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Do WordPress Tags Help SEO?

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

WordPress is currently the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), a fancy say of saying it’s a platform for building websites.

If you have a blog on your WordPress site, you can label the posts with different categories and tags.

These are ways to sort the articles into taxonomies, so people can find more articles on the same topic quickly and efficiently.

However, one way that I’ve seem many people using tags in WordPress is for a mythical SEO boost.

The logic being, if they tag an article with a whole bunch of words and phrases, then the article will have a better chance of ranking in search results.

I’m here to completely dispel that myth. WordPress tags have no effect on SEO, or the ranking of a given article.

WordPress Tags Giving a SEO Boost is a Myth

I’m not sure when this practice started, or how this rumor came about originally. Personally, I’ve been seeing people using this technique for many years. However, it doesn’t do anything to the ranking of your blog post. All it does is create clutter and make it more difficult for your reader to actually use WordPress tags the way they were intended.

To make a page rank, you have to mention the keyword phrases you are trying to rank for in the main content of the article. I would also recommend using the main keyword in the title tag of the post, and in some of the sub-headlines. Google will also look for other words that are associated with the main keyword phrase that you are trying to rank for.

For all you Yoast SEO users, here’s a tip: I index my category pages and noindex my tag pages. This is to prevent duplicate content, and forcing Google to choose between a category and a tag page for which one is most relevant.

Summary

To sum up, WordPress tags do not influence SEO. If you want to rank for a given search phrase, use that in the title, meta description, body of the article, the H1 (main headline), and sub-headlines (H2, H3, H4, H5, H6).

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

15 comments on “Do WordPress Tags Help SEO?

  1. Does this same approach apply to event calendar listings that are created in WordPress plugins like The Event Calendar by Modern Tribe? Use the search phrase in the page title meta description, body, H1 headline, etc.?

    1. Hi Joanne:

      Yes, you’ll want to use the keyword phrase in the title tag, H1, and body text (if possible). If you’re focusing on an event in a specific city, be sure to put that city in the URL and mention in the main content of the event page.

      Thanks,
      John

  2. Thanks for this very helpful article, I’m a beginner and I could not find any advice to help clarify the title tag versus category title versus tags confusion (except for Yoast whose most consistent advice is, “Upgrade to our premium package!”).

    I notice you said that you do not index your tag posts. When is it useful to use tags, especially if you are not having them indexed?

    Are category titles helpful? If it is a small site with only 20 or 30 posts should I use a different category title for each post? If so, would it be helpful to have the category title match either the tag title or the post’s “slug”?

    1. Hi Kathleen:

      Thanks for your thoughtful question. Love the commentary on the constant Yoast upselling. I feel you on that one.

      I noindex Tag pages because there would be some overlap with the Category pages. They are there mostly for people to click on if they want to see more about a more granular topic. For example, I have five posts tagged “Advertising”, but I don’t want to have a whole category about that.

      One reason I keep tags is I can tag a post with more than one label. With Categories, I keep each post to one category, because I’m using those in breadcrumbs.

      Not counting “Uncategorized”, I have only eight Categories. Most of the posts are under “SEO”, “WordPress”, or “Web Design”.

      To contrast, I currently have 65 Tags.

      You mention that your site has about 20 to 30 posts, so you could probably get by with 3 to 6 Categories. I don’t think you need more than that.

      Both Categories and Tags are just made up taxonomies (ways of organizing information), but these are two taxonomies that most people understand.

      I put thought into what to tag each post, and what category each should be filed under. To me, tags are merely a way for people to discover more about a sub-topic, since there is no inherent SEO value in them.

      P.S. None of my Category pages rank very high for their respective labels. Singular posts do much better. I DO think that Google looks at how many posts are on a certain topic, or in a certain category to put the entire website into a “box” or area of classification. So, categories have a teeny amount of weight. But I don’t think they look at tags. Instead Google looks at the actual words in the Main Content (blog post) and the words in the Secondary Content (comments).

  3. Hi John, thanks for the clarification! I’m a beginner and I’m yet to figure out everything. I use Yoast (free version) and couldn’t find from where I can do “noindex my tag pages”.

    For all you Yoast SEO users, here’s a tip: I index my category pages and noindex my tag pages. This is to prevent duplicate content, and forcing Google to choose between a category and a tag page for which one is most relevant.

    Can you please explain a bit more on how can I do this?

    1. Hi Tousif:

      You can edit the indexibility for tags by editing the tag page. Make sure that Yoast SEO is checked to display under Screen Options in the top right corner of the screen. Scroll down to the Yoast widget when editing the tag page and click the gear icon (Premium) or Advanced (in free version). You should see this:

      Noindex tags in Yoast

      Noindex tags in Yoast SEO Premium.

      noindex tags in Yoast SEO free version

      Noindex tags in Yoast SEO free version.

      Thanks,
      John

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