Improve Search Engine Placement with Tags

RubikOften overlooked, and sometimes misunderstood, tags can be significant source of search engine traffic if used properly.

In my experience, search hits landing on tag pages can attribute to as much as one third of all search engine visitors for a site.

Why are Tags so good ?

Quite simply, tags automatically generate new content for you, which can be indexed and ranked, thus also receive search engine traffic.

If you assign the tag 'fresh yogurt drinks' to the post, WordPress will automatically create a new page where all posts with the tag 'fresh yogurt drinks' will be listed. Assign a couple of tags to the post and you have automatically generated couple of new pages to your blog that are indexable and can attract search engine visitors.

The power of tags really comes to play when you reuse same tag over and over again. Because posts usually list tags at the end, these reused tags will have more incoming links to them, and thus pick up more of Page Rank juice. With greater Page Rank, they are also more likely to be shown in the search engine results.

Vlad's Tag Tips

  1. Pick your tags. The only point in ranking tags in search engines is if your tag is actually a phrase that will be searched for and thus generate visitors.
  2. Have excerpts on your archive pages instead of full content. You want tag pages to give only a hint of the content, and you also want to prevent duplicate content issue. (hint: Open archive.php of your theme and replace the_content with the_excerpt).
  3. Use 'tag sculpting'. This is similar to normal seo sculpting technique, and is especially efficient for new sites. Instead of listing tags after every post, create a dedicated tag page and display the best tags there. Since the tag page will be linked from all pages of your site, it will accumulate massive amount of page rank and proceed to spread it evenly among your most important tags. When the overall page rank of the site grows, you can enable the tags in post again. (hint: To create a dedicated tags page, name it 'Tags' and add this code to your page.php, after the_content line: <?php if (is_page('Tags') && function_exists('wp_tag_cloud')) wp_tag_cloud('number=45'); ?> )
  4. Track your tag performance. Success does not exist without acknowledgment so you need to have a way to monitor actual impact of tag optimization. Luckily you can set this up using Google Analytics advanced segments and here is how.

On the Google Analytics sidebar look for advanced segments, and then click on "Create new custom segment in the top-right corner.

manage-advanced-segments-google-analytics_1232727323663

Find 'Landing page' under 'Dimensions/Content', and drag and drop it to the right. Set condition to 'Contains' and value to '/tag/' (this is WordPress default for tags).

edit-advanced-segment-google-analytics_1232727438270

Go back to Dashboard, select your new segment from the advanced segments select box (found above the main analytics graph) and you are set.

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Here is the illustration of tag optimization from an actual site.

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Incoming traffic to tag pages was increased ten times (from 50 to 500 visitors/day), which in turn increased overall site traffic by around 20%. And these numbers scale as well. Tag pages also tend to have low bounce rates and high pages/visit numbers.

Conclusion

Tags can be very powerful way to improve search engine rankings and traffic to your site.

But as with all SEO efforts, this is no magical way to increase traffic. Careful planning and conideration should be made in planning your tag strategy. Mind your tags!


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60 Comments

  1. Jan 30th, 2012 5:30 PM

    Vladimir, thank you for your excellent presentation.

  2. Jan 8th, 2012 4:17 PM

    This articles is very helpful which I was looking for

  3. Voucheap
    Dec 3rd, 2011 7:07 AM

    Hi

    I'm building a voucher website and I have some questions regarding tags & seo. Can you please help?

    Let's say I have 5 voucher codes for 5 different websites that sell holidays, hotels, flights & car hire and the vouchers can buy any of the products. On each voucher, I want to make sure each product has tags relevant to it.

    Now, each product/keyword will have 5 different keywords extensions as tags. For example hotels tags will be: hotel voucher, hotel voucher code, hotel discount voucher, hotel discount voucher code, hotel discounts. So, altogether there will be 20 tags on each voucher.

    Question 1: Since each of the 20 tags has its own URL, but they all have the same content(same voucher excerpts/preview). Would that be considered as duplicate content?

    Question 2: Since each voucher will have 20 tags (more on some categories), would that be considered as tag spamming.

    I'm hoping each tag will be indexed and it will make it easy for people to find vouchers on my site when they search those keywords.

  4. Jul 16th, 2011 10:49 PM

    Hi, I visit your blog and I found some helpful information for me. It’s really great for any blogging.

  5. Feb 14th, 2011 8:21 AM

    In my point view title tags are exceptionally important as it is the title which carry your link in search results…because it is the first thing people see about your site

  6. Dec 7th, 2010 11:16 AM

    Two-three words long phrases, doing some keyword research would be helpful (search for it on my blog)

  7. Dec 7th, 2010 9:13 AM

    On a related note, what is a good strategy for choosing words to use as tags - from an SEO point of view?

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