Tag, you’re it

On websites, you might have seen a list of topics circled at the end of an article.

Those topics are ‘tags’. They are used to alert users to related content – if you click on a tag, you will see a list of articles that have the same tags.

If you are writing a website, there are some tips and tricks to using tags that will make sure they are as helpful as possible for your audience.


Tags should:

  • be short, preferably just 1 or 2 words
  • be simple, so that people have a good idea of what they will get when they click
  • be general enough to ensure that a few articles will be against each
  • be specific enough to ensure that you don’t have a long list of articles against a single tag.


Making a tag list and tagging content is an iterative process.

You first need to make a draft tag list, and go through and tag content, using as many tags as needed.

Then go through and count how many times each tag is used, and how many tags are against each article. That information helps you to decide whether the tags are right. For example, if you have a lot of articles against a tag, it may be too general. Can you split into 2 or more tags instead? If you have only 1 or 2 articles against a tag, it may be too specific. Can it be made broader or can other articles be tagged the same?

The other thing to check is whether the user who clicks on the tag sees what you want them to see. The idea of tagging is not just to tag everything that might be related, but to encourage people to find everything that might be useful and related to a particular topic. So it’s a good cross-check to search for each tag and make sure it leads the user to relevant and useful content.

You will need to adjust your draft tags and repeat the process until you are happy with the list and with what each tag finds.