It’s easy to overlook the humble post tag when you’re setting up your blog.

But tags are worth a second look and then some. These little labels can deliver a lot of value when you know what they do and how to use them wisely.

Tags on your blog posts can make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for.

They can help search engine crawlers understand the content that’s on your site.

And tags can help you organize, update, and repackage your archived posts. With the right tracking tools, your tags can even show you which direction your new content should take.

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What a Blog Post Tag Is—and Isn’t

Tags are similar to a lot of other site elements, and it can get confusing. Let’s start by clearing up what a tag is and is not.

First, blog post tags are not hashtags. They have similar functions, but hashtags work across an entire platform, which is why you get results from about a million different accounts when you search for #puppies on Instagram. Post tags work within your site, so clicking the puppies tag will return only your posts about wee puppers.

Post tags also aren’t the code snippets used to track marketing campaigns with Google Tag Manager. Two totally different things.

Post Tags Complement Categories

Tags are optional, but WordPress automatically sorts blog posts into categories. If you don’t set up your own categories and use them, your content will be “uncategorized.”

That’s not helpful for your readers, you, search crawlers, or people using search engines to find the topics you write about. So please, use your categories.

Some bloggers don’t tag their posts because they feel like categories take care of all their sorting needs. That can work if you have a small blog that you don’t update that often, but the more content you have, and the more varied your topics are, the more useful tags will be.

Here’s why: Categories sort your posts into a top-level groups that provide a general outline of your content. For example, baking blog categories might be cakes, pies, cookies, and brownies.

But you can tag posts in any of those categories with specific labels like Christmas, gluten-free, and so on, so readers can find all your Christmas or gluten free recipes in one tag search.

Category and tag management menus in WordPress

Post Tags and Meta Descriptions Have Different Jobs

Meta keywords show up in a search results snippet for your post, and they get scanned by search engine robots. They can share some of the same words you use in your post tags, but tagging your posts doesn’t automatically generate meta descriptions. You need to enter them in the meta description box for your post.

Yoast meta description box for WordPress

4 Ways Post Tags Make Your Blog Better

1. Tags can help your SEO.

Before you start freestyling your tag names, check out your Google Search Console data to see what keywords people are using to find your blog. By tagging with keywords, you help search engine bots find and categorize your posts. That helps new readers find your blog more easily.

2. Tags make a big blog more manageable and appealing to readers.

Consider the tags on a TechCrunch post about robot food delivery. TechCrunch has been around for more than a decade, so they’ve got a huge archive. But they limit the tags to a few relevant labels.

example of blog post tags from techcrunch

Seven of these tags lead to lists of related content that readers can scroll through. The Berkeley SkyDeck tag only applies to the Kiwi story for now. But as the startup accelerator gets more coverage, that tag may appear on more posts. You’ll notice one tag that’s not on this post is food delivery. Even though it’s central to the story, most TechCrunch readers are not there for food delivery stories. Their focus is tech.

So keep your tags tied to what your readers are looking for. Resist the urge to toss in oddball tags, because you’ll end up with a bunch of one-off tags that make your site navigation harder instead of easier and don’t help your SEO.

3. Tags relate your blog posts to one another.

Once you have a few posts with the same tag, you’ve got a little niche within your content that readers can explore. Behind the scenes, you can also use your tags to find related blog posts you might want to link to in new posts. You can do this manually or you can use a WordPress blog plugin that will automatically surface related posts for you.

Once you have a few posts with the same tag, you’ve got a little niche within your content that readers can explore. Behind the scenes, you can also use your tags to find related blog posts you might want to link to in new posts. You can do this manually or you can use a WordPress blog plugin that will automatically surface related posts for you.

You can review your tags to see if it’s time to put together a mega-post that updates and combines related content from several different posts in your archive. Tags can also help you pull together material for an eBook quickly.

4. Tags can show you which blog topics your readers like most.

You can track metrics for your tags, and even your categories, but you’ll have to do a couple of workarounds for Google analytics to make it happen. One option is to create custom dimensions for your tags and categories in your analytics dashboard. If you do this yourself, you’ll also have to modify your tracking code, too.

If you’d rather not mess with your tracking codes, you can use a plugin to set up your custom dimensions. The MonsterInsights Pro plugin has an add-on for exactly this purpose. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics also lets you set up custom dimensions for tags and some other post elements.

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