September 12, 2016

Blog Education, Education

The Purpose of Blog Tags: The Do’s + Don’ts

blog tags, blogging tips, blog categories and tags, blog tag advice, should i use blog tags, what is the difference between blog tags and categories
Created by Ali Coşkunfrom the Noun Project

 

As you guys know, we’ve been hard at work over the last few weeks and months on our website and blog – upgrading to a Showit5 site (which we LOVE!) and making the blog more user friendly, easier to search through and cleaning it up a bit.

One of the major tasks we had in front of us (or rather, I had in front of me since Randy isn’t a blogger unless forced to, with the promise of peanut butter ice cream at the end of it – because #briberyworksonadultstoo!!) – was to fix our blog tags. For the first 4-5 years of business, I had no idea what a blog tag was or how it worked or the purpose it served. I honestly thought it was a way to boost SEO for keywords you want to be searched for, and that it didn’t have anything to do with what the blog was about, so on wedding blogs from Colorado tagged “Palm Springs wedding photographer” and “Southern California photographer” and all kinds of whackadoodle stuff.

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There were tags all over the place, serving absolutely no purpose. I was using blog tags as keywords – which is not what they’re used for!! And doing this can actually HURT your SEO. Not good!! I’m still cleaning up the mess I made all over the blog, having to go back through 6 years worth of blogs (read: nearly a thousand) to correctly tag them.

I’m taking a little break from that overwhelming and god-why-did-I-ever-not-research-tags-before-I-started-blogging project to share with you what we’ve learned about blog tags, categories and how they can help (and hurt) your SEO!

The Purpose of Blog Tags: The Do’s + Don’ts

When I started looking more into the purpose of blog tags, this popped up:

A category title should be descriptive and can be several words long. A tag is more specific and addresses items you discuss in a particular blog post. A tag is usually only a word or two and reflects the keywords or points of your article. If categories are your blog’s table of contents, tags are your blog’s index. (Blogging Basics)

To  me, this was super helpful because as a book nerd: I totally understood that analogy.

What is a blog category?

A CATEGORY is the overall “chapter” so-to-speak of your blog – so for us, for example, our blog categories are Weddings, Engagements, Lifestyle, Boudoir, Business, Personal, News, Travels and Advice for Couples.

Categories are broad subjects – so when someone looks for something in one of those particular categories, everything within those categories shows up; i.e., all the weddings in one spot, all the engagements in one spot, etc.

A SUBCATEGORY are things you blog enough about often that they need to have their own subcategory under a parent category. So for us, for example, we have subcategories about Marketing, Social Media and Workflow under our Business category. Make sense?

So what is a blog tag?

A blog tag is something that can be found within your blog, as a way of indexing what is in it. So for example, you don’t use the tag area to say “World’s Best Traveling Wedding Photographer” or “Hawaii’s best wedding photographer” – but if you shot a destination wedding in Hawaii by a volcano at a pineapple farm – you would use tags like:

  • Hawaii
  • Destination Wedding
  • Volcano
  • Pineapple Farm
  • Maui

Then you could take it a step further, and use blog tags to index the vendors you worked with: the venue, coordinator, gown designer, suit company, florist, etc. This way whenever someone is on your blog site and they wonder “hmm, wonder if they ever worked with so-and-so” – they can type name in and see what pops up.

Then, if you really wanted to have some good blog indexing, you could even tag even more specific stuff like the type of flowers used (“hibiscus”), the material of the wedding dress (“lace gown”), the colors used (“pink”, “white”, “gold”), and even things things like “outdoor ceremony”, “tropical”, “first look”, “live band”, and “leis”.

Blog Tag Do’s an Don’ts

DO

  • Keep them short (3 words or less).
  • Organize your tags.
  • Only tag relevant things to that specific blog. Don’t do what we did – tagging things irrelevant to the post. For the Hawaiian wedding, don’t tag “Seattle Wedding Photographer”, ok? It serves no purpose to do that.
  • Make sure you’ve spelled it correctly. When you’re typing a tag in WordPress, if you’ve used the tag before it’ll pop up. Click on that to avoid duplication or misspelling.

DON’T

  • Duplicate tags (i.e. one thing we did was for a makeup artist we work with a lot – we had the following tags: “Janine Novarro”, “Janine Novarro Hair and Makeup Artist”, “Hair and Makeup Janine”, “Janine”, “MUAH by J”, “MUAH by J – Janine Novarro” – the list went on and on. Now we just have “Janine Novarro” and “Makeup by J” – her personal name and her business name. That’s it.
  • Go overboard. You don’t need to tag every single little detail, but definitely the important ones. If you have over 50 tags, you’re overdoing it.
  • Don’t make tags you’ll only use once.

When you tag your blogs effectively, it can have a very positive effect on your SEO and can encourage better engagement. What does that mean? It means they spend more time on your site, making Google think your site is more interesting, therefore giving you higher ranking. And we’re all about FREE ways to boost SEO, right?!

If you loved this post, let us know! Have a question about blogging – ask in the comments!

© ashley durham photography