Do WordPress tags help SEO or not? They absolutely do, but not how you may think.
WordPress tags do not directly improve your on-page SEO, however, WordPress tags can indirectly improve your SEO efforts in several ways. In this article, I'm going to explore how to properly use WordPress tags, what to avoid doing, and how WordPress tags can actually help improve your SEO strategy.
Categories and tags are essentially the same: they help you organize your content and make it easy for visitors to find what they want. Generally speaking, categories and tags are mainly for internal organization. They help you filter and sort your content, and can help visitors find related content matching their interests.
SEO is a different matter. Some people claim WordPress tags are important for on-page SEO, but how important actually is it? And how exactly do WordPress tags and SEO go hand-in-hand?
What Exactly Are WordPress Tags?
By default, WordPress allows you to organize content using two major taxonomies: tags and categories. The significant difference between the two is that categories are hierarchical while tags are not.
Categories can have multiple subcategories nested under parent categories. In contrast, tags do not have any such structure. However, besides that, both categories and tags have the same purpose: to organize your website content.
WordPress tags create a way to categorize your posts. You can assign as many tags to a post as you like, and they help you to organize your content. Tags can also be used to create links between related posts.
When a reader clicks on a tag, they will be taken to a page that shows all the other posts that have been tagged with that same tag. This is a great way to encourage readers to explore your other content.
Generally speaking, tags are used to describe your posts, while categories are used to group them together. You can think of tags as keywords that help you describe your content, while categories are like the topics that your content is about.
WordPress tags are important for organizing your website and making it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for.
This video by Envato Tuts+ explains it quite well.
Okay, but what about SEO? Do WordPress Tags Help SEO, or what? The answer is two-fold.
Do WordPress Tags Help SEO? Yes and No
To put it quite simply, the short answer is no. WordPress tags themselves don't offer any SEO benefits. In fact, excessive use of WordPress tags can cause a website to be cluttered, reducing usability, and even harming your website's SEO.
It is common to believe that WordPress tags can increase your SEO, but in reality, they have minimal impact on search rankings. In fact, Rank Math doesn't even consider categories or tags a factor for your on-page SEO scores.
The purpose of WordPress tags is to organize content on your site. Tags may help visitors find content on a topic when they click through your tag archives. Tagging a post with a keyword does not improve your chances of ranking on Google for that particular search term.
While not very likely, you may be penalized by Google if they believe you're adding keywords to your title and description tags to game the algorithm. Chances are, however, that keyword stuffing simply decreases your chances to rank higher.
On the other hand, If your website is properly tagged, users can find the information they need more easily, resulting in a better overall user experience. Because tags can help decrease bounce rate, increase the number of pages viewed, and increase the average time on site, tags can indirectly improve your on-page SEO resulting in better rankings.
3 Ways WordPress Tags Can Help SEO
Simply adding WordPress tags to your posts won't directly improve your page rankings, however, they can indirectly improve some key factors that Google's algorithm uses to rank web pages.
Bouncing occurs when a user lands on your website and decides to leave before going elsewhere. There is a small chance that users click on a meta tag within your post, therefore, decreasing the overall bounce rate.
Average Time on Site
The average time on site refers to the average time a user spends on your website, which is increased if, for instance, a user decides to navigate through your post tags.
Overall Page Views
Additionally, if a user is navigating through your website by your posts' meta tags, you can bet that your overall page views will increase as well (not to mention your Adsense revenue).
WordPress Tags Can Hinder Your SEO Efforts
Using WordPress tags is fine. Tags can help you organize your content and help readers find the information they need. However, misusing tags can lead to a poor user experience and eventually hurt your SEO.
WordPress creates an archive page every time you add a tag. If you use the practice of tagging posts with every variation of your target keyword, it will develop many archive pages. Most of them will contain only that particular post. That isn't good! It makes your content appear thin.
It also creates poor user experiences for readers who visit those tag archives to search for related content. Additionally, it adds junk content that Google will likely consider low-quality.
Duplicate content problems can also occur significantly if your categories overlap with your tags. I highly recommend keeping them to a minimum.
How to Avoid WordPress Tag-Related SEO Problems
These are the steps I take to make my WordPress tags SEO-friendly. Remember, the goal is to use tags correctly so as to not negatively impact your SEO efforts.
Differentiate Between Categories And Tags
It is usually harmful to create a category and tag for the same term. You can use tags and categories on your site; however, here is a general approach: Use categories for broad categorization (e.g., “Cars”) and tags for more specific/granular subjects (e.g., “Black” or “Toyota”).
This system will ensure that your taxonomies are well-organized and valuable to your readers. Avoid duplicating your WordPress categories and tags.
Noindex Your Tag Archives
It's unlikely that you will need to have your tag archive indexed by search engines unless you have good reasons. If you don't have the Rank Math plugin, I do recommend it. Rank Math makes no-indexing your tag archives incredibly easy.
Using Rank Math, navigate to Rank Math > Titles & Meta > Tags from your WordPress dashboard.
Under Tag Archives Robots Meta, check No Index.
Only Use Tags You Absolutely Need
Although every WordPress post must be associated at least with one category, there is no obligation to use tags. In fact, you should use tags if you believe they will help users navigate your site.
If they are just adding clutter to your website, you can skip them. Seriously, don't use tags just because you think you need them. Not having tags is okay!
How to Target Keywords in the Right Way
People use WordPress tags to show Google that they are relevant to a keyword, but Google is smart enough to recognize keywords without your help. Don't use your keywords as meta tags unless it makes sense.
It's better to concentrate on creating quality content and include keywords naturally. Your post title, subheadings, and meta description should contain your target keyword. No tags are necessary.
If you need help targeting keywords to outcompete your competitors, read my guide on How to Create the Perfect Post.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to WordPress tags and SEO, tags are almost of negligible importance. Your main goal is to use them for organizing your content in a responsible manner that doesn't negatively impact your SEO efforts.
As far as using them to improve your rankings, tags pale in comparison to other SEO methods (like adding Keywords to your headers). With that said, there is a small chance WordPress tags can indirectly improve your SEO efforts, so I wouldn't write them off. And at the very least, your users will thank you for the extra organization.
While it is acceptable to use them, it is essential to remember that WordPress tags are more than just a list of search keywords. They are there to help you organize your website's content, not boost your search ranking.
If you have any more questions about WordPress tags and SEO, feel free to ask in the comments below! I love to hear what my readers have to say.