Mueller Shares How Tags Impact Rankings
Google’s John Mueller recently answered a question regarding tags on blog posts from an SEO consultant. He shared how tags can affect a website’s rankings, piquing the curiosity of many Google SEO consultants who wonder what benefits could be obtained from using them
Websites usually organise their content by using categories. With content topics categorised neatly, readers can easily navigate to the subject that they were looking for through a site’s menu navigation system.
Aside from categories, website users can also organise their content topics using tags. However, tags are not usually a part of formal site navigation. Once a person finishes reading a piece of content, they may see links or tags that redirect them to similar types of content when clicked.
The difference between categories and tags is that the former are sections of a site that can be navigated from menus, which are usually found at the top of a website. Categories help organise content in a logical taxonomy of topics.
On the other hand, tags allow readers to find other content with similar topics. They are shown either at the start or the end of a blog article; sometimes on the left or right part of a webpage.
Previously, bloggers used keywords in their tags to prolifically link to other articles on a website. They did this because they believed that the keywords in the tags might influence their search engine rankings. Most of the time, many of these tag archive pages listed overly similar articles. The result was that they eventually became duplicate webpages.
Because of this undesirable result, the use of tags to interlink content became less popular, although there is nothing necessarily wrong with using tags to direct users to other relevant content. The problem lies in overusing tags, as this results in too many duplicates, thin webpages.
In a Google Office Hours Hangout, an SEO asked Mueller if they could benefit from using multiple tags and categories for their articles. Mueller replied that this is not true per se and that Google does not necessarily try to recognise tags on a webpage. However, these links could possibly go to tag pages, category pages, or any other pages on a website that the search engine company could index.
What Mueller means is that using tags in blog articles can help Google discover other webpages that contain similar topics. This could gain a webpage more clicks and readers than just using a bare keyword that links to an article archive.
However, he debunked the idea that Google SEO consultants would instantly get ranking benefits by simply using tags in their content. Mueller said that there are no inherent ranking benefits to tags, but it does help create more links and webpages within a website.
The overuse of tags is now less common these past several years as they resulted in too many thin duplicates. However, they can still be useful for surfacing content articles that are too deep within the regular category menu structure. The best way to use tags is to incorporate them in a well-considered SEO strategy plan.
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