A lot of people are asking how tags are important for someone who is doing a podcast, or, indeed, if tags are important at all. Tom Hazzard jumps in for a quick client coaching call to discuss how tags came to be and how their role has changed as the internet changed. Join in and find out if tags are still relevant for podcasts, blog posts, and videocasts on YouTube. You might be surprised by the answer, and perhaps even more so by the exception to the rule. Tune in for more!
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Podcast Tags: Are They Still Relevant?
I want to talk about a subject I’ve been getting a lot of questions about, especially when it comes to SEO-related questions. I’m not going to talk about SEO per se. We’ve talked about that in an episode. I want to talk about tags. I hear from people all the time, “There are podcast tags, video tags, blog tags.” “What are all these tags? Should I care about them? Are they important?”
Tags In Internet History
I’m going to give you a little bit of history into where tags came from, and then give you my informed opinion if they’re important or not or, more likely, where they’re important and where they’re not. In the early days of the internet, I might call it Internet 1.0, those of you that were in eCommerce the way I was in the late ‘90s and early 2000s might remember those.
In those days, it was pre-Google. Google came to be around that time shortly thereafter. When I would go search for something, I would use a completely different search engine and it was called Alta Vista. I don’t know if anybody remembers that. Alta Vista was bought by Digital Equipment Corporation. It was very different. Internet searching was very different back then than it is now. It’s what gave birth to all these different consultants and agencies to manage your SEO.
Back then, it was much more important to have somebody manage it who absolutely knew the tricks of the trade and how to hack the system, and configure your website so it would come up in a search for different words or phrases that people would type. Back then, the words that you came up for didn’t even need to exist on your website or on the public page. They could just be in the code on the back end of it. The internet has matured. The World Wide Web, which is the modern internet, has matured a ton. We’re definitely on Internet 2.0 at least, if not, starting to breach into 3.0 or 4.0.If you're paying somebody hundreds of dollars a month on some SEO expert who is going to make sure you continue to come up for certain keywords at the top of the first page of Google search, you're likely wasting your money or certainly spending more… Click To Tweet
Things have changed quite a bit but in the very early days, tags were a big thing. Tags are what software that ran search engines used to say, “Is this article, video or podcast important?” It would instead of having to do the hard work of analyzing a blog post or the text on the main web page of your website and saying, “What words or phrases are there and are they important? Should I rank this page for them? Should I serve up this page in the results when somebody types that word or phrase into my search engine?”
The words didn’t need to be on the page organically. They didn’t need to be a part of the content that was being served up. That’s how SEO hacking was able to happen. Coders learned what these search engines are looking for and served up that information trying to serve up their client’s web pages or blogs. It was a very different time and day in the reality of Google for sure.
What I’m about to say is specific to Google. Google is a highly sophisticated system in organizing information and serving it up to people based on what they search on. It does not use tags at all. There are some things that still do and I’m going to get to that. Tags are not worthless. If you get into this point and you’re thinking, “I don’t need to care about tags?” That’s not entirely true. We’re going to get there but they’re not as important as they used to be. The reality is Google doesn’t even use them.
Where Tags Are Still Referenced
There are other places though that you will see tags referenced. For instance, if you create your own blogs on WordPress, you’ll see in the right sidebar on any WordPress blog builder, which is what you would do if you’re creating a blog, there is a little text box there where you can enter tags and it will let you do it. WordPress was created a long time ago when more search engines used tags. There’s still an infrastructure there for you to enter tags for your blog posts in case a search engine uses them.
As I said before, Google doesn’t use them anymore because Google has done something much more sophisticated, relevant, and valuable. They’re making up their own minds. They’re scanning every piece of content on your website, every blog, and page that has text on it. They’re deciding on their own, to a large degree, which words or phrases are valuable and, which people are searching on, and should they serve up your page, website, content or blog for the phrase or words that you’ve typed into their search bar. Certainly, there are things you could do to optimize it to make a page on your website or blog be deep, comprehensive content and have a lot of value in it in terms of SEO through the eyes of Google.
