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I recently removed 1750 tags from my company's blog. Many of them were irrelevant or synonyms created by someone who didn't know how to use tags, some were even misspellings. I removed 1730 of them, removing them from the tag section in Wordpress, as well as from the actual article in the QuickEdit section.

I was under the impression this would add to SEO efforts, as many articles detail that, such as this one from Yoast. However, rankings for the keyword "recruitment software" dropped from #17 to #30. Other more niched keywords lost rankings for the homepage altogether, and a blog post appeared there instead (albeit a few ranking spots lower).

I'm worried that removing all those tags have produced 404 errors which have caused the nose-dive in rankings :/, should 301 redirects be created for each lost tag webpage? In the Wordpress backend, Yoast was suggesting I do that with their app's premium version as I was deleting. Any ideas would be much appreciated, as you can imagine the fright and dread I got from losing rankings like that overnight.

FYI, it has been a week since the fall in rankings, fluctuations seem to have slowed.

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Even though the tags themselves were crummy, they still served the function of creating connections between pages on your website, i.e. they created a web of interlinks. By removing them all at once, I think maybe you communicated to Google that some sort of minor catastrophe happened.

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  • Thanks for your answer. After 1.5 weeks my Google rankings tanked quite badly and my homepage doesn't appear for one of my niche target keywords, when it was previously #4, instead there is a blog article of mine at #10. I believe I did not redirect tag pages correctly and this caused the drop in rankings and large rise in my angst. Still it's obvious Google thought of them as having value. Even though it was effectively spamming. I checked the tag page values on analytics and found no traffic going to them, nor were there incoming links to them. – SEO777 Sep 25 '20 at 6:33
  • Totally understandable. It sounds like the site is recovering though, which is good. How about you rebuild some of the tags and use a better system of conventions? – I Capulet Sep 25 '20 at 15:05

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