Working with Tags

When done correctly, tags are extremely effective in improving your reader’s experience but, when used incorrectly, they’re just a cluttered, bloated navigational tool which has an adverse affect on user engagement.

Think of your readers.

Tags are a method of picking out specific details about your posts and creating a simple way to sort your content by that single piece of information.

Let’s say you have a site about Australian Sports. The sports you discuss would be your categories: Football, Tennis, Swimming, etc. These are the topics you’re going to be talking about on the site, so you give them the higher level form of organisation.

Let’s say your latest post was about the Collingwood Football team and your reader wants to see more posts about this team. They could go to your Football category and look for posts about the team, or you could make it easy for them by having a Collingwood Football team tag that’s linked to every post you’ve written about the team.

If you were a reader, which method would you prefer?

Don’t forget you want ONE tag for that team. Don’t have tags such as ‘Collingwood Football Team’, ‘Collingwood’, ‘CFC’, ‘Collingwood Football Club’ or similar, have one tag so that all these posts are linked together.

Keep the same case – either upper case or lower case. The tag “Collingwood football club’ is NOT the same tag as ‘Collingwood Football club’, nor is it the same as ‘Collingwood Football Club’. If you change the case, that makes a new tag.

When you’re considering what tags you might use, ask yourself, “What does it tell my reader about related posts?” The idea of tags is to direct your readers to related content.

How many tags?

You can add to your list as your site develops. Don’t just add in random words that might fit. The idea of tagging is to provide more routes to your content.

Tags can be overused and underused.

If you use a tag only once in the life of your site then there’s no point having it. It clearly isn’t relevant enough to your site and so it’s not necessary. So delete it.

However, using the same tag on almost all of your posts is also a mistake. These tags are too general and will offer no real benefit to your site’s navigation.

You can easily work out the value of a tag by asking the following question:

When a reader gets to the bottom of the post, would the tag potentially be interesting enough for that reader to click on it?

Now ask yourself this question

When a reader clicks on that tag, will they be taken to a list of posts and all of those posts are about that tag?

Or is it an orphan tag

When a reader clicks on that tag, will they be taken to another post? Or will they be redirected to the same post that they’ve just read?

No reader wants to follow an orphan tag!

Remember. Don’t over tag. There’s no point in getting tag slap-happy because, with tags, more isn’t always better.

Inspect your tags

Yes, organising your tags means work.

  • Go through all of your tags to make sure they’re formatted correctly
  • Remove duplicate tags
  • Go through each post since your last maintenance check to see if they’re all tagged correctly

It’s very easy to tag something incorrectly, forget to add tags to a post or get the formatting of the tag wrong. The chances of this happening increase dramatically if there is more than one writer for your site.