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Tagging WordPress Posts

December 28th, 2015
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Yesterday I got the bright idea to write a post about tag clouds, personally I think tag clouds are interesting and I was a bit sad I followed expert advice to de-emphasize mine on my blog. Researching and writing the blog post took ample time, but after completion I looked at both the tags I use frequently and all the tags I’ve used exactly once.

An optimal WordPress taxonomy is something ‘experts’ tell you is necessary and they will gladly take your money to tell you which keywords to use and presumably help you re-tag your posts. After years of editing and re-tagging posts my tag cloud which consists of my Top 40 most used tags isn’t bad, it might even be useful hence returning it to the sidebar on the front page of Muskblog, however the literally hundreds of tags I used just once, those archives are not so optimal and you can see why experts tell you de-emphasize even nofollow them. When I published this post I had over 1300 tags in use, I want to get that down to under a thousand to say the least.

So once again I spent many hours and will have to spend many more looking at the tags used once and pruning many of them. Some are easy to eliminate, for instance I used: pics, pictures, picture, and photos. Now I just use one of those tags. I also used: quote, quotation, and quotations. Now I only use one of those tags. This exercise along with getting rid of any typos probably will help with search engine optimization, but what about all those tags I used once?

I’m not against very specific tags, I think they too can help with search engine optimization and helping users find very specific information, for example an author or company’s name is a valid use of a WordPress or hashtag. The problem being after ten years you write about a lot of things exactly once. So after spending hours editing old posts, sometimes it was easy to remove a tag or replace it with a better tag, other times I spared the one use tag from the axe, sometimes I deleted entire posts, I started asking myself two questions:

  1. Will I ever write about this again?
  2. Do I want people coming to my website from search engines for this keyword?

Having realized the power of these two questions I wanted to start over and attempt to once and for all make my taxonomy even better. You don’t have to retag every post all in one sitting, but keeping these two questions in mind while editing old posts and writing new ones is probably a good practice, remember my blogging maximum is Quality, Utility, Economy.

How many tags to use per post is another subject of some debate. I’d already re-taged every post at least once and I limited myself to no more than five tags per post. I think having limits helps with focussing your writing and thus your search engine optimization efforts too. Many experts would advocate no more than three tags per post. I decided since my blog is so big and I had blogged for years before tags came to WordPress that I’d allow myself up to five, but now looking at the hundreds of tags I’ve used once, being even stricter with yourself might be wise. Trying to fit each post into exactly one category is also a good habit which will help with your analytics.

I don’t usually blog this frequently but I am on vacation which turned into a stay-cation. I should be studying for the CFA® exam and I will study today as it is also going to be a rest day from the gym, but there are two more important tasks to do in order to complete this post, besides re-reading and re-taging every single one of my posts which has become almost an annual tradition, I need to look for expert opinions I can review and link to and I am curious after all this optimization will I get more visitors from search engines in 2016 and what are my top tags?

Expert Opinions on Optimal WordPress Taxonomies

Well looking for for ‘expert’ opinions some blogs or articles that may do well in search engines didn’t get my link because they were too eager to popup a newsletter signup before I’d even gotten to read the article. I also avoided linking to sites that looked too spammy. WordPress and search engine optimization best practice must be very competitive fields these days, us old dogs with legitimately ten years of experience are rare, I really should write a book or monetize this blog. Someone asked me for advice in choosing his book cover the other day, someday I will write a book, but it isn’t likely to be about WordPress or search engine optimization.

Also while doing a series of web searches in Google I got hit with a captcha. I’ve been searching the Internet since before there was a Google and I’ve never seen a search engine display a captcha before showing the next page of results. I blame scrapers and it probably doesn’t help that I’m using a VPN from inside China. It is probably someone else on the same network causing me grief, the Internet in China is unreliable to say the least.

Captcha while searching Google WTF?

If you have thoughts on optimal WordPress taxonomies or why Google decided to hit me with my first ever captcha while looking for articles to link to about optimal WordPress taxonomy and SEO leave a comment below.


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