The importance of tags
I’ve recently read an article on Search Engine Journal about the impact of tag pages on the sites or blogs using them. Keeping it short, a tag page is a page generated in order to group the whole information from that site containing a specific word or expression.
So, is it good or not to have tags on our sites? I’d like to give an exact answer, but unfortunately I can’t. Because there are a lot of cases when a site with tags can be better positioned than one without, or on the contrary, one without tags can be better positioned than one with tags, this subject remains open, to be compared and analyzed. Why I’ve chosen to write about this? Because it can easily be categorized as on page SEO.
Google’s position about this pages is clear, and it says something like this: use robots.txt to prevent/find automatically generated pages, which don’t bring any value to the visitors coming from search engines. Probably now you will tell me that they actually bring value, and you are right. There are cases when this type of categorizing is ideal for finding the desired information, without any further accessing. But there are also cases when tag pages appear in searches higher than the desired page. As an example, if I want to search for “red Ferrari” and I get a page like “red cars”, where are listed all red cars, I wouldn’t be satisfied.
I was saying that this is an issue which has pros and cons. So I offer 3 solutions:
-Leave them on the page. If you have traffic on the tag pages and if you didn’t had any penalties, if the site structure is good and you are satisfied with the bounce rate and the time spent by visitors, then you should better leave things as they are.
-Remove them. It would be ideal if you don’t have a lot of tags, the traffic brought by them to be small. Make an estimation and calculate the losses. If everything is ok, you can remove them.
-The last solution is to use nofollow , noindex or/and noarchive attributes (individually or all of them at once). ‘nofollow’ tells Google to ignore these pages, that they are of a minimum interest and you don’t want them to attract attention. noindex does exactly what it says: removes them from searches, so that the page will be invisible after some searches. noarchive removes the cache version of these pages.
The advantages of using this last method, at least in nofollow’s case, is that you can remove them if the effect isn’t the desired one, but you have to be ready to receive the tags back with some quality links. I personally don’t recommend applying the nofollow attribute if you don’t have an exact purpose. Noindex and noarchive are good for visitors, but they still won’t solve the problem of the dilution of the site’s popularity.
There is another solution, which consists of transforming these pages in pages with higher value. You can identify a tag page which receives traffic and you can transform it in a category. The content from here will be duplicated (extracted from the site) but you can use rel=canonical to the original articles to make sure you won’t have any problem. Another methods of filling the lack of tags is to use the ‘related’ field and the well known and thrust worthy search engine tab.