Before I start singing the praises of Tags, perhaps first an introduction to exactly what Tags are and why you should be using them is in order.
Unlike the architectural way many web sites organize content (such as categories, groups, and folders), tags represent the methodology of extracting and emphasizing those terms and short phrases which best summarize the scope and content of an individual Post or Page. In this way, they can be thought of being much like Keywords used by search engines. They are so similar in fact, that many Content Management Systems and Search Engines treat them interchangeably. This is generally well and good, but Tags have additional advantages that can be leveraged to the advantage of site owners and visitors.
How to Tag Posts
WordPress makes particularly robust use of Tags and every Post can be quickly tagged during creation. You can enter pretty much anything you like as long as they are separated by a coma. Special care should be taking with multi-word Tags since “space,ghost,television,show” is NOT the same as “space ghost,television,show”. Many site owners stick to Tags that actually appear in the Posts they are assigned to. This is probably not a bad idea if you plan to use the same Tags for SEO Keywords. If you are not, however, Tags can also be used to add additional non-contextual information to the Post. For example, a Post about code snippets could be assigned the Tags “code”, “snippet” and/or “code snippet” even if those words didn’t actually appear in the Post.
If this sounds like a lot of potential work, you’re right, it can be. WordPress helps out though. Right “out of the box” WordPress begins remembering your most frequently used Tags. You can access them in the Post creation/edit page by simply clicking on “Choose from the most used tags” below the Post Tags field.
Help With Tagging
For high volume publishers and those with even more limited time, there are additional tools in the form of plugins that can automate or semi-automate the Tagging process. We’ll provide a review of Tagging tools in future It’s WordPress articles, so consider following us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or using the other Subscribe tools in the sidebar to your right.
But what if you’ve already generated a lot of content in WordPress and never tagged it initially? Going back through hundreds, possibly thousands of Posts and finding the ones that are untagged is enough to discourage even the most ardent site owner (or their unfortunate interns). We’ll provide a review of auto-tagging tools in future It’s WordPress articles, so consider following us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or using the other Subscribe tools in the sidebar to your right.
The Pay Off
Now begins the fun part. As your content begins to accumulate, you will gain more and more Posts that share matching Tags; particularly if you are diligent about using consistent ones. This allows you to dynamically call up archives for any single Tag, listing all Posts that use that Tag. You can even write custom queries to call multiple Tags or exclude Tags. This allows you and your visitors to access highly filtered sets of content, without the server load or impact of full content search. Furthermore you can leverage Tagging to create opportunities to further engage readers. Used in conjunction with other analytics you can create lists of Related Articles to accompany your new and existing Posts increasing the chance visitors will explore your site further and engage any possible conversion goals you have set.
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I'm the front-man of It's WordPress. I come from a diverse array of backgrounds, enjoying the opportunity to expand my knowledge base and skill set by re-inventing myself. I enjoy environments that focus on emerging information, technology and concepts. I put on the technical hat in my early 20s and never really looked back. I'm love technology and the internet, as well as the outdoors and avidly hike, kayak and camp every chance I get.
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