How to Properly Tag an Article

There's a lot that goes into creating a quality blog post or online article. You've got to think about SEO (that's search engine optimization, or how people are going to find your article when they "google"), your keywords, your headlines, when to use an H1 or an H2 ... and this could just as easily be Greek to many of you! Don't worry--the intricacies of online content seem  confusing and convoluted, but eventually you'll learn how all those HTML tags work together to help push your content to the most engaged audiences.

What is Tagging?

When you're entering a blog into a content management system, like your WordPress blog or, you'll often see a field near the bottom labeled "tags." You may have noticed these little hyperlinked words at the bottom of your favorite articles on (see the example to the right).

See them, right there below "views" and above the Facebook "Like" button? Those little guys carry a lot of weight when it comes to organizing online content and boosting SEO. In addition to driving this former editorial director crazy, they're one of the most commonly misunderstood and abused elements of online content.

Tags are a form of online organization that allows you to group similar content together, in a way that's most helpful to the reader.

Before you create a tag, think: "Would I click on this tag to find more information?"

Dos and Don'ts of Tagging

Once you understand the purpose of tagging, it becomes easy to properly tag your articles and have them appear exactly where you want them to. Here's what you should, and shouldn't, do when it comes to tagging online content:

DO: Include as many relevant tags as possible, but...

DON'T: Overdo it. Sometimes, there are only a few tags that really make sense. Say you've written a blog post on She Writes about your upcoming novel, The Unicorn Princess. Chances are, "unicorn" and "princess" aren't going to be good tags. They're so specific to your book, they won't be used for other posts as well. Which brings us to...

DO: Think ahead. Are there other current posts that would be tagged with this same tag, or do you know that there will be several posts in the future that can use this tag? If the answer is no, the tag is too specific. 

Tags are meant to help the reader find similar content. In the tagging example above from my blog post, I know that there are other posts about (and will be more in the future!) newsletters and online content. I did not, however, tag this article with "MailChimp" (the e-mail provider I recommend) because it's so specific. If I started a series of posts about using MailChimp, then it would be a good tag. And, you can always go into your old posts and add a new tag if you suddenly see a trend you didn't see before!

DON'T: Get overly specific. See the example above about The Unicorn Princess. I mean, if you're writing tons of posts about unicorns and it makes sense to group them all together, then by all means! But if this is simply a post about the book, then probably not.

DO: Ensure your tags are showing up correctly. Each online content system has a slightly different tagging system. Wordpress is extremely easy to use and you simply enter your tags, separated by commas.

For example: behind the book, historical fiction, memoir

How to Tag a Post on

HOWEVER, works a little differently. At She Writes, tags are automatically separated into individual words and alphabetized, so the above example becomes a very unhelpful list when you hit save:

behind, book, fiction, historical, memoir, the

Can you identify the problem? Even though you entered what you thought were dynamite tags, the system has just created very broad, unhelpful tags like "behind" and my personal enemy, "the." 

To combat this very unhelpful feature that we're hoping to correct sooner rather than never, you simply need to employ some quotation marks. If you have a multi-word tag, place it in quotation marks like this:

"behind the book", "historical fiction", memoir

The system will recognize anything in quotation marks as a single tag, and this editor will be super happy!

Leave your questions about tagging on She Writes (or other sites!) below and I'll be sure to answer you!

Kristin Bustamante is the Chief Content Officer for SparkPoint Studio and manages the content on 

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  • Why isn't this all easier!? Thanks Kristin.

  • Susan J Slack

    Thanks so much for this. My book is just released last week and I have followed advice from She Writes all along the way. That included getting my platform set up almost a year in advance. But still, the publicity train has just left the station. This is advice is a big help. Susan Slack 

    Hey you might find this interesting - I was going to add my blog link and Amazon hopped in there and took the link! (above) Huh! That's okay but not what I thought. Here is blog (with tags) WP blog hopefully

  • Great article! Thanks for clarifying one of the mysteries of blogging...I'm going back and re tagging many of mine!

  • Jill G. Hall

    This is so helpful! I've been writing a blog for several years and didn't know anything about tagging. This will be fun. I can't wait to start doing it.

  • Thank you very much for the tip about tagging on SheWrites, and the reminder to look at the tags I've used on my WordPress blog!

  • So it's almost like a filing system where the tag is the name of the file folder?  (Boy does that question date me!)  Very helpful post.  Would love to read more!

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    Mosey on over to my web site and sign in for your free gift -- an mp3 of me reading my book's first chapter about a beggar in Iraq! ...And a pre-publication discount!
  • Marcy Tooker

    Great information. Thank you so much.

  • Patti DeNucci

    Very helpful, Kristin. Just when I think I get this stuff, I realize I've been doing it all wrong - or not very intuitively. Really enjoying my affiliation with SheWrites.

  • Extremely helpful, Kristin!  I always ignored the tags in favor of Yoast, but now will go into my blog posts for the last year and add tags!

  • Lisa Thomson

    Thanks, Kristen! I used to get confused between categories and tags, still do. Your article has clarified the purpose of the TAG. I love the tag cloud on the sidebar to help readers click into any topic they so choose. Good to know how to tag here at SW although it's been a long while since I've blogged here.

  • Kathykate Mayer

    many thanks for helping make sense of the science!

  • Just what I needed - thanks!

  • Claudia H Long

    Thanks! (these little mysteries...)

  • Mardith Louisell

    Terrific, Kristin. So helpful and precise, as you no doubt would like our tags to be!

  • Michelle Cox

    Good advice, Kristin!  Thanks!