Most people who use tags do not use them properly. They use them as a box to punch in a whole slew of keywords and assume that’ll juice up the post in terms of SEO. Do not do that.
Tags should be used first and foremost as a form of organization and, if that’s done well, they can have a positive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefit.
The way to look at it is simple. Your categories (‘Topics” on the front-end) are the chapters of the book that is your blog. Usually, you only need 5-10 categories for your blog. The tags are the index of items throughout those chapters that connect ideas throughout the book that is your blog. Meaning, you only want to use a tag if you’re going to use it multiple times. Oftentimes the best tags are people, places or things. In law, tags can also be cases.
Say, for example, you plan to write several posts on Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 of the Pennsylvania Adult Guardianship proceedings, but the topic is not foundational enough that it qualifies as its own category. Still, it’d be nice to have a page where you could quickly find the three, four or even 12 posts where you wrote on the subject. You can create a ‘Mental Hygiene Law Article 81’ tag which automatically creates a page on your site with all the posts dedicated to that tag.
If done right, Google will index your content the same way. When someone tasks Google with finding information on ‘Mental Hygiene Law Article 81,’ the search engine thinks “Where can I find a page that is rich with content on that?“. They come up with the answer, “Here’s a page with a series of posts on the subject that could be a great resource.” This results in better search engine results over time.
However, if you’re sloppy with your tags and tag every post ‘Mental Hygiene Law Article 81,’ you now have pages with content all over the place. Google will recognize the varying content and filter your SEO accordingly. As an example, say you’re punching a whole slew of random words in the tag box, you’re creating a bunch of different new pages for each one and Google is actually thinking “This is a mess.”. Your site will begin to lose ranking overall.
So, if you want to use tags, focus on organization first and foremost. In doing so, you can create an organized library of content to draw on—and, even if it wasn’t the most ideal organization, Google will still recognize the attempt.