A Case of a Wp Multisite | Has Tens of Thousands of Tags | Publishes 500-1000 Articles a Week

Kovacs
WordPress Tag Pages question
I have a very large WP MultiSite set up that publishes 500-1000 articles a week. Over the years, we have created tens of thousands of tags without realizing the implication.
I am going to assume that the first thing I need to do to start fixing this is to NoIndex all tags using Yoast plugin. CORRECT? Further, is there a situation when I should KEEP them indexed? I mean, 30,000 tag pages seems insane and I can't see how keeping them indexed is smart but perhaps someone knows better.
Thanks!
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[filtered from 6 Answers]

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Martinez
"I am going to assume that the first thing I need to do to start fixing this is to NoIndex all tags using Yoast plugin. "
What, exactly, is BROKEN?
If you noindex all those tag pages, you'll be changing the crawl footprint of the network in a radical way. You may not like what happens next.
"Further, is there a situation when I should KEEP them indexed?"
If people visit the pages and click through to the articles, yes.
If the articles the tag pages link to don't have many inbound links and the crawlers are fetching these resources, yes.

Kovacs
I have a less than ideal crawl budget as well as many instances of reported canibalization and duplicate title tags as reported in SEMrush audit.
As I said, there are probably 30-40,000 tags network wide. Of those, there are maybe 4-500 that we use regularly. For those, of course I'd keep them indexed. I'm meaning the thousands that have 0-2 count on them.
Martinez » Kovacs
"I have a less than ideal crawl budget as well as many instances of reported canibalization and duplicate title tags as reported in SEMrush audit."
Take their analysis with a bag of salt.
You don't have a crawl budget. The search engines have crawl budgets. And you can't manage their crawl budgets for them.
Now, duplicate title tags are a problem. They affect indexing, canonicalization, and ability to rank but they have no effect on crawl and crawl budget.
"…there are probably 30-40,000 tags network wide."
And that's perfectly fine. They're just URLs to the search engines.
" there are maybe 4-500 that we use regularly. For those, of course I'd keep them indexed. I'm meaning the thousands that have 0-2 count on them."
Now we have a much more clear idea of what you're talking about. I agree they're not very helpful.
However, if you simply delete or noindex those tags, the search engines will continue to try to fetch them – possibly for years to come – and they won't do anything to help your site.
If it's feasible, it would be better to redirect them to other (similar) tags. If that is feasible, I would do it first before detagging the pages that reference them – provided THAT is feasible.
Given the scale of your issue, it may be a better use of your time to just delete the tags and then maybe – later on – redirect them as they appear in the search engines' 404 reports.
Kovacs » Martinez
Thanks so much for this. Honestly, it's a daunting task.
Each department (NFL, EPL, NHL, etc. Abbreviations in football) will have about 100 tags that we are targeting and building for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes. All the rest, as I understand from your posts and others here, aren't going to hurt necessarily, but would be better served to be "merged" or removed, then redirected.
There is a plugin that professes to do this that has good reviews — have you heard of TaxoPress?
Martinez » Kovacs
Never heard of it. Sorry.
Kovacs » Martinez
Np. I think it's pretty new.
If I have a tag and category that are identical and they both have similar article count, the category would be favourable in most cases, yes?
Like /tag/nfl
/category/nfl
I'd want to noindex one of them to avoid duplicate title, yes?
Martinez » Kovacs
You want to avoid using "noindex" as much as possible.
It's okay to have 2 duplicate titles. It's a problem if you have hundreds or thousands of URLs all with the same title.
Normally, tags and categories are distinguishable from each other by an intermediary slug:
/category/cool-word/
/tag/cool-word/
So these two URLs are distinct even if they both have the same title.
The default behavior in WordPress is that you assign Posts to categories and tags to Posts. It's kind of a reciprocal logic.
I generally recommend to people that if they use both categories and tags, then they'll avoid confusion if they only use categories for topics and tags for searching by a single word or phrase.
I should add that you also have the option of editing existing categories and tags, where you change their slugs or titles or descriptions. You can leave the slugs as is and just change the titles.
Kovacs » Martinez
I think that would be a good option for sure. Thanks so much.
