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Quick Blog Post Tagging Tips

google magnifying glassSuccessful blogs draw between 30 – 60 % of their incoming targeted readers from search engine referrals. That’s because targeted readers use search engines to do keyword searches to locate information of topical interest to them.

Aha! Now that I have your attention allow me to quickly share some blog post tagging tips that will increase targeted traffic to your blog posts.

Semantic Tagging


Here’s Google’s Matt Cutts, of Google on tags:

Why Use Categories and Tags?

Categories and Tags are used for on-site convenience of readers. They can quickly locate locate all posts assigned the same Category or Tag by clicking a single Category or Tag link.

Neither Categories nor Tags are required for SEO purposes. Search engines like Google send targeted traffic to your blog based on results of keyword searches of your indexed content.

Avoid key word stuffing when creating content. “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Proper keyword use in blogging or any online writing means the terms are found in the natural flow of language. They are not superimposed or “stuffed” into text.

These days search engines pay more attention to your keywords in your content than they do to your keywords in Tags/Categories. — Revisiting Keywords and Tags Topics pages send targeted traffic to your blog based on the Categories/Tags you assign to your posts, and on search results.

The search engine indexes post, pages, and comments content (body text). Unless entered as text in those contents, blog name, post titles, and post/comment author names are not indexed.

All reasons for non-appearance of posts on Topics pages can be found here Topics – Missing Posts. ( If you assign a combined total that exceeds 15 Categories/Tags to your posts they will not be displayed there.)

Quick Tips for Selecting Categories and Tags

1.   Categories and Tags are one or two (sometimes three)  words keywords (i.e. terms potential readers would be likely to use if they searched your site).

If you wanted to find your blog post then which terms would you search for?  Use those terms as your categories and tags.

2.   Think in terms of  from “broad” to “narrow”. Categories are keywords that define broad topic headings.Tags are keywords are more specific terms indicating what a post is about.

3.   Categories and Tags are treated the same way by search engines so avoid duplication. Do not use the same the same keyword or keyword phrase as both Categories and Tags. Do not use keywords already found in the post title and the text as Categories and Tags.

(a)  Assigning the same keywords or keyword phrases to the same post makes one appear to be a spamdexer AKA tag spammer trying to game search engine results.

(b) Category and tag duplication has a negative effect when it comes to blog organization and you can end up with an awful mess you need to edit in the future. Worse still, editing categories and tags amounts to deletions and deletions mean broken links in search engine search results.

(c)  Remember that readers ought to be able to click one link for a single term (Category or Tag) and find all relevant articles in your blog quickly and easily.  Assigning the same terms as both Categories and Tags results in duplicated search results that will be frustrating for readers who are searching your blog.

4.   Know that “less is more”.  The aim is to use the least combined number of relevant keywords or phrases as possible to accurately describe the contents of any post.

5. Ask yourself:  Which three keywords describe your post’s topic, content and message?

Recommended reading:
Content: How to tag and categorize it
Blogging Tips: Tag to Increase Traffic tagging tips

64 thoughts on “Quick Blog Post Tagging Tips

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  2. Thanks for this topic. Such a great feeling when “the penny finally drops!” I find your commenters helpful and interesting too. Some of these concepts are quite hard to get one’s brain around initially. :)

  3. I get that we shouldn’t duplicate tags and categories.

    “Do not use keywords already found in the post title and the text as Categories and Tags.” So a category/tag should almost be like a summary word of your content (a different summary from your title)?

    • Categories and Tags are for readers on blog use. If the keywords appear in the post title and in the text of the post there does not need to be any category or tag that echoes them for search engines. They aren’t required for SEO purposes.

  4. As a newbie blogger my question is: So are you saying when it comes to tags and categories – less is more? Also, suppose a post can be covered under more then one category, which do you choose?

    Thanks, and I’m glad I found you!

    • Hi there,
      Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. You use the least combined number of the most relevant categories and/or tags that accurately describe the post content.

  5. Thanks for your prompt response to my question on the Community Forum on why my blog was not appearing in the WordPress reader. I inadvertently used too many tags :) I corrected that and am looking forward to seeing my blog back on the reader!

  6. Thanks for the tips.. We just used categories to segregate posts, and tagged so that people can easily find the post in search engines.. How many tags would you suggest for a post??

