Yesterday, I gave a very thorough definition of what blog tags are. Today, I’m going to tell you how to create blog tags for SEO as well as for human interaction purposes.
The practice of blog SEO can sometimes create a dilemma. Everyone wants their blog to be optimized for search engines but no one wants to make readability sacrifices. Blog posts written to target keywords can sometimes be less legible than blog posts written in ignorance of search engines. With tags however, the more efficient they are for people, the more efficient they are for search engine optimization. In other words, you get the best of both worlds! If you use tags properly of course.
World #1: Blog post tagging for human interaction
The biggest mistake bloggers make when creating tags is to use each tag only once. After a post is written, a blogger will tag the post with maybe 3 or 4 relevant tags. The tags are usually created without much thought. This creates a problem in the future because it can be very difficult to recall those tags for future relevant posts. Why? Because the brain is spontaneous and creative. There can sometimes be many names for any given tag. A tag like “making soup” could also be created as “how to make soup,” “make soup,” and “soup recipes.” The blog software that you use (i.e. WordPress) has no way of knowing that “making soup” and “soup making” are the same thing so they are treated as separate tags.
The developers of WordPress had all of this in mind when they created their tag system. WordPress has a tag suggestion tool built-in to the post editor. The nifty feature exists on the right hand side of the post editor page in the “Post Tags” box.
By clicking “Choose from the most used tags in Post Tags,” you can view all of your previously created tags. Choosing from the list of previously created tags is always a good idea. After the first 20 or so blog posts, most of the new posts should be tagged with previously created tags. The idea is to never have two tags alike and to group as many similar posts together as possible.
Tags should also overlap each other. A post about making clam chowder soup should be in the previously created “making soup” tag but should also be in the previously created “clams” tag. The “making soup” tag and the “clams” tag are then overlapping.
People generally click on tags because they are relevant to the blog post they just read. By practicing the above, each of your tags will ideally contain multiple relevant posts. There is nothing worse than for a reader to click on a tag and be taken to a list of only one or two relevant posts. God forbid a reader click on a tag containing only the post that was just read! That is why it is important to re-use tags for human interaction purposes.
World#2: Blog post tagging for SEO
Should you properly tag posts for human interaction (using the above methods), your tags should naturally give your blog an SEO boost. Search engines like Google reward sites that have plentiful internal links, specifically links that connect relevant content. However, there are a few tagging practices that will optimize your site for search engines.
- Plan your tags. Every time you create a new tag, you should consider carefully what keywords it contains. Are the keywords contained in the tag valuable/desirable? Tags will ideally be used over and over. Although WordPress has a tool for renaming tags, it is always best to get it right the first time.
- Think specific. Tags are for grouping posts together based on specific criteria. Categories are for grouping posts together based on general criteria. By placing a post in a category, you’ve already given search engines a general idea of what your post is about; use tags to label your post more specifically. This will greatly increase your chances of receiving short-tail and long-tail keyword traffic from search engines.
- List tags at the end of each post and place a tag cloud in your sidebar. Tags are no use if they aren’t visible! Tags will multiply the number of internal links on your blog only if search engines can crawl them. It is also a good idea to link to specific tags in your posts. In-post tag links should contain the same keywords in the tag linked to.
Tags are a powerful weapon for blog search engine optimization as well as for site usability. A well-practiced tagger will have around 3 tags per post and each tag containing 3 or more other posts. Empty tags are inevitable. Sometimes posts are so unique, they really can’t be grouped together with anything.