In the modern internet, Google search is one of the only ones that matter. Interestingly, the search engine Bing, which has a very low single-digit. It may even be less than 1% of all internet searches happen on Bing. If it’s not less than 1%, it’s a very low single-digit percentage of internet searches or searching on Bing. Bing still uses tags. If you want your content and posts to be relevant to Bing, then keep putting tags in them because it’s going to help you there but it’s not going to help you on the vast majority of search engines on the internet.
Where Google Still Uses Tags
As I said, Google has its algorithms. They decide what’s important. There definitely are ways to optimize a blog post and make it what I would call well-rounded, holistically. Have a lot of different aspects to it, images, texts of different sizes and boldness, outbound links, images that are embedded within it with captions, and those images can have tags. That’s a different tag. An Alt Tag in an image is the one place where Google still uses tags. I’m going to make this an exception to the earlier rule that I was saying.
Let’s say, you’re doing a real estate podcast and you’ve taken a photograph of something I want in your properties. You give it to us, not only for when you produce your episode but to put it in the blog post for the episode. We’ll certainly use it. We would always recommend if you can take original pictures, provide them and we’ll use them. When we put them on your website, we load them into the website, and then it gets associated. You can put captions of texts that will display below the image but on the backside in the meta-data, something you never see on a website, there is a place to enter in what they call Alt Tags for an image.When you put your videos up on YouTube, you should absolutely put in tags because the YouTube search bar is the number two search bar on the internet and putting tags on your videos actually works there. Click To Tweet
That is still used and does work to help images come up in Google image search for certain keyword phrases. In fact, very often, if you’re searching out a certain keyword and you wanted to check out your competitors and see where they rank on a keyword phrase, don’t just type it in a normal Google. Also, look at the image search results. You might find that images from a page on their website are tagged with those keywords or keyword phrases, and then their engines will show up.
It’s another way people will find you. That’s very valuable. We certainly use Alt Tags all the time. In general, as I said, Google is going to decide on their own why they’re going to care about your webpage or blog post, article, podcast and video. They’re going to use their systems to determine and analysis of the content to decide what’s important.
In terms of modern SEO, if you’re paying somebody hundreds of dollars a month, and I’ve heard of people spending way too much money every month on some SEO expert who is going to make sure you continue to come up with certain keywords at the top of the first page of Google search, honestly, you’re likely wasting your money or certainly spending more than you need to. It’s good to give your website an overall health check maybe once every six months, certainly once a year, and make sure that it’s configured as it should be for certain keyword phrases. The reality is there’s not much to change on that from month-to-month.
The way Google is now, you can’t rank for words or phrases that don’t exist in the text copy of a page on your website anyway. It’s not like, “I’m Podetize. Here’s my homepage.” If I don’t mention episode production, and that’s one of the keyword phrases I want to come up for, if it’s not anywhere in writing or text on the page, I’m never going to come up for it anyway. It doesn’t matter what configuration is done on the backend.
That SEO configuration is very minor. You’re not fishing in a pond with a lot of fish available to find. You’re playing in a very small pond with a lot of competition of others trying to all compete for the same keywords for their websites to come up. I’m venturing a little more into SEO than I planned to but the way you’re going to come up is by providing valuable content that has the words or phrases in it that you want to be found for. We can do that with podcasting really well. You speak your way to it. On the video, you’re doing the same thing. You’re speaking right through it on video.
Tags In Podcast Hosting Platforms
Eventually, those things become a blog when you work with us at Podetize. Be aware of that. Let’s get to podcasting because, in the early days of podcasting, tags were a big deal there, too. In fact, on a lot of different podcast-hosting platforms, Podetize is one. There’s Libsyn, PodBean, SoundCloud, Spreaker, and Buzzsprout. There are lots of different podcast-hosting platforms out there. If you are on one of those platforms, if you’ve ever gone in and looked at your show information for your show listing or at the episode level and information, they have fields available where you could put tags in there.