    • The least combine number of relevant categories and tags that accurately describe post content. Don’t overdo it! It’s unlikely that any post will ever requires more than a total of 10 – 12 categories and tags. If you go overboard and exceed the combined categorizes and tags total of 15 you will be consider to be a “spam-dexer”. See > Global Tags or Topics

  7. I must confess that I don’t bother with tags. I just did not get the value of using tags. After doing research on how they work on worpress I came to the conclusion that they are of some value. However, reading this post has inspired me to update my posts, and organize my tags.

  8. As a new blogger I am working my way through your posts and finding them and your follow up comments very clear and helpful. I have a problem with tags and categories – I am blogging a daily cartoon and your advice for three clear makes complete sense but can they change every day with a different slant on the cartoon?

    • Categories are broad example: Cartoons. Tags are narrow and specific so “yes” is the answer to your question: ” I am blogging a daily cartoon and your advice for three clear makes complete sense but can they change every day with a different slant on the cartoon?”

  9. I just wanted to stop in and thank you for answering a question I had posted on the community board, asking help with why my posts weren’t appearing in the tagged categories. Your explanation makes total sense, and eliminated any further head scratching that was beginning to leave a bald spot. Again — Many Thanks!!

  10. I used way too many tags when I first started blogging. I was only repeating many of the words and phrases that were already in the post content.

    Nowadays when writing a post, I’ll go to the WP Reader and click “Explore Topics.” This allows me to see what WP considers the very broadest subject categories. I almost always see some that fit my post, that I hadn’t thought of.

  11. Dear Timethief. I’ve run in some trouble with image tagging and because you wrote this interesting entry about tagging tips I hope you can help me out.

    What is happening with my images is this: I sometimes add 3 or 4 images to a post. The ones I want google to find I give the right title, alt text, description and tags. The ones that don’t need to be found I don’t tag and give an unrelated title. But what happens every time is the untagged images show up in google image search and the tagged ones I want to be found don’t show up al all or somewhere very low. That seems so strange! I probably do ‘overtag’ the images I want to be found, but that still doesn’t explain why google finds the other ones. Can it be google considers the untagged images as content of my post and the other ones as unrelated? Or can this ‘overtagging’ be the problem? This all is confusing because I do worry the untagged images will disappear at some point because they aren’t tagged, or are they because I tagged the post they belong to?

    Can you help me?

  12. Excellent post…I’ve been wondering about this lately. If I have “reading and writing” as a category, and then I tag it with just “writing,” is that considered a duplicate? I know that caps or lowercase doesn’t matter. I thought maybe the search engine would read “reading and writing” in full and then anyone searching for writing might not find a post (can’t remember if I actually did this though). Also I read somewhere on WP that bloggers should only use up to 15 tags and categories. But I see you linked to another article that says 10 should be the max. I wish I had a better understanding when I first started my blog–or at least found your info sooner and started working on fixing my posts properly!! If I have any time, I’ll go back and remove tags and stuff. :P

  13. Admittedly I’m lazy about much tagging and categorization. Ironic, since I am formally a librarian by training and also career-wise. When I blog, I sometimes feel like Cindy Lauper’s pop song, ” Girls just wanna have fun…!”

    • I know exactly what you mean. In a way I wish I could turn the clock back and redo all my categories and tags. There would fewer, for sure.

  14. Thank you so much for this post. I think I’ve been doing absolutely everything wrong. Your explanation of how to use categories and tags together effectively, not redundantly, is something I wish I had read when I first started my blog.

    • This is a very short and simple post. Note in it I linked to earlier posts on the same topic which I have updated. The reason I published this post is because I spend hours answering support forum questions and I cannot help but notice how many bloggers, both new bloggers and long time bloggers, are totally confused about Categories and Tags.

  15. I’ve always been big on categories and tags, but I haven’t always used them property. On my newer blogs I’ve made sure to keep the categories down to a minimum of 10 because you can really throw things off with too many tags if you’re hoping to attract a certain type of traffic. Tags can have more leeway but I always figured they should try to match the content.

    Good stuff!

