SEN Forum Pick: Should you publish WP posts with tags? Do tags have positive or negative SEO value?
 by Joshua Fricke

SEN Forum Top Pick: Should you publish WP posts with tags? Do tags have positive or negative SEO value?

This is a question for anyone in the forum with insight on the SEO role of tags, categories, and other byproducts of WordPress blog publishing.

With another Google Panda "data refresh" due any minute now (as of 14 June) I'm into last minute housecleaning on the site, to minimize the risk of presenting thin content, excessive duplicate content, or doorway pages.

The concern is with all of the URLs that WordPress spins out with each blog post. What I understand is that a post is available via its own permalink, of course, but WP can also generate for that post multiple "tag pages" a "category page," a "date page, " subpages, author pages, archive pages, and maybe more.

  • These are all different URLs but essentially the same content as the blog post itself, or else an extract from the post.
  • The canonical for each of the extra pages cannot be set to the post page (at least by any means I know of). They all specify themselves as their own canonicals.
  • Before I discovered how to "noindex" them, the tag, category, and author page urls were showing up as separate entries in automatically generated XML sitemaps and ROR sitemaps. From there, they made it into the Google index: Searching for site keyword phrases, Google sometimes delivered the tag page or author page, for instance, instead of the "real" post page. A lot of site visitors came to the site via those links. The traffic was welcome, but I suspect it came at the cost of watering down the authority of the post itself.
  • Fortunately, discussion elsewhere in this Forum put me onto the "noindex" capability available through the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.

In the blog now, only the post pages leave with an "index,follow" tag in the header. I've used Yoast SEO to set the others to "noindex." Now the others no longer turn up in XML sitemaps, and, i'm using Search Console "Remove Url" to clean out those that remain in the Google index.

Briefly, because all these extra pages were not canonicalized to the post, but each to itself instead, I suspect that the site's Google index presence was littered with what looks like thin content, duplicate content, and doorway pages, all of which I understand are Panda targets. Whic...