Gillispie » Kovacs
Despite what some idiots at search engine journal might think, noindex pages still get crawled…which is how the noindex tag gets discovered. So it would have zero effect on any crawl budget.
I would consider merging and 301ing many of the tag pages together into the 400-500 you use where it makes sense (and possibly changing all of the posts to reflect that)
I personally make use of lots of tags, but they are highly controlled and any new ones have to be approved.
Each post is limited to belonging to four tag groups and less is better.
I also do a few other things with them that's semi secret sauce.
Kovacs » Gillispie
Any good plugin to make that happen?
Thanks so much for that, Michael. I will start with ones that are so similar. Like, we have NHL Top Prospects and NHL Prospects — no idea why. Thanks!
Let's say I had a tag called "Pittsburgh Steelers" and a category "Pittsburgh Steelers". Obviously I don't want to have both indexed seeing that their slug is the same and the title is the same. I'd love to create a rule — either categorize or tag team names so they aren't competing.
Thoughts?
Gillispie » Kovacs
Definitely. 301 all of the smaller tag pages into the main tag page and get rid of it. Also, it would really be better to go through and move all of those posts to remaining tag so you don't have have a 301 link chain (I'm assuming you show tag links on the post), but that it somewhat optional and it might have to remain as is due to the number of pages you have. No plugins that I'm aware of.
Kovacs » Gillispie
That sounds like months of work, unless i'm missing something? Like, I wonder if there is a bulk editor or something?
Here's an example of what I mean:
https://lastwordonsports.com/football/tag/manchester-united/
https://lastwordonsports.com/football/category/premier-league/manchester-united/
Manchester United Fixtures, News, Rumours, Results l Last Word On Football
Gillispie
It would be. And I thought you had two tag pages that were close to the same. Might recommendations still hold though. Pick a category or tag and the primary and 301 stuff to it – depending on you organizational scheme.
Kovacs » Gillispie
I think I need to hire someone to help me sort it so I don't kill it all. I mean, we get decent enough traffic, but not even close to what it should be.
Gillispie
Oh lord Jesus. Looks like a food/mommy blogger circa 2010 had field day. Surprised there isn't a blog roll in the sidebar lol. It's a hot assed mess. I don't have any suggestions other than looking at your tag and category pages and grinding through it. Luckily categories aren't in your post URLs (although dates are which kinda suck…but not much of your stuff is evergreen so it probably doesn't matter). With no categories clogging up your URLs, you are (easily) free to move shit around and completely redo everything however you'd like.
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a case of a wp multisite has tens of thousands of tags publishes 500-1000 articles a week
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Kovacs
I think I might need to at least hire someone to walk me through fixing. What I have is absolutely massive but, as you say, there is a hot mess to sort.
Gillispie » Kovacs
Yes. COMPETENT help is always good. I pay up for COMPETENT help. I wouldn't offshore that shit to a $3 an hour VA.
And finding competent help is harder than it sounds. People are generally stupid by nature.
Kovacs » Gillispie
Guilty as charged. lol. Though I at least don't profess to know — just a rook in the game.
Gillispie
And yes, I'd fix it. You're leaking link juice all over nonrelevant, thin pages. Bit of semi-secret sauce…tag and category pages should be treated like any other landing page/post. They need some amount of original content and to be treated like they can rank (cause they sometimes do. When done right, they function as hub page.
Kovacs » Gillispie
I do have someone who is willing but at $10,000 quote to fully audit everything and gameplan the entire fix.
How do you add content to a tag page? Is it not just pulling links as in my tag page?
Gillispie
I dunno what cms you are using but in WordPress, you can add content somewhat by editing the actual tag page. Whether your theme displays this is another question. Some page builders allow this too.
Other work around including coding WordPress to dispay an actual page or 301ing that page to a regular page.
Kovacs » Gillispie
I can add text… we have a custom theme but I do have WP Bakery (changing to Elementor… but we don't really use drag/drop anymore)
Gillispie
Same, same for categories. I wouldn't go crazy on some of them…a short paragraph or two at the top would do it. Maybe even just a couple of sentences. Depending the layout. User Experience (UX) always trumps IMHO.
Make sure your meta titles and descriptions aren't stock "archive" bullshit.
