Spamdexing: Are you Shooting Yourself in the Foot?

Turns out I am guilty of spamdexing and didn’t know it.

Here is what famous WordPress.com maven Timethief writes about the subject:

The most common mistake new bloggers make is spamdexing ie. assigning an excessive combined number of categories and tags to any post. Keep the combined total of the two under 10. ~ Timethief

Spamdexing I am guilty of. Tag spamming I am not. I suppose some of my habits are antiquated from 15 years ago when I created websites using Microsoft Frontpage.  Back then meta tagging had a huge impact on website traffic. I can think of several WordPress.org sites I’ve contributed to over the years who are unknowingly guilty of spamdexing too.

My lesson for the day is to keep combined categories and tags to 15 or less for each post. Timethief recommends 5 to 10. And when Timethief speaks, I listen.

Here are some questions that come to mind in light of today’s aha moment:

Are tags and categories case sensitive? Back 15 years ago I was taught, perhaps incorrectly, to enter meta tags in all lower case. But I was stubborn and would enter multiple tags based on capitalization. For example: “Smooth Reentry”,  “Smooth ReEentry”, and “smooth reentry” would all be tags I would use if I was creating a page about this site. Has this been an exercise in futility all these years? Should I have better listened to my mentor who said use all lower case?

What about commas? If I was publishing a post about the Smooth Reentry blog, how should I tag the post;”Smooth Reentry” or “Smooth, Reentry”? How do commas effect tags? Should a phrase be entered as one tag or separated with commas?

What about plural tags?  e.g. If I am writing a post about unicorns, should the tag be “unicorn”, “unicorns”, or both?

With categories, how general is too general and how specific is too specific? Finding the sweet spot here is hard! I’m struggling to think through a new game plan! Using subcategories, we have the ability to fine tune our posts and make it easy for our audience to locate similar posts. However, when I peruse the Topics Explorer, it seems more general topics appear. Is it best to have a broad category of “relationships” so that posts are lumped in with thousands of other readers?  Or should I keep very specific yet quirky categories unique to my blog? For example, I’m thinking the “Men are Pigs”, “Women are Bitches”, “Eye Candy for Men” and “Eye Candy for Women” categories on my blog should all be deleted in light of this new information about 15 tags or less. 

Will Editing Existing Posts Help? In light of this new information about 15 tags of less, will it help to edit my already published posts that are guilty of spamdexing? It seems like editing now will only have marginal benefits since they have already been crawled, and the published date stamp will not change.

If you are reading this, you are probably a fellow blogger and I will appreciate any insights you might have on the subject of categories and tag. Much of the information I’ve found is conflicting, and I’m not sure whose advice to follow. I want to hear the personal experiences, both good and bad, of regular ole bloggers.

Normally I limit myself to one post per day, but I thought I would post this ASAP, as I suspect some Smooth Reentry readers are unknowingly shooting themselves in the foot through spamdexing, just as I have been doing for MONTHS!

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