How Important are Tags in 2016 for SEO?

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How Important are Tags in 2016 for SEO? | SEJ

If you want to improve the visibility of your website, increase traffic and boost your brand’s revenue, you need to run a strong SEO campaign.

While building backlinks, developing your social media presence, and other off-site practices are great for boosting your site’s rankings, on-page optimization is still incredibly important.

Arguably, one of the most crucial aspects of on-page SEO is tags. Whether it’s title tags, header tags, meta tags or blog post tags, they have been demonstrated to increase traffic and boost engagement.

However, are they still as important and effective in 2016 as they have been in the past? In this article, we’ll take a look at the role of tags of every type, and explore their impact on SEO in 2016.

How Important are Tags in 2016 for SEO? | SEJ

A Brief History of Tags

Tags are generally used to classify content in a way that is useful for the reader and easy for search engines to understand, which potentially makes them incredibly important for both SEO and usability.

However, over the years, the way we use tags and their relative impact on rankings has changed. The key question is: are tags as important now as they once were?

Meta tags have lost their power in a big way on rankings over the past several years and, as a natural result, the number of websites using them has vastly diminished. We’re going to discard those as being dead in the water in terms of SEO benefits.

However, is the same true for title tags, header tags, and blog post tags–are they as important for SEO in 2016 as they once were?

Let’s take a look at each in order to answer that key question.

Title Tags

As you probably know, title tags are used by search engines (in part) to determine a page’s topic, and are also displayed in SERPs.

A good title tag will demonstrate what the user can expect from the page before they actually click. In this way, they are a strong determiner of click-through rates. But how do they affect your site’s SEO?

How Important are Title Tags in 2016 for SEO?

For many years, title tags have been considered one of the most important factors of on-page SEO. In fact, in the past, title tags were seen by many as only second to good ol’ fashioned keyword stuffing in terms of importance. But are they as important in 2016?

According to 2016 research from Backlinko.com, Google’s shift toward semantic search could affect the relative importance of the title tag. The researchers found that a keyword-optimized title tag was associated with a better ranking, but that the correlation was smaller than it once was.

Findings suggest that Google no longer requires your title tag to include an exact keyword in order to interpret a page’s subject matter. For example, if you type “how to start a business” into Google, only six out of the ten top pages include an exact match keyword in their title tag.

That said, search engines will still compare your title tag to other content on your page, to ensure keyword consistency when indexing and ranking web pages, still making them an essential part of SEO.

In other words, title tags are still an important part of on-site SEO, but they are far from the be-all and end-all.

Header Tags

For the purposes of this article, header tags refers to the HTML markup used to distinguish headings and subheadings within your content from other types of text (e.g. paragraph text). They run from h1–h6, historically in a sense of ‘importance’.

The usage of header tags these days is the source of some debate. Before the advent and growing popularity of HTML5, it was typical to include just one h1 tag within your content, and the contents of that tag were seen to be pretty influential in terms of on-site SEO.

However, these days, it is possible to utilize multiple h1 tags on a per-section basis, thus arguably lessening the importance of the hierarchy of header tags and encouraging search engines to be less simplistic in their analysis of any given page.

How Important are Header Tags in 2016 for SEO?

Searchmetrics’ 2015 Ranking Factors reported that two in every five webpages in SERPs didn’t utilize h1 tags at all. Was this simply a sign of lazy web design, or a reflection of the relative unimportance of header tags?

On the contrary, the amount of pages using h1 tags has increased compared to 2014. In the top 30, this ratio has increased by 4%. On that basis alone, it would seem that the web designers of today consider header tags to be more important than they did previously.

Furthermore, several case studies have highlighted the importance of using header tags effectively. For example, SearchEccentric worked with Motor Cars Ltd. in overhauling their header tags to be more SEO-friendly. Rankings leapt accordingly, with one keyword in particular jumping from 320 in the SERPs to the top spot.

In terms of on-site SEO, header tags are certainly here to stay–it has been demonstrated that careful optimization can lead to major ranking increases.

Blog Post Tags

Most blogging platforms–like WordPress–provide you with the ability to add contextual tags to your posts. We refer to these as “blog post tags” in this article, in order to differentiate them from other types of tags.

