A Digital Editor’s Guide to Content Tagging

You’ve got digital content, now you’ve got to tag it. So you start brainstorming “keywords” your content is about. In less than 30 seconds, you’re able to rattle off a lengthy list of topics that you feel certain describe the information you’re about to post. You might even be thinking that search engines are going to see these bonus keywords on your page and rank you higher on search engine results pages! All done, right?

Digital navigation through tags

Tags are a great way to navigate websites. Countless digital content sources, including this post from Beginner’s Guide for WordPress, will explain how your website categories (or top-level navigation) function like a table of contents, while tags are your index; they describe your post on a much more detailed level.

Content tagging can be good for search, but not in the way you may have initially thought. This older post from Search Engine Land explains that: “When tagging is applied to a website . . . it can significantly increase the site’s traffic by achieving visibility for a much larger array of search terms.” When you tag multiple pieces of content in the same way, you’re telling search engines there’s plenty to see on your site about the specific topic, or “keyword,” you’ve identified.

What is your content about really?

For the overzealous, the real litmus test for content tagging comes down to a user experience test. Say you are going to label your content X. How interested is a reader who is interested in X going to be with what you’re presenting? Will the reader be:

  • Extremely interested in this content
  • Very interested in this content
  • Somewhat interested in this content
  • Slightly interested in this content
  • Not at all interested in this content

If your answer isn’t the first two, X is probably not a good tag. And you might want to take a look at the 4 tips below to ensure good tagging technique.

4 Best Practices for Tagging Content Well

  1. Go granular: Broader may work better for categories, but the more specific the better when it comes to tags—provided you can also achieve No. 2…
  2. Fill your content containers well: A tag with a plethora of information on a very specific topic is likely to keep a reader more engaged than a tag that has only one or two pieces of content behind it (think near-empty container). If you are creating a new tag, make sure you have other content that could be tagged the same way.
  3. Consider SEO when selecting tags: Do readers search more for the acronym or the spelled out version? The singular or plural construction? Use Keyword Planner and check SERPs to find out.
  4. Don’t over tag your content: Following the above tagging litmus test, a 300-word blog post may only have two or three tags that fit the bill.

Want to learn more about content tagging? If you use WordPress, read: “WordPress Tags: Everything You Need to Know”

To get slightly back-end technical, try: “The Right Way to Use Categories and Tags in WordPress to Boost SEO”

Tell us what you think of these resources! Were they helpful when zeroing in correct tags? Share any techniques you find useful when tagging digital content in the comments below.

Image courtesy of cambodia4kidsorg, Flickr Creative Commons

By Susan E. Stegemann

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