However, I’m here to tell you from a technical backend perspective, those tags are doing nothing anymore. They did many years ago, in the earlier days of podcasting. Apple is still the king of the hill when it comes to podcasting. Even though their market share is being eroded by some other players, they are still for most podcasts plays more than 50% of your podcast. I know because we built our own platform, Podetize to host podcasts, that there is absolutely nowhere in their system that still pays attention to tags. They don’t. It’s a waste of time for most podcasters to configure their shows or episodes for certain tags.
Tags In YouTube
So far, I’ve given you a lot of reasons why you don’t need to worry about tags and they’re not very important. There is one platform and one medium where tags still play a very large role. That is on YouTube, your videos. If you are like about half of our podcasters and you record your episodes, not only as audio but also as video, we’re editing your videos and putting them out on YouTube.Unless you’re publishing a video on YouTube, you don’t need to waste your time on creating tags. Click To Tweet
YouTube has a very large field to put tags and they can, not just be single words but also phrases. On YouTube, when we put your videos up there or when any of you put your own videos up there, you absolutely should be putting in tags because YouTube’s search bar, which is the number two search bar on the internet. It’s a distant second to google but it is the number two search engine. They do use tags. I don’t have a lot of information as to why but I know they do and it works. In addition to other mediums like podcasts, your title, and description are the primary sources of information that the podcast app search bars will search through. They don’t use tags.
On YouTube, they’re using both the title and description and tags, and you can put a lot in there. What I do, I have my YouTube and we do this with most of our clients. If there are certain keyword phrases you want to be associated with your brand or your show all the time, you can create a default setting within your YouTube channel. Whenever you upload a new video, it’s going to put in all the same tags in the tag field to start with.
In the description field, if you want to have links to your website and some information about your company, you’re going to put more of a unique description for that video. Above that, you can, again, populate those things so that you don’t have to redo that every single time you post a new video. They’re already going to be there. It’s like a template. You want to put a unique title and description in YouTube videos but you also want to put tags. Basically, that’s any phrases that you think people might search on that you want this video to come up for.
As I’m thinking about YouTube and why they still use tags, it’s making more sense to me as to why. There’s not a large body of text that their search algorithms can be going through in order to rank and find your video instead of other people’s. What do they have to go on? It’s your title, description and tags. They need that information to be able to help it come up. That makes sense.
Again, YouTube is the place where tags are most important and we use them all the time. In blogs, we don’t use them anymore. There was a time several years ago where we were still putting them in because there was a little bit of uncertainty as to, whether they were important or not. I can tell you from experience that they’re not that important in blogs. We don’t even bother.
In podcasts, that also absolutely makes no difference. It’s not important. What’s good about that, that tags have become less important in podcasting and especially in blogs, is that what it means is the search bars are serving up content based on searches that are related more to titles, descriptions or the actual body of text. It’s genuine and authentic, meaning that the content does relate to what that search criteria are. That’s what you want.
Everything we’re doing here at Podetize with all of our customers is to make sure they’re seen, heard, and found because of the content they’re creating. It’s not to hack it and make bait and switch, “We’re going to use these keywords and we’re going to have this other content show up when they were really looking for something else.” That’s like a spam type of technique and we’re not doing that. We’re creating real, valuable, genuine, and authentic content that people will find based on what they search.
No matter what we might want to happen, podcast tags and blog tags are not going to help you do it. With video being the one notable exception. It still works on YouTube, so it’s well worth doing there. There you have it. There’s my take on everything about tags. If you’ve ever wondered, “Are these important? Why am I caring about tags? Should I care about tags? Do we need to waste time on it?” My opinion is no, you don’t unless you’re publishing a video to YouTube. In that case, you do. That’ll do it for this episode of Feed Your Brand. Thanks so much for reading everybody. I’ll be back next time with another great episode. Until then, have a great one.
- Alta Vista
- YouTube – Tracy & Tom Hazzard
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