WordPress.com tagging tips: Don’t be a spam-dexer

Updated : March 2013

The limit re: number of tag displayed on the global tag pages

There is no limit to the number of tags and/or categories that you can assign to a post on your wordpress.com blog. However, the combined number of tags and categories that you can assign to a post – and have it appear on the global tags pages – is 15.

My wordpress blogging tip is: be selective and assign less than a total of 10 relevant tags and categories to your posts.

Why is there a limit?
The limit was put in place in response to the antics of overly competitive and unethical bloggers, who were into ‘gaming the system’ as a means of promoting their blogs by using an excessive number of unrelated  tags. Their motivation was transparent — greed for glory, achieved through deception.

They began assigning as many as 80 and sometimes more, sensationalized and often irrelevant tags to every post they published. And some were even using the very same tags on each and every post that they published.

Some prime examples of evidence of this ‘gaming of the system’ were the news, political and sports re-bloggers, who were assigning Britney Spears crotch shots tags and/or other irrelevant sex-xy tags to their political and sports posts.

Over time, the increase in the numbers of tag spammers using totally irrelevant tag assignments to inflate their hit rates led ethical bloggers to complain to staff about the situation.

Staff, quite rightly, acted and put the limit in place as an effort to restore a level playing field for all. See Mark’s (staff) two responses in this thread.

The limit re: number of tags displayed by the tag cloud widget

It’s a widget folks and sidebar(s) on blogs are small (200 pixels or less wide). The maximum number of tag displayed by the tag cloud is 45 tags and that has been in place for quite some time now. (See what the original poster in this thread reports that staff told him.)

Key references for tagging:
The differences between categories and tags
Tags! and categories
Category to tag converter

15 thoughts on “WordPress.com tagging tips: Don’t be a spam-dexer

  1. Hmmm, it is kinda embarrassing to read your article, because I might be guilty of using tags like “All”, “Blog” or other silly tags in the past.. :( Thanks, this is nice to know!

  2. Can I salvage an entry with too many tags by going back and trimming to less than 10? Or is that entry (and the entire blog) alreadt tainted? I didn’t know any better, and was actually trying to include lots of tags. In my defense, every single tag was relevant to a particular entry, so I wasn’t trying to game the system with non sequitur Britney tags…

    So is it worth the effort of going back to cut excess tags?

    1. Hi Joe,
      Yes you can do that but what does “salvage” mean to you? The prime time to promote a post is immediately after publication. Granted you will want it appearing in search resluts so it draws traffic from search engines thereafter so yes you can trim tags but please read on.

      This is an internal issue re: wordpress.COM global tag pages only. Yes you can delete tags and categories and narrow them down. Doing so will place the post in a display position in accord with the original date/timestamp on the post. It will be there in search results. Changing the date/time stamp will be detected and defeated by the software. (Yes, we had folks who did that everyday so Staff had to act to prevent them from editing and succeeding in placing their posts at the top of the tags every ding dong day.)

      The number of categories and/or tags you assigned to the post does not affect search engines in the same way. Every time you delete a tag or category you create a broken URL (link) AKA 404 (page not found) in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AltaVista, etc. search results. Therefore you have to determine whether or not this particular post is worth doing this for.

      Lastly, there is an inclination in many bloggers to tag the crap out of every post they publish. Their thinking is the more the better when the less is more principle is what they ought to embrace. The best approach is to use as few and as narrowly defined categories/tags as possible on any given post.

      Best wishes with your blogging. :)

  3. Does this mean a max of 10 tags and 10 categories per post, or 10 total between the categories and tags? For instance, the max to appear on the global tags pages, for a post you would be limited to a max of 7 tags and 3 categories, or 5 tags and 5 categories, etc?

    1. The total combined number of tags and/or categories that you can assign to a post – and have it appear on the global tags pages – is 10 (ten), and it doesn’t matter how they are attributed, as tags and categories are treated the same way.

        1. You’re welcome. Matt Cutts of Google has made it clear that the aim of search engines is to provide the most relevant results possible in response to search queries. He refers to those who use an excessive number of tags and categories and particularly those that are not relevant to the contents in any post as “spamdexers”. Spamdexers are polluting and diluting search results with irrelevant entries, and Matt’s section of Goggle is focused on eliminating spamdex entries from search results. Consequently, those who are spamdexing are experiencing Google penalties. Those who establish such patterns are setting themselves up to have their entries and in some cases their entire blogs blacklisted.

  4. @grego
    No I don’t believe you will have any problems and if you do then it’s support[at]wordpress[dot]com you have to email. This has nothing to do with Google. Best wishes.

  5. No wonder! I had more tags, but they’re unique (it was a 10-page post/ article). Nothing showed up in search or tags, so figured something was up, thought this might have something to do with it–yup!
    So now the important question: after bringing the number of tags down, am I now on a “spammer” blacklist and standing in the corner here or at Google? Thanks.

  6. Ahhh … well you were lucky that weren’t there on the forum when we lobbied staff to put a limit in place. I’m sure you can envision it in your mind’s eye. There are still those who use giant blocks of tags — the same tags on every post. :roll:

  7. Hmmm, haven’t counted, but I think I’m safe. Can’t think of a post where I’d want more. Spam-dexer is a new term for me, and it works.

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