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Website tags – advantages and disadvantages of tagging

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Tagging entries is a convenient and simple way to categorize thematically similar content. A well-thought-out tagging structure allows you to enrich your website with a number of keywords and avoid excessive expansion of the category tree. However, tagging is a double-edged knife, so misusing this SEO tool can do more harm than good. Here are some tips on the topic: How to properly tag a website?

Website tags and SEO

Skillful use of tags on a website can bring measurable benefits for SEO, so it is worth to think about their use in your business. However, you should focus on proper implementation.

Beneficial effects of using tags:

strengthening keywords
improving internal linking
ordering of page structure

What should be kept in mind when using tags?

Contrary to popular beliefs and the definition of tags as keywords, they are closer to categories and this is how we should think about them.

The main and most important system of website content categorization is the category tree. In case of a site with a significant amount of content, it is very important to classify it, which makes it easier for people and robots to move around the site. Tags can help segregate articles, but should only be an auxiliary tool.

Words or phrases to be used as tags should be universal enough to be assigned to many articles, but at the same time their meaning should be narrow not to overlap with category names, products or main phrases in the texts. Well-chosen tags will ensure that most of subpages they should lead to will not be repeated.
"Less is more", i.e. the list of tags within a page should be limited by common sense and needs. An extensive list of tags may bring more harm than benefits, as it will be difficult to control it and will lead to the creation of a large number of low value pages. It is best to narrow the tag list down to the most important keywords/phrases related to the topic of your website.
The above rule also applies to the number of tags assigned to one article. It is worth to limit to 2-4 valuable tags, you can even limit to one. It is important that it strictly refers to the content presented in search results. You should also remember that each tag is a new subpage in the service, so it should be valuable in terms of content, only then it will support organic positioning.
As a tag one phrase is used – word variant, synonym, close word as consecutive tags on the site are not indicated. If you use the word "dress" as a tag, remove the word "dress" from your list of tags, because it will not bring any benefits, and even worse, it may lead to cannibalization or duplication of content.
Tag URLs should be short, legible and clear to the user. A friendly address looks nice on a search engine list and may encourage to share your link. Best practice is to mark the tag in address, for example: yourdomain.com/tag/tools-to-positioning
If we have the possibility, means and time, it is worth creating unique descriptions for particular tags. Customized introductions for subpages will enlarge the site with original content and help in the fight against duplicate content, which appears in the so-called article sneak peeks. This will reduce the ratio of unique content in relation to copies that Google does not like.

Tags on the website – adverse effects

Excessive use of tags on a website may adversely affect SEO, thus the golden rule of designers "less is more," i.e. to choose the words that are to become tags wisely.

Adverse effects of using tags:

cannibalization of phrases
creating a large number of sites considered by Google (or other browsers) as being of no value
content duplication

When comes to cannibalization of keywords with tags?

Often tags are assigned to articles by entering a keyword, which is the same as the name of category in which the content was published or is a fragment of the title of entry. Using tags in this form is the most common mistake that leads to weakening of keyword strength.

Example:
There is an article on the blog entitled: Using tags on the blog and positioning tools
Article category: Positioning tools
Assigned tags: use of tags, website tags, positioning tools

In this way as many as 3 sites with a keyword phrase were created: positioning tools – these 3 sites will compete with each other for the highest position in search engine, mechanism of which will try to determine the one that will be displayed on a given user’s query. For this purpose, SERP Google will analyze whether to display the one that was indexed first – then it will most likely select the link leading to the category. It can also focus on the one that will be the most externally or internally linked (it can be any of the 3 options) or it will choose the one that has the most extensive content, i.e. most likely (but you cannot be 100% sure) it will be the article.

In the example shown, it is clear that the phrase chosen for tagging does not always have a positive effect on SEO and will not necessarily have the effect we would expect. The search engine with a choice of 3 websites (or more) will not always select the one to which we wanted to direct organic traffic. Keyword cannibalization usually leads to fluctuations in the position of a given phrase, because in response to a given query, the search engine shows alternately different subsites from the same domain. In our example, the phrase’s strength is divided into three, and in positioning everyone wants to operate at full strength, because fragmenting gives the competitor a green light to throw us off the rewarded site.

Tags and creating poor sites for Google

Tags are supposed to help you search for similar content, thus they should be assigned to several articles within the site – this is the only way to create subsites rich in content. In addition, it is necessary to remember about duplicate content, and this complicates the issue even more.

Inappropriate tags will make us create a large number of content-poor sites, which will duplicate other content available on the site. A large number of tags, which are similar to each other, create duplicate content, what’s worse if these tags lead to single entries, it will lead to indexing a large number of subsites with poor content. This can have a negative impact on search engines evaluation of the site, as the subsites will not contain any potentially interesting content that is worth suggesting to users.

Tags and duplicate content

Duplicate content means duplicating the same information – it can be repeated within one site or copied from other sites. The use of tags may be closely related to this issue, as similar meaningful phrases will gather the same articles. In the example from keyword cannibalization we have very similar tags in terms of meaning: use of tags, website tagsthese phrases are similar in meaning, so assigning them to the content will lead to two identical sets, in which the same titles, images, descriptions will appear. As in the case of cannibalization, Google SERP will probably have a problem with determining which of these subsites to display, and thus will not be able to determine the position of a given phrase.

Tags – index or non-index?

Remember to analyze the results of tags, if you see duplicate content, it is worth adding a noindex attribute for tags. If they do not generate a lot of traffic, they should not be indexed either – we will save time spent on analysis, give a clear signal to the robots to skip them, but we will leave the real users of the service the opportunity to conveniently access articles related to the topic they are interested in.

If you are not sure of your tags, worried that they may have the above mentioned adverse effects or want to use them as a form of navigation for users and for this reason do not take into account the disadvantages of tagging, use a safe tag:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”>

The above tag will inform the robot that it is not supposed to index the page with the tag, but at the same time it is supposed to take into account the flows taking place within the site, i.e. internal linking to the content that it finds in tags.

Here you can contact with us - strategy for applying tags on your website

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