Kovacs
They're not… well, not now. They were at one time though. We actually rank for tags. Man, if you could see the content we actually have… we're an SEO users wet dream.
I think what I need from an SEO is to know the steps to fix this stuff. What to do first, then what, etc.
Solving the issue of site structure is the most important, and then I can get to work to fix everything. I am just nervous to, say, turn off indexing tags and then ruin something big, ya know?
We also recently had a web dev write code to prevent contributors from making new tags. Probably should have done that a loooong ass time ago.
Gillispie
Elementor has that function. Lot's of div tag though. Pick your poison.
I only use page builders for the homepage and few categories and I make sure to turn it's java and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) off for other pages (there are several different plugins for this). GeneratePpress has some exciting page builder shit in alpha testing that will be of benefit for me as that's what I use. Currently have Elementor installed, but like I said, mostly turned off.
Kovacs
Yeah, we don't really use it. We are going to on our main page only because we have some Rich Site Summary (RSS) to add.
I'll just look through UpWork and see who has good reviews — otherwise, I'm just guessing who to listen to, ya know? As you say, there are so many who get SEMrush and think they can give advice by just reading what it tells them to tell a client.
I think I have that structure… it's what to do with the thousands of tags and tons of categories that are irrelevant or are not hierarchical…
Gillispie » Kovacs
Yep…most of that shit needs to go away…think of on page SEO like a self enclosed biodome that occasionally gets water supplies (new external links/authority/relevancy). You have a supply of water (existing external links/authority/relevancy).
That supply of water gets pumped to various parts of the biodome (pages on your site). Contextual internal linking are the water mains. Your link juice flows through them…it slowly looses pressure due to parasitic drag (in this case…it's actually Google allowing only part of that authority to transfer).
When all of those pipes hit a particular page…that water/link juice passes through it (and boosting it) out to every other page that is linked. Contextual links have more volume and velocity. But some is passing though the capillary pipes (menu links, tag and category links, etc) too…to tag and category pages…which in some cases makes them very, very strong since they usually have a bunch of internal links even though each incoming pipe is a bit smaller…but there are a bunch of them. This basically forms another water/link juice reservoir and is equivalent to an auxiliary pump at a substation.
But when your pages have too many links on them going to too many places, you start to loose water pressure.
That analogy makes sense? BTW, I'll probably delete my replies in an hour or two. It's not secret sauce, but it's close enough.
Kovacs » Gillispie
It actually does. lol. I appreciate that.
Gillispie
First step would be identifying the site structure you want that makes sense. Big picture is categories. Smaller picture might be subcategories (depending on site and organization). Tags are usually more specific.
That's the very first thing. And then the grind.
https://lastwordonsports.com/football/tag/julian-nagelsmann/
Page like that…I'd get rid of "Tag" in the H1. Make it "Julian Naglesman"
Two sentence intro, "Find out all of the news about Julian Naglesman down below. We bring you the latest reports on your favorite footballer."
Something similar (but different) for the meta description.
Meta title something like "Julian Naglesman News and Reports | Last Word on Sports"
Julian Nagelsmann – Last Word on Football
LASTWORDONSPORTS.COM
Julian Nagelsmann – Last Word on Football
Julian Nagelsmann – Last Word on Football
Kovacs » Gillispie
Lol, sounds good.
I do appreciate this. I usually offer anyone who goes out of their way to help me figure stuff like this out, a donation to a charity of their choice just as a "thanks". I'm sure you aren't interested, but if it struck your fancy and you'd be up for perhaps a more step by step, I'd certainly apply this here and make a donation to a charity of your choice.
Gillispie » Kovacs
Maybe hit me up in a month or two…I'm ass deep in in the middle of reconfiguring both my accounting books and portions of my sites and trying to get my passport renewed so I can get back to Korea before mid April (my Permanent visa expires due to my old passport expiring…it's a clusterf*ck) and doing fencing and other shit around my parents' house in the states.
Oh…and taxes.
Kovacs » Gillispie
Fun times. I don't suppose you know of a plugin that can restrict contributors from adding new tags?
Gillispie » Kovacs
One of the user permission plugins can probably do it.

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