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Too Many Tags (May) Spoil the Post! May 1, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging.
Tags: , , , , ,

I learned another thing about blogging today (during a study break, of course).  I am still retarded when it comes to all this technical blog stuff, but at least I’m improving.

When I first started this blog, I was under the impression that tags were crucial to increasing the readership of posts.  As I understood it, the more tags (with key words) that you have, the more likely someone is to find your blog in a search.  And so I bombarded any post I did with as many tags as I could possibly come up with. Sometimes for a single, decent-sized post I could have up to 30 tags!

On the other hand, I understood categories to be no more than just an internal method of sorting your posts into specific groups for ease of searching and browsing.

However, I found out today about WordPress.com’s ‘global tags’.  Here’s a post explaining what they are. In short, the global tag system enables readers to see all the recent posts which have been marked with a particular tag or have been put in a particular category.  For example, if you read a post of mine that’s been tagged with ‘Writing’ (or put into the ‘Writing’ category)  and you click on that tag or category at the top of the post, you’ll be transported to a page listing all the recent posts that have been tagged with ‘Writing’ or put in the ‘Writing’ category of their blog.

Readers can even browse WordPress’s tag page (located here) which lists the posts from the last 48 hours according to tag or category.

I kind of already knew that, but what I didn’t know was that in order for your post to be included in the global tag system, you cannot have more than a total of 12 tags or categories for any single post.  In other words, if I had 10 tags and 3 categories for a particular post in the ‘Writing’ category (ie total of 13), that post would not make it to the global tag system when someone looks for recent posts on ‘Writing’.

Maybe everyone already knew this, but I was shocked!  I had no idea what my incessant tagging may have produced the opposite effect of what I had intended.

On the other hand, perhaps not.  Some of my most popular posts as of late (eg the one summarising my European Adventure) had heaps of tags, and certainly a lot more than 12 in total.  Nevertheless, I’ve spent the last few hours trying to cut down on the number of tags and categories of my earlier posts, so I guess we’ll see whether having more tags or less is the way to go.



1. scalesoflibra - May 1, 2009

I thought the exact same thing! Only I was limiting how many tags I used because I didn’t want the tag cloud to get too nutty, nor did I want to take it away. I even go back and consolidate tags of older posts for the cloud’s sake.

Thanks for this post, it was certainly informative!

pacejmiller - May 2, 2009

Thanks for the kind words. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I tried to reduce the tags and categories of old posts to 12 or less, but I gave up after a while. After all, they are old posts, and the global tag thing really only applies to posts in the last 48 hours (or so I think).

(Computer whizzes out there tell me if I am wrong) But I think the way to go about it is to keep your more generic posts to 12 tags/categories or less (and try to include in them the common tags from the WordPress tag page), and go all out on your more obscure ones that are unlikely to fit into any of the global categories anyway.

2. Matt - May 3, 2009

i didnt know that there was a limitation of 12. its probably to stop excessive tagging. as the person that previously advised u re tagging, i’ll take this tip on board as well!

i think u may need to move the travel pages to another blog, because its static content, which you can’t really update. will explain later.

3. Matt - May 3, 2009

tags are used to categorise and assists with search for information. i.e u can search of all blog posts tagged with “twitter” for example.

the practice of tagging by users is very interesting, its called folksnomies ( a play on the term taxonomy).

also, i reckon that tag clouds have limited value for webpages. i dont really see the point in having them, and i rarely click on tags in tag clouds.

4. pacejmiller - May 3, 2009

I started snooping around in the WordPress forums and that’s what was said. In another post, it simply said the more tags you have the less likely your post will be in the global tag system. But with the global tag system it’s really only the first 48 hours where you lose out. After that, the more tags you have the better it should be, no? Some of my old posts with more than 12 tags were found when I clicked on a particular subject tag, but the number of tags on the search page were automatically reduced to 12 for that post.

Yeah, as I understand it WordPress has 2 main problems – one is that you can’t tag your pages so people can’t find them via searches. The other is that you can’t put description and keyword tags in your blog, which also reduces the chances search engines will find them. Now that you have moved away and gotten your own host (is that what it’s called?) you should be able to fix those problems.

Man I’m turning into such a geek! Bad luck about the Bulls, by the way.

5. Karina - August 23, 2010

what I would like to know how is how many tags in total in the entire blog for SEO purposes. I am assuming that not too many would be better. I have more than 300 in total in my Blog. The point of not having a very crowded tag cloud is a good one to consider. I wish we all had a manual to do it better. Thanks for your post!

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