Organizing your products or entries is extremely important if you run an online store or a company blog. Tags and categories are highly helpful in systematizing website content. Unfortunately, improper use of tags can do more harm than good. Have you ever wondered whether tagging serves any other purpose apart from grouping entries and subpages by their subject matters? What if tags can bring many more benefits to the site? Continue reading and find answers to all these questions!
What Are Tags?
Tags can be defined as keywords describing the content of a given subpage. They’re used to organize and group texts and entries on every page. They also facilitate the task of search engine robots which thanks to them can provide users with even more accurate search results. That’s why it’s extremely important to choose appropriate tags that will neatly summarize the content of your blog or features and functionalities of products in your online store. Thoroughly selected keywords make it easier to address content to an appropriate target group. This, in turn, leads to improving the conversion rate of a given website.
Tags vs. Categories – What’s The Difference?
If you want to successfully employ tags and categories, you need to know the difference between them.
Categories indicate what the website is about and their proper structure ideally illustrates the subject matter of the page. Consequently, users can effortlessly find products or entries that are of particular interest to them. Every text or product on your website should be assigned to a relevant category. Moreover, many CMSes (e.g. WordPress) require grouping content into categories and even if you don’t specify the name of a given category, the system will simply assign its content to the “uncategorized” group.
Categories resemble separate chapters while tags can be compared to an index of words on the page. And what are the other disparities between them?
- while organizing categories you need to remember about order and hierarchy – it’s possible to distinguish categories and subcategories. On the other hand, tags are characterized by a flat organization which means that there’s no such a thing as a hierarchical distinction between superior or subordinate tags,
- categories are a must-have of every website, while tags are optional and the decision whether to apply them depends on individual preferences,
- categories are described with the use of short phrases which shouldn’t be too flowery, while tags can incorporate more words,
- tags are more detailed, while categories group website content in a more general way,
- categories are usually presented in the form of a list, while tags are phrases separated by commas.
On the website below you can find a drop-down list of categories. Clicking on a particular category – dog accessories in our case – will redirect users to a group of products that are of interest to them.
However, if someone is looking for specific colors of a given product or accessories designed especially for a particular breed or age of a pet, then it’s very useful to take advantage of detailed tags that redirect to all goods assigned to a selected phrase.
The abovementioned function of tags is perfectly illustrated by the screenshot below.
Pros And Cons Of Using Tags
As you already know, tags can perfectly complement all categories and subpages on your website. Apart from specifying the subject matter of categories and pages, properly formulated and structured tags can be really beneficial for the SEO process! Unfortunately, contrary to what you may think, organizing tags correctly isn’t a piece of cake. Tagging can undoubtedly help every website to rank higher, nevertheless, it can also cause much damage.
Even though tags aren’t an obligatory element of the site, it’s a good idea to deploy them, especially if you wish to expand your website and want to make sure that its navigation is transparent and user-friendly.
Above all, tags can emphasize and highlight keywords you want your website to be displayed on. They also aid internal linking and make the site more ordered and transparent. Tags can also help you to encourage users to check out other entries or products related to a phrase they’re looking at. When it comes to blogs, tagging creates additional archives to which relevant entries are assigned. Finally, tags contribute to increasing organic traffic on the website.
Applying tags requires skillfulness and thoughtfulness. Using too many of them is not only ineffective but it can also have a negative impact on how search engine robots perceive the site. This, in turn, may lead to lowering the website’s position in the search results. “Less is more” turns out to be a real key to success. A careful and sensible selection of phrases will be much more beneficial than stuffing a subpage with tags that don’t reflect its content properly.
The consequences and the biggest disadvantages of improper use of tags include keyword cannibalization, duplicate content, or creation of subpages that are perceived negatively by Google robots. However, we’ll discuss all these issues in more detail later on in this article.
The SEO Value Of Tags
You can usually encounter tags in a form of hashtags on various social media platforms. Unfortunately, combining tags used on social media and in SEO very often has negative effects. It’s worth noting that owners of sales platforms, company blogs, or websites use tags differently than persons running social media accounts.
In order to make tags lucrative and to ensure that the position of your website doesn’t decrease dramatically, it’s essential to apply the following tagging principles.
How To Apply Website Tags?
- Remember that tags complement categories and are an extra way to organize content. Names and words shouldn’t duplicate other categories and subpages.
