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Tags in WordPress – Bad for SEO

Published date: 9th September 2015
Last modified: 8th June 2017

Running and maintaining a website is a complicated business particularly with search engine optimisation and digital marketing.

We know that the search engines hate duplicate content, and there are ways to insure this doesn’t happen to your website.

A lot of website owners don’t realise they’re creating an issue by using a pre built in function available on most CMS systems like WordPress. This post explains the ins and outs of it all.

We know that keywords are not used anymore in the meta keyword fields as this can be seen as keyword stuffing, however there is a Tag[1] option which a lot of website owners use to help tell the users what the article and blog is.

A lot of website owners believe that using the tags can create a tag cloud or a way to find the article on the search engines as they will pick up the URL.

The actual reason for the tags function is to help users search and find related blogs/articles very easily on site.

URL! What do you mean?

When you create a tag in WordPress you create a URL for example:

http://www.yourdomain.com/tag/content

Now you’re thinking great another link for my site excellent, however this is very dangerous for your website.

The search engines will see your website possibly more than 4 times. Yes that right. Lets say you had a blog on Digital Marketing for WordPress. You use put the tags “Wordpress’,”Digital Marketing”,”SEO”,Marketing” . This is how the search engines see:

  1. http://www.yourdomain.co.uk/digital-marketing-for-wordpress
  2. http://www.yourdomain.co.uk/wordpress/digital-marketing-for-wordpress
  3. http://yourdomian.co.uk/wordpress/digital-marketing-for-wordpress

So to the search engine it will see your piece of content 4 x more for every tag you use. So if you use 3 tags that is at least 12 to 13 versions of the same piece of content.

If you’re using sitemaps for your website which actually have doesn’t have an impact on your search engine ranking position but actually tells which URLs to look at you are basically handing a massive list of duplicate content to the website.

We know a lot of networkers and business consultants say oh you must use tags but they don’t really understand the full impact of what you’re doing to your website. So in a nutshell your setting your website up to being hit by the search engine penalties for duplicate content.  We do have an SEO Workbook which can help you setup the site properly. Download it here

Don’t Panic there is a very simple solution?

There is a way to stop this issue very quickly and all it requires is a very powerful plugin for WordPress called WordPress SEO by Yoast. The plugin is very easy to install.

Yoast SEO

The plugin adds a lot of extra functionality specifically to help website masters to repair and stop any problems with the technical elements of search engine optimisation. It is also very easy to use with very little technical understanding.

In this article we will not go through the setup process as Yoast the plugin developer has how to guides to help you out.

https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

So we’ll assume that you now have the plugin setup. You then need to click on SEO in your WordPress administration areas. Then click on “XML Sitemaps”. This will open up the following screen.

xml-sitemap-yoast-plugin

There will be several tabs click on Taxonomies tab.

exclude-sitemap-wordpress

Make sure you tick the box “Tags (post_tag)” then click on Save Changes. This will then make sure that the Tags sitemap isn’t created.

Once you’ve done this you will need to make sure that every tag now is setup correctly.

 

You will see the following screen:

 

If you now click on the Tag you will then get the following screen.

Edit Tags in WordPress

 

You can put in a SEO title and Description and a Canonical link however we would recommend you reading Yoast[2] post on this.

You’ll need to make sure the “Noindex this post_tag” has the “Always noindex” selected as well as “Include in sitemap?” and “Never include” selected. This will make sure that the tag and URL will definitely not be indexed in the search engines.

 

No Index Tags

If your still unsure that you’ve eliminated all the duplicate content, we would recommend getting a SEO Audit done and this will definitely weed out any other issues and make sure your website is 100% setup correctly.

For more information on SEO audits you can either give us a call or you can read more on the service by visiting https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/seo-audits-making-website-success/

Reference websites:

  1. https://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/tags/
  2. https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/canonical/

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