Getting the most out of tags

As shown in my previous post on optimizing landing pages, the landing page for the phrase in question is a tags page. Funnily enough, this wasn't an accident.

What is a tags page

A tags page isn't much different to a search results page, in that it shows a summary of content on your site that match a particular criteria.

Actually, this makes a pretty good entry point - if you have several posts on a site covering, say, link building, then the tags page gives the user a better introduction and overview to "link building" than any one post.

Spamdexing

However, tags pages, or search results can look a bit nasty, being just another form of automated content. Matt Cutts has gone on record to say that you should be using a noindex meta tag or robots.txt to hide these pages from Google - covered in my previous post on indexed search results.

Reading between the lines, I think Matt is saying that he wants to see some quality content rather than mass machine-generated shit. And that's not unreasonable.

How to optimise tags pages

  • Treat your tags page link any other page. The same rules regarding titles, URLs, meta descriptions and page content apply. Do your on-page SEO properly.
  • Choose tags for your posts that make appropriate search phrases - this means that most of your tags should be 2-3 words. Istead of tagging something as "links", go with "link building" or "link building strategies" instead.
  • Add some unique content to the page. Because the tags page is generated from snippets of content from other pages, Google can quite easily disregard the page as being duplicate. But if you add a medium sized paragraph of text to each tag, then it's much harder for Google to ignore. And because the paragraph is well written and designed to introduce the user to the topic, it's hard for a search engineer to say it's spam. If you have 100 tags on your blog, this might take you a day to do to your site - not the end of the world.
  • A nice design counts for a lot. If these pages are to be ranking in search results and become entry points to your site, then it makes sense to make them asthetically pleasing to look at. Just like any other landing page.
  • If your tags pages are optimised and ranking well, you can back off on your SEO for the posts themselves - write them for the user and focus less on trying to bludgeon silly phrases into your body content and headings.

The future of tags pages

Aaron Wall says that tags pages are dominating Yahoo search results at present. He suggests that Yahoo should turn down the dial on this for the benefit of their users.

If you rely on tags pages ranking, then it becomes important to maintain an air of quality over these pages so that you don't get burned when search engines decide that tags pages are spam. Make sure your tags pages look the same as great content pages before judgement day comes.
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Tags: on page seoyahoomatt cuttssearch resultsAaron Walltagstags "on page seo" "matt cutts" "aaron wall" yahoo "search results"