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Is the WordPress Tags Functionality Bad for SEO?

Published by | 3 Comments

When determining how best to optimize a webpage, it is difficult for the page owner to know every single thing that is going on with their blog posts. However, there are things that can be done to avoid problem that arise when tags are used in WordPress posts. The problems do not always occur, and that means the blog owner must be wise to what is considered problematic and what is not.

There are times when tags in WordPress posts are considered to be duplicate content by search engines. Search engines may penalize duplicate content because it seems like spam to the program. This means that blog owners must ensure that their blog is not being recognized as producing duplicate content.

Knowing The HTML

articleimage521Knowing The HTML

The HTML coding behind the scenes on a WordPress page can help to ensure that a blog is not showing duplicate content. The tags that are listed with blog posts can be altered so that they do not look like duplicate content.

Imagine how a blog post is set up. The author may have written a post titled “How to Mow The Lawn”. The tag cloud may include items such as “Lawn Mowing”, “Lawn Maintenance”, “Mow The Lawn”. These tags appear to be duplicates, and they must be designed so as to not be indexed by a search engine. Search engines simply find words and determine what groups they are in. This means that the blog author has to think like a search engine while deciding how to best deal with their tags.

Use An App For That

articleimage521Use An App For That

The blog owner has two choices when dealing with duplicate tags and content. When using an application for SEO purposes, the app can set up tags to be non-indexed. The “noindex” html can be inserted into the “robots.txt” code in the blog itself or an app can set up the “noindex” coding for the author.

Using an app is extremely convenient, but that app will do things in blanket fashion. Everything will be tagged as “noindex” and there are likely certain tags that the author would rather be indexed. No one wants their entire blog to be invisible to search engines, and that can happen when an app is used incorrectly.

Why Noindex?

articleimage521Why Noindex

“Noindex” is used to ensure that the tags and titles or sentences in a blog post are not seen as duplicate content. When “noindex” is used, the tags will not be indexed by the search engine. Therefore, the search engine will only see the the title and content inside the article. “Noindex” works well when the author wants to keep tags from getting in the way of SEO scoring and ranking. While “noindex” is a wonderful option for the fastidious blog owner, does it really make a difference?

Why Does It Matter?

This is where many authors will be left scratching their heads. One post has one URL, and many posts could have the same tags. However, when a blog owner tends to use the same tags in many of their posts, the tag pages for the blog could be filled with tags in the tens or hundreds. It is clear, then, that the blog owner could be seen as a spammer when the search engine finds a tag page that has the word on it hundreds of times.

Using “noindex” prevents the tag pages on a blog from interrupting the search engine. While some content may sound “spammy”, that content can be kept from being considered spam by simply using “noindex” in the duplicate tags. Even blog owners who are writing about the most innocent topics could have tag pages with words like “love” or “art” listed thousands of times. A search engine will find these tag pages and immediately drop the SEO score for the content containing those tags.

Ok, How To Use The Tag Cloud For SEO

Anyone who has read this far probably feels like the tag cloud is too much trouble or could be problematic. However, the tag cloud can be massively effective when used properly. The tag cloud simply must be used in a manner that most people don’t realize it should be. There is more than one way to place tags below a post to enhance the content.

Consider how social media works. Many people will post poems or art that speak to a certain feeling. However, the poem may never have the words “love” or “sad” in it. Using the tag cloud to note the underlying themes in a blog post helps to keep the blog’s tag pages from ending up being filled with the same words over and over again.

Tag pages can also be managed even after the tags have been marked as “noindex”. Going through tag pages and ensuring that none of them are too full will help the blog owner to balance their their blog. A balanced blog has a little bit of everything but is never weighed down by just a few keywords that fill up tag pages.

What If Tag Clouds Are Still Too Much Trouble?

The blog author may have found through reading that a tag cloud simply will not work or it is too much trouble. The tag cloud can simply be removed. The bottom line is simple; Many blog owners would much rather spend time refining their content than fooling around with a blog app or “noindexing” various tags in the hopes that they are not deemed by search engines to be harmful or spam.

Ultimately, the tag cloud’s effectiveness is up to the blog owner. The blog owner can keep their tag pages diverse can likely use tags in their posts to ensure that every possible keyword is listed on their site. This aids the blog in being found through multiple searches. However, a lack of keyword density could result in the blog being scored very low in SEO rankings.

The best balance is to use both strategies. The blog owner should use duplicate keywords when they feel it is appropriate. However, those keywords should be marked “noindex” by the owner when used. In other cases, the blog owner should work to use tags that do not appear in the content of the blog post.

Is The WordPress Tags Functionality Bad For SEO?

The WordPress tags feature can be very harmful to SEO if the tags are not managed properly. The blog owner who simply writes and never considers what they are writing will likely have tag pages so bountiful in mundane terms that their blog will seem like it is all spam.

The wise blog owner will “noindex” duplicate tags, avoid using duplicate tags in other posts, and make sure that the blog stays balanced in this way. A similarly-wise blog owner may realize that they do not have the time, energy, or expertise to “noindex” their tags and simply delete the tag cloud from their blog.

Both courses of action are wise because it would be inappropriate to deem the WordPress tag cloud perfect or flawed. The tag cloud is somewhere in the middle, and it is up to the blog owner to use the information listed above to determine which side they fall on.

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Daniel Threlfall

Daniel has a nerdy fascination with SEO. He's even been known to study Penguin and Panda for "fun." As well as being a family man and world traveler, Daniel prefers his coffee without cream or sugar.

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3 Comments

  1. avatar

    Geek Approved

    Nice Post Daniel,

    I was worrying about this issue, however i think i’ve pretty much covered all bases so they don’t interfere.

    I’ve got the SEO Yoast Plugin installed, which allows you to noindex the tag pages easily and i’ve also blocked them in robots.txt to ensure they dont rank within search engines.

    Do you think you should do the same for authors now? as now Google Authorship has been eradicated! haha

  2. avatar

    Ewan Kennedy

    Useful post, Daniel. I think the answer to the question in your post’s headline has to be “No” because it’s not the tag functionality itself that’s the problem but poor application of the functionality by blog owners.

    @Geek Approved
    I can’t see there’s anything to be gained by blocking the tag pages from search engines using your robots.txt file.

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