Blog post tags are part of your site’s taxonomy. WordPress and other blogging platforms utilize taxonomies to classify and better organize information. They provide visitors with a list of posts grouped by generally more specific topics than the categories. If you think of your site as a book, with categories as your website’s table of contents and tags as your index, you won’t go too far wrong.

For example, if you run a fitness blog, you might have categories like “Diet”, “Workouts”, and “Fitness Tips”. Those three are broad terms that you would use to categorize posts. When you write a post and put it in the workout category, you might enter tags like, “pushups”, “squats” and “lunges”, if the post features them.

These tags can be valuable to your site’s visitors and to search engines. For visitors, it improves the usability of your website in terms of being able to identify posts that cover specific topics. For search engines, it makes interpreting the page’s content easier and can ultimately aid your site in ranking better.

How Important are Blog Post Tags for SEO in 2016?

Blog post tags do not necessarily improve search engine rankings in and of themselves, but, while they might not be directly influential, they can improve SEO indirectly.

For starters, though most search engines don’t rank category and tag pages highly in the SERPs in 2016, high-quality tagging makes it easier for Google to see what your website is all about.

For example, if you run a food blog that often focuses on vegan desserts, and you have a tag page for vegan desserts that links to many different pages and has various posts linking back to it, it sends a strong signal to search engines that vegan desserts are big part of your site.

Furthermore, while tag and category pages aren’t necessarily ranked highly, they are still ranked—meaning they are a viable traffic source. Blog post tags not only provide you with another source of traffic, they also improve user experience.

Using tags meticulously in posts makes it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for on your site. Blog post tags can lower your bounce rate and increase time on site–both behavioral factors that Google take into account–as they make websites easier to navigate (when utilized effectively). They provide the user with a convenient way to access relevant content and, if the user easily finds what they are looking for, they’re much more likely to stay on your site.

Google’s focus on user intent and perceived quality of experience is only set to increase in the future; as of now, they have evaluators manually trawling SERPs and ‘grading’ websites based upon subject markers of ‘quality’. Those who don’t think providing a good user experience matters to SEO are quickly falling behind the times.

Our point is this: If you can provide a high-quality user experience that compels visitors to visit multiple pages and stay on your site for long periods of time, you can expect to benefit in terms of SEO. Effective tagging can represent one piece of the puzzle in terms of improving the user experience, and ultimately benefit your rankings, even if not directly.

Don’t Miss out–Up Your SEO Game With Tags

To get the most out of your SEO strategy, you need to use tags. Optimizing your content with relevant and useful tags will improve the visitor experience and boost your rankings.

Now it’s over to you. What’s your opinion on the use of title, header, and blog post tags for SEO purposes? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Image Credits

Featured image: photovibes/Shutterstock.com
In-post image: marekuliasz/Shutterstock.com

Aleh Barysevich

Aleh Barysevich

CMO and Co-Founder at Link-Assistant.Com
Aleh Barysevich is CMO and Co-Founder at Link-Assistant.Com, the company that makes SEO PowerSuite (website promotion toolkit) and BuzzBundle (social media software) for bloggers, webmasters and online marketers.
Aleh Barysevich
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  • https://www.nethit.nl/ Kim Pittoors

    No! You cant use more than 1 H1… Thats a stupid thing to do. The page you are linking to at W3 doesnt say that either. And even if it had, that means nothing! They are not running Google. Multiple h1 is bad for SEO!

    • Shubham Tiwari

      You are right Kim, using more than one h1 per page could not be beneficial and even it would create confusion for google bots to understand what title is more important within the content. This is why there are 6 header tags for different reasons, as being a experienced digital marketer, i would not recommend to use more than one h1 tag per page.

      Thank you !

      • https://www.nethit.nl/ Kim Pittoors

        Yup… He should strip that from his article. By the way: The rest of the article was good and interesting. I see I forgot to mention that. Thank you for taking the time to write this Aleh Barysevich!

      • Shubham Tiwari

        Yes of course, rest of the information is quite good, thanks mate and keep sharing 🙂

  • http://www.crackedsoftwaresdownload.com/ jacob7394

    hey! Thank for sharing this useful Update Appreciated ! ..

  • http://www.mrdrupal.com/drupal-development-services.php mr drupal

    Thanks for great article 🙂

  • Alexandermark

    Thanks for shared useful information..

