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Google Discusses Impact of Tags on Rankings via @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller answered a question about tags on blog posts and their impact on rankings. The person asking the question wanted to know if there was any benefit to it.

Article Post Tags

A website normally organizes the content through categorizing the content topics in a way that makes it easy for users to navigate to the topics of interest through the menu navigation system.

Tags are an additional way for users to navigate to similar content. But tags are generally not a part of the formal site navigation.

When a user finishes reading a web page they may find links (called tags) with keywords that link to similar content.

Difference Between Categories and Tags

Categories are generally sections of a website that can be navigated from a menu located at the top of a web page. The purpose of categories is for organizing content in a logical taxonomy of topics.

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The purpose of tags is to help site visitors explore similar topics. Tags are typically displayed at the beginning and/or end of an article and sometimes displayed elsewhere along the right or left hand of the page.

History of Blog Post Tag Use

Bloggers in the past used to prolifically link to other articles on a site using keywords in the tags. The reason for doing so was the belief that the keywords used in the tags might influence search engines to rank those articles for the keywords used in the tags.

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What ended up happening was that a site would bloat with scores or hundreds of tag archive pages that linked to articles, with many of those tag archive pages listing mostly the same articles.

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Those tag pages essentially became duplicate content, thin pages.

The practice of using tags to interlink content thus began to lose popularity. There’s nothing wrong with using tags to help users find similar content.

But overdoing the use of tags can become problematic because of the thin pages created, necessitating technical SEO solutions for essentially self-inflicted problems.

Do Article Category and Post Tags Help Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know if there was any benefit of using multiple categories and tags for articles.

“The post category and post tag does it have any impact on ranking of the blog post?”

John Mueller downplayed any SEO benefit while communicating other benefits of using tags.

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To the question of whether there is a ranking benefit for using tags, Mueller answered:

“Not necessarily.

So it’s not necessarily that we would try to recognize tags on a page.

But these are links and potentially they go to… category page, your tag page and that could be another page that we could index or that we could use to pick up links to your articles.”

Mueller is saying that the use of tags could be a way to help Google discover more web pages about similar topics.

My preference is to link to articles that are specifically about a given topic. In my experience, links to specific articles tends to get more clicks than a bare keyword that links to an article archive.

In my opinion it’s a better user experience to present a link to a relevant article than to send a user to a page of links.

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No SEO “Magic” in Article Tags

Mueller went on to debunk the idea that there’s an “inherent” ranking benefit to tags.

Mueller’s explanation:

“So it’s not that there’s any inherent… magic around tags. It’s just… it creates more links and more pages within your site.”

Should You Use Post Tags?

Tags have largely fallen out of favor over the past several years and for good reason. Over-reliance on tags can create too many thin pages.

Yet tags can be useful for surfacing content that might be buried deep within the regular category menu structure.

Perhaps the best approach to tags is to integrate it into a well-considered SEO plan. Creating tags on an impromptu basis might be a less sound approach.

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Citation

Watch the Google Office Hours Hangout from about the eight minute mark:

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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