- Tags need to be versatile so that you can assign various posts to them, however, they also need to be specific and they shouldn’t refer to other elements on the site.
- It’s a good idea to create a short list of tags – in this case more doesn’t mean better. Select a few appropriate phrases that are valuable.
- Tags ought to group as many products/texts as possible – remember that created tags should be assigned to a wide number of goods or entries. Creating separate tags for new content is a mistake!
- It’s enough to assign just a few tags to one subpage – think which phrases reflect the subject matter of the site best and then select suitable tags. Avoid assigning dozens of phrases to a single product or post. Neither does it benefit users as much as it should, nor is it important for indexing.
- Tagging creates new subpages that multiply content on the site. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that content on every page is unique. If you don’t do it, the subpages will contain fragments of articles or product descriptions they refer to. This poses a risk of duplicate content.
- Although posting hashtags on your homepage can enhance the indexing process, too many tags can bring the opposite effect. It may have a negative impact on the position of the website and the content can seem suspicious to the search engine robots.
- URL optimization is a must! When devising tags, you also need to remember to create a short, clear and understandable URL of the subpage a particular phrase refers to. Friendly URLs are important for many reasons and thanks to them subpages and tags look more attractive in the search results.
Tagging Can Be Harmful – What Elements To Beware Of?
It’s already clear that it’s necessary to select tags deliberately and carefully. Applying them improperly can lead to many negative consequences such as the decrease of the website’s position in the search results. So what elements should you beware of?
One of the most frequently encountered mistakes are tags that are identical to the category or are excerpts from the blog content or its title. This makes keywords selected for the SEO process less powerful. Too many phrases from various sources can make it harder for Google robots to decide which words should be assigned to given subpages.
In such a situation, Google will take into account the order of indexing or the amount of content and choose to display subpages which seems to be the most beneficial for users. This may cause organic traffic to the website won’t be generated by your most important subpage. Furthermore, it leads to the so-called keyword cannibalization and duplication of phrases and categories. We’ve already discussed the issue in one of our previous articles – Categories and tags on the blog. How to use them to your advantage?
Fluctuations in the positions of phrases and random assignment of words to subpages have a very negative impact on the SEO process. After all, you aim at taking full advantage of the power of a given phrase, not at dividing it into a few pages. Such mistakes make it easier for your market rivals to outrank your website.
Tags and Low-Quality Subpages
Every website owner and SEO specialist is perfectly aware of how difficult it is to achieve high positions on Google and inspire trust in the website. You need to perform a set of activities that make search engine robots perceive you as a valuable service or information provider and thanks to that your site is ranked higher in the search results.
Too many meaningless tags generate too many low-quality subpages. To make things worse, such low-quality subpages duplicate the content of existing sites. This makes the texts published on the website irrelevant and the search engine robots won’t treat the page content as a valuable answer to users’ search queries.
Incorrectly applied tags are a perfect, yet unwanted, generator of duplicate content. And this results strictly from the example mentioned above. Duplicate content can be an issue on either one or more subpages. Tags that consist of almost the same words or expressions can be associated with one subject matter. Consequently, almost identical groups with the same content and graphics are created. This is a very serious mistake if we’re talking about a website that should aim at creating only unique content.
Should You Index Tags?
If you’re 100% sure that the tags you’ve created meet all the abovementioned criteria, then you can start indexing your tags and subpages. This will have a very beneficial impact on your website indexing.
However, if you aren’t convinced whether everything has been done properly, analyze all the tags all over again to see whether they redirect users to appropriate subpages or positively affect the increase of traffic to the site. In case of being concerned about duplication, assign the “noindex” attribute to your tags. It’s better not to index subpages that generate little traffic. Thanks to it, Google robots will go through such pages without rating them as invaluable and users will still be able to benefit from the content.
Not indexing all subpages with tags will help you avoid exceeding your crawl budget and ensure that only the most valuable pages will be indexed.
To Sum Up
Tags are specific phrases that convey and summarize the content of entry and can redirect users to related posts. They help organize website content in a way that makes everything clear and transparent not only for users but also for the search engine robots.
Properly formulated tags can have a very positive impact on the SEO process. However, it needs to be borne in mind that an incorrect choice of keywords can lead to duplication and cannibalization which negatively affect the position and credibility of the website. Although it’s not obligatory to apply tags, their use can significantly facilitate reaching top search ranking positions. Remember that following guidelines that indicate how to properly structure tags always pays off and brings satisfying results!