  • http://www.bibekkumarshrestha.com.np Bibek Kumar Shrestha

    Thanks for such a great post !!

  • http://www.rankclinch.com/ Rank Clinch

    Its a good post..keep posting and update the information.

  • http://ogcontent.com/ Scott Taft

    The usage of the word “tags” in this post is misleading. Title Tags and Heading Tags are HTML markup that is universally accepted by all websites and search engine crawlers. These “tags” are still pretty important in on-page SEO.

    Blog post tags on the other hand are a different type of “tag” that refer to a method of organizing your blog’s content. Blog “Categories” fall into this same classification. What should be made clear is that blog Tags and Categories are handled differently on every blogging platform and the fact that a page has tags or categories does not directly affect your on-page SEO.

    In fact, Tags and Categories can create a whole mess of problems if not handled correctly. If your Tag pages are being indexed in search engines, each tag you add to a post adds a whole new page and if it’s not a tag you are using often, that page will remain thin and useless to users.

    For blog owners, I would recommend using Categories and Tags purposefully and avoid adding a slew of tags to your posts. Less is more.

    • Aleh Barysevich

      Hi Scott, thank you for your feedback and breaking down different types of “tags” in your comment. I concur that blog post tags don’t affect on-page SEO directly, and that’s what I write about in the article. Good point about being more consistent with blog tags and making sure there are enough articles to cover each.

    • http://gsesoftsolutions.com/ Ravi Kumar

      I was using categories and tags in my blog. Upon reading one article, I just did deindex both from the search engine. I just saw that Shout me Loud Blog also did this. Please guide. I am just confused.

  • http://jewelclicks.blogspot.com Jewel Clicks

    Thanks for writing up this article. Recently my friend and I discussed how important tags this year. I still go for tags for new websites (especially on startup companies) This is good to share for them to read about how important tags to their website. Good information!

    Have a great day!

  • http://www.digiwonks.com Digi Wonks

    snsns

  • Asliceofdigital

    Usage of tag in website plays important role for SEO. I was confused about title tag this article made me clear.Thanks for writing this article

  • http://www.systootech.com acton sha

    thanx for this great article. have a nice day aleh.

  • http://www.desinelabs.com/seo-services-bangalore Mark

    This is very informative.. Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.aed.in Mehul Bavishi

    Thanks for sharing such a great and informative article.

  • http://www.localwebdesignconsultant.com.au/ Sam Shehzad

    Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code. We all know tags from blog culture, and meta tags are more or less the same thing, little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.

  • https://school-time.co/ Nagalaxmi

    Came to know that some meta tags are so important in seo. but now a days meta keywords are not using. great information. Thanks for sharing

  • Helen Greene

    It is a great post. i got some important information about tags and how it can be used to get more traffic on my website. i am gonna make use of this info for my work. Keep sharing this kind of information.

  • http://www.breastlight.com Jasmine William

    Nice post regarding tags, After reading your whole post i share my experience ,being a blogger i used tags most of the time in my articles which works really good some time

  • medchrome

    i stopped using tag years ago. Because it had stopped adding to my seo

  • http://www.geekpoweredstudios.com John Leo Weber

    Are you seriously suggesting that using more than one h1 per page is a smart move? I don’t know a single SEO, UX, web designer, or Google algorithm that would agree.

    • https://twitter.com/WPezDeveloper WPezDeveloper

      I beg to differ. Ultimately headline tags are for accessibility. In that context it’s certainly possible to need multiple (e.g.) H1s per page. I find it hard to believe that Google would not want to find a way to index a page that is accessibility-friendly. Time and again we’ve seen Google’s “Think about the visitor first and not the indexing bot” come true. I can’t imagine accessibility being any different. In fact, I think it would be easy to argue that accessibility is a signal that indicates quality. I think we’d all agree Google has a thing for quality.

    • Aleh Barysevich

      There are two schools of though on this, but with the rollout of HTML5, the fact is that multiple h1s are semantically correct. So as long as there’s a logical reason to use those, you’re good and it’s not a spammy trick. For example, you can use multiple h1s for separate content sections. That makes perfect sense for the in-depth content, helping both users and search engines better understand the structure.

