A WordPress tag is a tool that helps you categorize your posts. A post can contain many tags, and clicking on one of them can help you find other posts with the same tag. Unlike categories, tags are optional, so there is no need to add tags to a post if you don’t want to.
Tags vs categories
Tags and categories are types of taxonomies, meaning that they are used to group things together, in this case, posts.
We’ve already mentioned that categories are necessary and that tags are not, however, there is also something else that differentiates them from one another: categories are hierarchical and tags are not. For example, you can have a parent category with many child subcategories. Tags, on the other hand, cannot be related to other tags, they are entirely independent.
Categories are usually treated like topics that apply to many posts, but tags are specific mentions relating to the content of a particular post. For example, if you are doing a review on the latest Brad Pitt film, you would categorize the post as “Reviews” or “Films” but tag it with “Brad Pitt” and the name of the film.
Adding tags in WordPress
There are two easy ways of adding tags in WordPress.
- When writing or editing a blog post, you can add new tags with the Tags box, which is located on the right side of the screen:
- You can also add new tags or edit existing tags by clicking on Posts > Tags.With this method, you can also edit all of the tag’s URL slugs.
Displaying tags on your WordPress website
Usually, WordPress themes display tags automatically as part of the post’s metadata. These tags can be shown at the end or at the beginning of the post. If you wish to display all the tags that you are using on your site, you can use a WordPress widget to create a tag cloud.
Follow these instructions if you wish to add a tag cloud to your WordPress site:
1. Appearance > Widgets.
2. From Available Widgets, drag the Tag Cloud Widget to the location you want.
3. Customize your widget with a title and a visible number count.
Best SEO practices for WordPress tags
There’s no denying that WordPress tags are helpful for usability, but you should also keep in mind some SEO best practices to make sure that your tags don’t have any negative impact on your SEO.
When you use a tag, it creates a separate page with a list of all the posts that are using the said tag. That way, users can easily find similar content. While this may sound ideal, search engines don’t seem to think so. These tags can create a lot of low-quality duplicate content pages because all of your posts are also listed on your main blog archive page. To avoid this, you can use the noindex directive to tell Google not to index your tag archives..
Noindex WordPress Tag Archives with Yoast SEO
You can easily noindex WordPress tag archive pages with the free Yoast SEO plugin. After you’ve installed and activated the plugin, follow these steps:
- Go to SEO > Search Appearance on your WordPress dashboard sidebar.
- Click on the Taxonomies tab.
- Scroll down to Tags section.
- Set “No” for Show Categories in search results?
- Click on Save Changes at the end of the page.
Your tag archive pages will still work as normal for website visitors, but they will not create duplicate content and search engines won’t index them.
More uses for WordPress tags
WordPress tags can also be useful in creative ways if you use some WordPress plugins, like social share button plugins.
These plugins can easily pre-populate a tweet about a post shared by your visitors, with hashtags based on the tags used for that post.
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