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Google’s Take on the Impact of Tags on Rankings

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Google’s John Mueller recently touched upon the topic of using tags on blog posts and its impact on ranking. A webmaster raised the query at the Search Central Live as he wanted to know the benefit of using it for SEO.

What are Tags?

Tags are usually found at the end of the article, which helps users discover similar content to their recently read one. It is a one or two-word link to another content article.

Articles on the website are organized category-wise, so it is easy for the users to navigate and find a topic of interest. Tags offer another way to navigate to similar content. 

Difference between Categories and Tags

Categories are sections of the website where content is organized logically to provide ease of use to the user and is always found on the header navigation menu. However, tags are links to similar content that can be explored by the user, usually at the end or beginning of the article.

Blog Post Usage

Publishers or bloggers have used tags in the past to link to other content; mostly, tags were enriched with keywords assuming that it would increase the article’s ranking for that keyword. They bloated the website’s index as most of the tag archives’ pages contained the list of articles which are already present on the website. Those tag pages did not provide much value to the user. Hence, the usage of tags for linking the content reduced considerably.

Using tags for linking content can sometimes create problems due to the thin content overall affecting website quality. 

Mueller’s Response to the Question

Addressing the webmaster’s question on whether use of tags does have any impact on ranking, Mueller said,

“Not necessarily.

So it’s not necessarily that we would try to recognize tags on a page.

But these are links and potentially they go to… category page, your tag page and that could be another page that we could index or that we could use to pick up links to your articles.”

“So it’s not that there’s any inherent… magic around tags. It’s just… it creates more links and more pages within your site.”

John Muller clearly said there is no straightforward benefit to using tags but referred to other advantages like it could help users discover other web pages related to the topic.

He said he would suggest a link should be given to the relevant article covering a particular topic rather than linking to a tag archive page consisting of a list of articles with the same tag. Moreover, he opined that sending the user to the articles also provides a better user experience than sending them to a page with lots of links.

In our opinion, tags can be useful in linking to content buried deep into the website structure, which otherwise was difficult to reach. The best approach would be to integrate with a well thought SEO plan. 

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