In the context of WordPress, think of tags as keywords you attach to each post to help your readers find related content.
Typically, they show as links at the top or bottom (or both) of each article.
However, depending on the theme you’re using, they may not be visible at all. If this is the case, and you don’t want to change it, you should still consider adding tags to each post, especially if you use a related posts plugin. The reason? The plugin may use those tags to determine which posts to show at the end of an article.
Let’s look at it another way…
For the sake of a few seconds of your time and some not-so-deep thinking, adding relevant tags could greatly improve your website and the user experience. Not just today, but for months and years to come.
As your blog grows it’s very easy for a sparkling article to get lost. That post you wrote three months ago goes deep in the archives if you’re publishing a few times a week.
For this reason, it’s important you provide ways for regular readers and first-time visitors to find relevant content and keep them on your site for as long as possible. It’s also important for you to guide people to the content you want them to find: sales pages, detailed tutorials displaying your expertise and, of course, the all-important revenue generating articles (if you’re running an affiliate site).
Tagging your posts, and making the tags visible if they aren’t already, could lead to more clicks and pageviews.
What makes a good tag?
More often than not, you’ll want at least two words in each tag to give it some deeper meaning.
A tag such as ‘website development’ or ‘project development’ has much more meaning than ‘development’. The same goes for ‘portrait photography’ and ‘nature photography’.
Using one-word tags is perfectly acceptable, and required in certain cases (think of brands such as Facebook, Apple and Nike) but giving your tags more meaning will help with your reader’s expectations and perhaps encourage more clicks.
Where, on a post, do you find tags?
Many WordPress themes include POSTMETADATA at the bottom and/or top of each post. This data typically includes the publication date, the author’s name, the post category and a list of tags.
However, some themes don’t display tags. This is purely down to the choice of the theme’s creator. If they decide to leave the tags in the background, you may be able to add some code to your site to make them appear. If you’re using a premium theme, you might be able to switch them on or off. Try googling your theme’s name and show tags or something similar.
How many tags should you use for each post?
WordPress lets you use as many as you like. From a personal perspective, I prefer to use a maximum of five. Especially if the tags are visible.
Some blogs use 20+ tags for each post, some use a handful. The choice is purely personal – I suggest you use as many as you feel comfortable using.
If you have never heard of a tag cloud, you may have seen one on your favourite blog. It’s a sidebar or footer widget which shows the most commonly used tags on your site.
I’m not using it on here, but it would look something like this if it was active.
Related posts plugins
A related posts plugin typically adds a group of 10 links to the end of each post. The additional links provide readers with direct links to articles on your blog covering similar topics to the one they’re reading. By providing these links, you’re encouraging the reader to stay on your site and engage more with your content.
Many of these plugins use the categories and tags you’ve assigned to output the links.
Over the years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with tagging. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, but I do see the value in adding a few tags to each post.
If you’re not sure what to do about them, I suggest you add at least three to each post.
The reason I suggest this is because going back over tens or even hundreds of posts further down the line is so much more work than tagging as you go. I’ve been there, so I know how much of a pain it is.
With all of that said, the choice, as always, is yours.
I’d love to know what you think about tagging. Does it work for you? Perhaps you’ve never tagged a single post? Let me know in the comments below.