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For some time now, I have been reading a lot about the notion that Tag pages should not be indexed in search engines. In fact, I have barely come across any articles which say otherwise. I am not sure if I am overlooking something here, or whether people are just regurgitating misinformation across the web.

Firstly, I understand that search engines do not want duplicate content. Secondly, I understand that Tags are capable of producing duplicate content. Thus, on the surface, I get the notion behind the majority; in that, Tags are known for its duplicate content.

Here is the bit that I am failing to see. Why aren't many people acknowledging the fact that you can create multiple Tag templates, ensuring that every Tag page is unique.

Lets take an eCommerce Shop as an example. The eCommerce shop has the following Category structures:

Category A: Paintings > Jungle > Monkeys > [Monkey Painting Product]

Category B: Drawings > Jungle > Monkeys > [Monkey Drawing Product]

Category C: Curtains > Jungle > Monkeys > [Monkey Curtains Product]

Category A could be optimised for Keywords, which are specifically targeting Paintings of Monkeys. As for Category B, we could focus our efforts targeting Keywords for Drawings of Monkeys. Finally, Category C could target Keywords seeking Curtains with Monkeys on.

So far, pretty straightforward.

Now, what if there are search queries looking for 'Monkey Art'. The search query does not indicate; what kind of art, genre, fabric, style etc. Simply put, it is a broad term. Too broad either of the above Categories.

For me, this is where Tags could come into play. A few simple Tag URLs, could be:

www.example.com/product-tags/monkey-art/

www.example.com/product-tags/monkey-designs/

www.example.com/product-tags/monkey-themes/

Let's take the first Tag: 'Monkey Art'. The 'Monkey Art' Product Tag page, will be made up of Products, it has pulled from across the 3 Categories; mentioned above.

That, in itself, is relatively unique. Personally, I would say it is not unique enough. Simply because although the page as a whole would be uniquely structured, with a different layout, it is still made up of duplicate content.

Up until now, I agree with those saying that Tag pages should not be Indexed in search engines.

To those who stop there, I feel they are missing out on ranking opportunities. Let's create a scenario:

We have a parent looking to theme their Kid's bedroom with Monkeys. Monkey Curtains, Monkey Paintings and Monkey Drawings. As such, they perform the search query 'Monkey Art'. Wouldn't the Product Tag page 'Monkey Art' be a great landing page?

Of course, I wouldn't stop there. I would then create a series of custom Product Tag Templates, which would be specific to each Tag and be unique from the Categories. Take the following examples:

Category A: Paintings > Jungle > Monkeys > [Monkey Painting Product]:

Title: Monkey Paintings

Description: If you are looking for Monkey Paintings, check out our range below.

Category B: Drawings > Jungle > Monkeys > [Monkey Drawing Product]:

Title: Monkey Hand Made Drawings

Description: Do you like drawings of Monkeys? We have a wide selection of realistic and abstract pictures, created by our own Artist.

www.example.com/product-tags/monkey-designs/:

Title: Complete Range of Monkey Designs

Description: Are you looking to redesign your bedroom? Maybe fancy a Jungle Theme? Check out all of our Monkey themed products below.

Of course, the above is overly simplistic and the Title & Description details could be better but it does give an idea of how I see Categories and Tags.

With so many people overlooking the fact that you can create multiple Tag Template pages, tailored to each Tag, I feel I may be overlooking something. Then again, maybe not.

Have I got it right so to speak, or have I overlooked something greatly here?

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It's too general to just say that tag pages shouldn't be indexed. I think when people say that they assume that the tag pages are very low content with just a few links on them.

If a tag page has great content then it's worth being indexed by Google.

Even if a tag page dosent have that much great content then you can let Google decide if it wants to index it or not. Sometimes a low content page might be very valuable to someone with a specifc search that has very low competition.

You can choose to set your tag links to nofollow if you think the content isn't very useful to Google. I'm a firm believer that it's wise to save Googlebot as much crawl allocation as you can as Google can only crawl so many pages on the web that its servers permit. Googlebot may love you if you take this into consideration. It doesn't have time to crawl content that isn't fruitful.

The only downside that I can think of to indexing low content tag pages is that if Google sends those pages traffic and the bounce rate is super high, Google may take this as a signal that your whole site has weak content. That's because your domain's bounce rate would go up as a result.

Generally, if I know that a page of mine has weak content then I'm trying to preserve the crawl resources for Google.

But if you look at twitter for example, Google crawls its hash tags all day because those tag pages are high content.

So ultimately a good rule of thumb to go by is if your page has high quality content then try to have it indexed. If it has low quality content then save yourself, Googlebot, and everyone else the time. Whether the page is technically a tag or not is more semantics than anything. Quality is what is important.

  • Thanks for your answer. Pretty much consolidates what I was originally thinking. I have yet to come across any 'SEO Top Tips' articles, which acknowledge the full possibilities with Tag pages. They seem to simply generalise Tag pages, advising to noindex all Tag pages. Maybe they are simply trying to appeal to the mass audience, with the average user not familiar with Tag Templates etc. – Craig Apr 5 '18 at 21:45
  • BTW- In 2015 Google stated it's confidence in having largely indexed the entire web and can re-crawl the entire web within 10 months. This was the Genesis of moving panda real-time. – closetnoc Apr 6 '18 at 1:33
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If you do the work to customize a tag page with enough custom content, then by all means let Google index them. However on most sites (including this one, or sites built with stock WordPress), tag pages are not great for SEO.

Tag pages are too similar to search results

Tag pages are usually just lists of links and descriptions. They visually appear similar to search results. Google doesn't want to index pages look like search results. They have found that it is bad user experience for users to go from the Google search results to another list of links. See: Search results in search results - Matt Cutts

Tag pages are duplicate content

Tag pages usually consist of nothing but snippets from other pages. Google chooses not to index pages where all the content can be found elsewhere. See What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site?

Many tag pages are thin

Sometimes pages get tagged with fairly unique tags that are used infrequently on your site. Those tag pages will be very thin content. This can reflect poorly on your site as a whole and could lead to penalties under Google's Panda algorithm.

  • Referring to the example, in my question, wouldn't it be useful for the Product Tags to be indexed? Not only would they provide another way for users to browse Products but also allow for the targeting of additional niche Keywords. – Craig Apr 6 '18 at 14:21
  • If you can make the landing pages rich enough, then go for it. The problem is that tag pages are usually too poor to rank well for anything. – Stephen Ostermiller Apr 6 '18 at 17:44

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