Half the internet runs on WordPress. So the common issues that arise with having a WordPress site are pretty widespread.
WordPress was originally designed to be a blogging platform so content management follows an opinionated structure of single posts plus automatically generated archive. You create posts and add categories or tags and automatically, time-based, category based, and tag-based archives are generated.
Depending on your theme developer and/or website developers’ SEO savvy (or just attention to detail), your templating code and site configurations signal to search engines how these pages should be treated.
Should your best post of all time be treated the same as an automatically generated archive page that brings no value to the user? Of course not, right?
Should your tags suck the SEO life out of the posts you tagged? Naz. But with how WordPress, theme developers, and your website dev typically generate pages dynamically, this is often exactly what happens.
The blog post you create gets three categories and being clever, you add another 10 tags: often phrases that even if you ranked for would do nothing for your traffic or conversions.
From an internal linking standpoint, you want more links to the post and less links leaving the post. It’s more complicated than that, but the overall effect is hoarding link value.
You’re telling PageRank type algorithms and users, “hey, this content is important so I’m making it easy to find.”
But by checking off three categories and creating 10 new tags, you’ve just added 13 links from that post to pages that don’t matter.
That’s 13 little PageRank leaks into automatically created category and tag archives. These basic archive pages will never outrank highly curated well thought out pages by others on your key topics. And the afterthought tags that generated thin pages with links back to your post will be unlikely to rank or drive real traffic for you. And if they do, you end up squandering that traffic by landing them on those thin pages.
Now multiply that effect by the number of posts you have and the vast majority of pages on your site are now pretty low value.
We had a client ranking a tag page for “street art.” Lots of traffic, lots of bouncing. After de-indexing tags, they started ranking a post, “What is Street Art? Vandalism, graffiti or public art – Part I.” Much better!
Fixes can be pretty simple.
Don’t willy nilly use tags. De-index low value taxonomies. Remove links to tag pages from your single post templating. If you do use them, have a plan of action and sculpt the layout and flow of your site. Users will appreciate it and search engines will “get” it.
Fixes can also be pretty advanced. If your site has been like this for a while, you probably want to look at inbound links, traffic flow, and cost-benefit de-indexing, consolidating, redirecting, or leaving as-is.
Whatever you do, make a note to dig through Google Analytics in a month or two to look for traffic changes on the posts of interest.