Are Keywords the Same as Tags?

Keywords and tags sound like they’re the same thing with SEO, don’t they?

You can’t be faulted for thinking as much.

But in a strict SEO sense, keywords and tags are different.  Very different.

That said, tags can be keywords and keywords tags but it’s not necessary.

Table of Contents

What’s the difference between keywords and tags?

Let’s break down the differences.

Keywords

Keywords are words and phrases people search in Google.

In fact, the title of this article is a keyword.  According to Ahrefs, it’s searched 0 to 10 times per month.  Definitely, not a big keyword but the fact it’s actually searched by someone makes it a keyword.

There are billions and perhaps even trillions of keywords.

Every search ever done is a keyword.

Do keywords help with SEO?

Yes. IMO they are the foundation of SEO.

If you do good keyword research, assuming you publish great content, that’s what will set you up for ranking your content.

My practice is to seek out easy-to-rank keywords like “are keywords the same as tags?“.

When I go after the right keywords within my strategy, I rank content all day long without link building.

If you go after keywords that are competitive, you either need to have a site with huge authority and/or do some link building.

If you go after keywords that really aren’t keywords (nobody searches with those terms ever), you will get no traffic because nobody cares.

It all starts with good keyword research.  If you get that right, you’ve set the stage for free search traffic.

Tags

Tags, on the other hand, are a taxonomy to help with website structure and organization.

I build my sites with WordPress which by default offers both categories and tags as taxonomies.

Tags are the subordinate taxonomy.  In other words, categories are broad while tags can be very, very specific.

Here’s a screenshot of some tags on Fatstacksblog.com:

Creating tags in WordPress

Do WordPress tags help with SEO?

Yes and no.

I don’t believe that tagging content will help rank that content for the tagged terms in Google.

However, I believe that creating better navigation on your site to help Google crawl your site and visitors to navigate your site is very good for SEO.

TIP: I usually index my tag archive pages to help Google crawl through content.  Many SEOs suggest you noindex tag archive pages.  This is good advice if you haphazardly create hundreds of tags but if you’re deliberate and methodical, indexing tag archive pages is totally fine (a good thing IMO).

I’m a huge user of tags.

But I don’t just create tags willy nilly.  I’m very deliberate in the tags I choose.

Usually, I use tags as a way to tie a content series together.

For example.  Suppose I published a website about automobiles and had a category on minivans.

I would create a tag for “hybrid”.  I would apply the hybrid tag to all minivans as well as other hybrid vehicles.

Read my article about tagging content here for more info.

What about YouTube tags… are they keywords?

Again, no they are not.   You can create or input tags that are keywords but they are not necessarily the keyword you are targeting.

For example, if ever I made a video for this article, I would NOT use “Are Keywords the Same as Tags?” as a YouTube tag. Instead, the tags would be “keyword Research”, “SEO”, “Tagging” and “Keywords”.

At the end of the day, tags help categorize while keywords are the targeted topics people are looking for.

There is definite overlap but they are not the same thing.

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