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Should I NOINDEX My Tag Archives?

Posted on the 08 August 2012 by Dfennell @BloggerGo

NOINDEX Meta Tag imageDetermining whether or not I should use the NOINDEX meta tag for my tags and tag archives was a question that I toyed around with for months when I first began my blogging career.  Like other novice bloggers, I was under the impression that the more pages that you have indexed in the search engines, the better.  In other words, I figured the more irons that I had in the fire, the greater my potential for generating traffic.  Boy was I wrong.

Today, I am a firm believer that if a blog uses tags, they should use the NOINDEX meta tag to block the search engines from indexing a blog’s tag archives.  Let me explain! 

WordPress has an inherent problem of duplicating content across several pages of a blog.  Every time a post is published in WordPress, a post excerpt is displayed on the home page, category archives, and tag archives.  For example, if a post is published in two categories and contains 5 tags, the post excerpt is being duplicated in 8 locations:

  • Home Page
  • 2 Category Archives
  • 5 Tag Archives

By using the NOINDEX meta tag, you have just eliminated 5 locations of duplicate content to be penalized by the search engines, especially Google.

Additionally, you need to ask yourself an important question: 

Do you really want less meaningful pages to rank above your actual content for keywords you are attempting to rank for?

Let’s say for example that you have invested a few hours into conducting research and writing a blog post.  Do you really want a visitor to first land on a page that displays just a few words of your beautifully crafted masterpiece?  Because chances are, a new visitor is not going to make that extra click to navigate from a tag archive to a blog post.  By then, your visitor has lost interest and moved onto the next site that more easily supplied the information they were looking for to begin with.  Every visit is a first impression and a chance to put your best foot forward to earn another loyal reader.  Your tag archive is certainly not your best impression.

Has your blog been around awhile?

For blogs that are well-established, the decision to NOINDEX tag archives is more difficult.  If your blog has been around for some time now, you more than likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of tags indexed in the search engines.  By looking at your Google Analytics account, you can determine if these tag archives are driving a considerable amount of traffic.  Using NOINDEX and removing these archives from the indexes can be a hard pill to swallow.  But remember, blogging is a long-term venture.  Certainly if you NOINDEX your tag archives today, you will experience a short-term drop in traffic.  But this will also give your posts (your quality content) that have not ranked well in the past a chance to shine through.  Additionally, this is your opportunity to build a better blog for the future.  If you can not handle this short-term drop in traffic, then you might consider leaving your tag archives indexed.

On the other hand, if you are starting a brand new blog from scratch, the decision to use NOINDEX is simple.  Just start doing it.  It is much more beneficial to do things correctly in the beginning than to wait until later down the road to correct serious problems.

One Caveat to using NOINDEX

Many older blogs use tags as their primary navigation structure to assist visitors in locating relevant content.  For blogs that use tags exclusively as their category structure, they might think about allowing the search engines to index these archives.

But only if you are using tags correctly.  Too many bloggers make the mistake of not recycling or reusing tags for multiple posts.  You want to build your archives over time.  If Google is indexing too many tag archives that only contain one blog post, your blog will get slapped and slapped hard.  If you are not using NOINDEX for your tag archives, it is important to build those archives over time by reusing tags. 

However, if your blog uses both WordPress categories and tags, there is no sense in indexing both archives.  I will stress this again; if you use both tags and categories on your blog, NOINDEX your tag archives.

The choice is yours…

We are not going to be arrogant and pretend that we know everything about your blog and how it is structured.  Depending on your blog, indexing your tags might make sense.  But for the majority of blogs out there, using NOINDEX for tag archives is a good idea.

Your Turn:  Are you indexing or using NOINDEX?

We would love to hear from you!  Are you allowing the search engines to index your tag archives or are you using the NOINDEX tag?  Please share!

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