      • http://www.geekpoweredstudios.com John Leo Weber

        Aleh, I agree with you — semantically you are able to use multiple h1 tags in an html5 site, but this presupposes that the site perfectly utilizes and tags, which most simple websites do not. The issue of when and how you can use more than one h1 is technically complex, therefore I just err on the side of caution when advising how to use header tags. I think that sticking to the traditional hierarchy of one h1 per page is a safer bet. Cheers!

      • Corbb O’Connor

        As a blind user, there is no need for multiple h1 tags. Multiple headings, sure. That’s why we have h2, h3, etc. Every page designed with the user in mind has one focus and one h1. Tell me the main point and then build off of it.

  • https://twitter.com/WPezDeveloper WPezDeveloper

    Please don’t think it’s okay to neglect Headline tags. They are for accessibility more than they are for SEO.

  • Aitzaz Haider

    Very nice and informative post, thanks for sharing. I use title and heading tags on my blog. What about “meta description” tag, is it still effective for SEO or not and what about image alt tags?

  • http://instanceofjavaforus.blogspot.in/ instance of java

    Nice Thanks for great article 🙂

  • Gascone

    It doesn’t matter how SEO optimized your site is if people don’t
    know how to interact with it. Developing and designing around a superb UX is key.

  • viratsingh

    Thank you great article.
    but what about others header tags h2 to h6 they are important or not?

  • http://www.kiranaoli.com Rohit Nagpure

    Hello Aleh Barysevich, Thank you for this great Article..I am going to do On page work for new website and I will use tags for website promotion.

    I notices now going days SEO is not easy because keywords tag, description tag are the past now we cannot promote our keywords on that So I also want to know or want more details where we can keep keywords on website where search engine will easily find it.

  • http://www.urhealthorbit.com/ Yourhealth Orbit

    great article….thank you

  • http://emits.ca Jim Conte

    Great post, thanks. It is interesting to see the differing opinions from some of the commentors. Not being an SEO expert I try to read articles like this to learn more about what’s good and what’s not, this will be helpful. Thanks again.

  • http://www.plagiarismsearch.com Tom Rider

    I really enjoyed reading your article! Recently, I have read an article about meta tags in SEO. From that article, I learned that meat keywords are an example of a meta tag that doesn’t make much sense to use nowadays. A few years ago, the meta keyword tags may have been profitable, but not in the present. It would be great to read more articles written by you! I’m looking forward it!

  • http://www.rapidsofttechnologies.com/ Rapidsoft Technologies P. Ltd

    Thanks for sharing! But my question is that how much tags we can use in our blog post. 2-3 or more?

  • http://www.seoprogetto.com Progetto SEO

    It was detailed post…thankyou!

  • https://in.linkedin.com/in/sureshseo84 suresh Patel

    Great Article , just amazing,,,

  • http://www.imgglobalinfotech.com/ Chris Lyan

    Nice
    post Aleh Barysevich! Thanks for sharing this with us. As you explained about
    tags and their importance in present, I will focus more on these points in my
    future SEO campaign.

  • Yogesh Kumar

    Such a great post..awsome article thanks for explain the role of title tags and other meta tags.. I really enjoyed this informative article.

  • http://www.webmarcom.net/ Jody Raines

    Tags versus category has always been a bit of a mystery… Thanks for clarifying that, Aleh, and thanks for the well -written and informative post. I am guilty of periodically neglecting to change the default to a category or tag, so it’s helpful to have a reminder as to the importance of using correct, well thought through tags.

    • Aleh Barysevich

      Thanks Jody, I’m glad you found the article helpful.

  • https://www.nethit.nl/ Kim Pittoors

    Thats right. You can but only in HTML5 when in a different section. But even then using multiple h1’s doesnt make your website rank better in Google. So why should we confuse people by telling them is okay? Lets not over complicate things even more for clients.

  • http://money-on-internet.com Cathrine Friberg

    Thanks for a great article! I learn as much I can about SEO and everything around it to help me get my two blogs better ranked on Google and this article was very usefull!

  • http://ideastranquilas.blogspot.com/ Germán Andrés Castaño Vásquez

    This is a really good articie, thank you for good explanations about several key concepts. I only hope that Google keeps this rules quiet for a while.

  • Rodney Ragwan

    Thanks for a great article. I am noticing that your tags are the same size all the way to the bottom. Any comments?