user experience for someone to land on from a Google search. However, articles on a category page can be a better experience.
- Waste your crawl budget. If you have 100 posts and 1,000 tags, search engine crawlers get lost in the huge network of tags, and those same tags can destroy proper site structure.
- Add additional links to the body, sidebar or a main section of your page which “in theory” dilutes the amount of authority each internal link can convey. I don’t care about this one as much, but I added it here because other people I talk to have very strong feelings about it.
- If there is an important tag for your topic, you can probably write a dedicated post and group it into the blog category. Have a posting dedicated to the tag/keyword is a better experience for a website visitor and may make sense for a search engine to show up in a search result.
Years ago, tags were good and bloggers used them.
But now they are more spammy, produce thin pages, cannibalize keywords, and can hurt your crawl budget.
Unless you’re a publisher that makes money from pageviews and tags generate a lot of revenue for you, I wouldn’t recommend using them.
You’re probably better off focusing on your categories and blog posts while using proper site structure, including categories, subcategories, breadcrumbs, sitemaps, internal links, and navigation elements.
Hope this helps answer your question. It’s a big !
Many people regularly ask the same thing.
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