    • Hi Mitch,
      I went over board when I first began to blog but even then I didn’t exceed a combined total of 10 categories and tags on any post. Back then I don’t think Google’s algorithms detected whether or not keyword categories and tags we assigned to posts actually appeared in the posts. They do now.

  16. How do you feel about long string keyword phrases. When I look at my analytics this seems to be the most successful source of traffic for me. It is useful for my graphic content on Flickr too. Usually 3-5 words e.g. “risk averse industries” “social media and luxury brands”

    Is this just because I’m a new blogger?

  17. With Categories being hierarchical, I’ve used it like an index, setting up main categories and subcategories (see the dropdown categories widget on my home page). Wish I’d started it on Day One because I still have a lot of odd tags floating around. I’ve converted a lot of them to categories, but it’s a tedious, manual job if you want most of them to be subtopics. Anyway, I find it to be a compelling reason to use categories instead of tags. To anyone just starting out, I’d urge the use of categories only and eschew tags.

      • I agree with Pied. If you aren’t careful when you start, tags and categories will overwhelm…but when you start out, it’s something you don’t think about. And writers often try to give their posts the broadest exposure they can – not realizing the mess it creates

        • Agreed. :( I see so many bloggers spamdexing when they post to the support forum and I visit their blogs that I recognize how wide spread the issue is.

  18. I thought I’d read previously on WordPress tutorials that the topic pages searched tags only (not categories)…But you’re saying both, yes? So if I have something in my Yoga category, I don’t need a tag ‘yoga’?

    • “So if I have something in my Yoga category, I don’t need a tag ‘yoga’?”

      Correct and assigning the same term as both a category and tag has two negative impacts on your blog content accessibility to readers and on it’s positioning in search results.

      1. Creating both a category and tag that are the same term is redundancy that has a negative effect re: search engines like Google and search. To search engines the two are one in the same so assigning the same term twice to the same post makes one appear to be a spammer. The term for doing this is spamdexing or tag spamming. They can and will toss your posts to the back pages of the SERPs (search engine page results) where the sun don’t shine.

      Don’t forget that there are legions of people inappropriately using keywords solely aimed at improving their search position and their traffic to increase their income from blog advertising. Many have monetized blogs and want to in essence “own” a position on the front page of Google search results and/or for a term. Google is onto them and we don’t want to fall into using the spamdexing practices they use to attract search engine attention.

      Remember also that the terms you use as categories and tags ought to be found in the text of the article. Google’s algorithms can discern whether or not the term you assign as a category or tag to any post actually appears in the text of the post.

      See also

      2. Creating both a category and tag that are the same term is redundancy that also has a negative effect when it comes to blog organization and you can end up with an awful mess you need to edit in the future. Editing categories and tags amounts to deletions and deletions mean broken links in search engine search results.

      Remember that readers ought to be able to click one link for a single term (Category or Tag) and find all relevant articles in your blog. If you have two terms that are doing that then there’s an obvious problem for readers who are searching your blog.

  19. Hi timethief This is an interesting post. When i first started blogging my 75 word stories on WP i tagged them as ’75 word stories’ – but then you helped me out by saying that they might be being picked up as spam by WP because i have .75 word storyteller’ in the title of my blog (and 75 word stories as my tag) so I now just tag them ‘Flash Fiction’ and stay right away from ’75’- is this right?
    ps hope you’re feeling better today/tonight.

        • You are definitely on the right track when it comes to Category and Tag use. I did enjoy your posts very much. I’ll never get to New Zealand or Australia for that matter so it’s wonderful to witness the landscape and features you photograph on your travels. Your photos are lovely and they are supported by descriptive text in each post.

          Your sidebar is quite clean despite the fact you have a Tag cloud widget and several awards in it. I think you might want to place your subscription widget above your Facebook widget at the top of your sidebar so it’s more evident to readers who may want to subscribe. I think it’s buried where it is now.

          Many bloggers like declaring how many followers they have in widgets. I do not ascribe to doing that. I find that I’m more inclined to subscribe when there are no numbers displayed. That may be just an eccentricity of mine but if there is an option to hide the numbers I would use it.

          • Thanks for the positive comments. I will look into the changes I could make. I try to write each post as if it was a travel article in a magazine, instead of a personal recount. I’m glad you can enjoy Australia through my posts.

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