My idea of fun: editing 800+ tag archive pages

September 14 | offbeatbride
Papertique as seen on the Offbeat Empire
If only our tag archives were all as pretty as Papertique's tags

Offbeat Bride has over 800 tags, ranging from 8-bit to zoot suit, accommodations to zombies, atheists to zoos. We also have more nuanced tags like special snowflake (for posts about that uniquely Offbeat Bride thing of feeling like your wedding won't be unique enough), manifestos (for posts that convey our core values and mission), and perspective (for posts that help you see your wedding as one part of a bigger picture). My editors and I have groomed and tended the tag archives like a garden for eight years, doing quarterly tag audits and backtagging projects.

In many ways, each tag archive page is like its own niche theme blog. Oh, you're into boho weddings? Here's that blog. You're into lesbian weddings? Here's the blog for you! You're planning a Seattle wedding? YEAH! You're looking for resources for wedding planning and disabilities? GOTCHOO!

And yet (AND YET!), we've long known that Google doesn't think our tag archive pages are nearly as useful as we do. The Googs likes posts or pages, not dynamic archives with no static content. It doesn't like offbeatbride.com/tag/bouquet-alternatives as much as it likes offbeatbride.com/2009/03/alternative-wedding-bouquets, which is a shame because the bouquet alternatives archive page is waaaay more current and robust.

So what am I doing this fall? I am manually editing every single Offbeat Bride tag so that Google likes them better. All 800 of them. For each tag, I'm manually setting:

  • The page title that Google sees
  • The page description, both what's displayed on the page (with links to related tag archives) as well as what Google displays
  • The header image that appears at the top of the page

It's truly tedious work, but the differences are significant. Compare offbeatbride.com/tag/1940s to offbeatbride.com/tag/1950s. The differences are even more dramatic when you look through the lens of Google. Super useful tag archives that had been buried deep in the bowels of search results are now showing huge increases. Check out how our humble little archive of wedding day schedule posts is doing:

tag archives traffic with change

These numbers aren't huge, but when you multiply them by 800 tags and hundreds of thousands of searches daily, it can start to add up. Also, it feels useful. I am chronically frustrated by people asking for information that's already available on the site… but that they're not finding! I have a weird compulsively helpful drive to ensure that as many people as possible can find as much of the information as they possibly can… I don't want anyone to feel confused or alone in their wedding planning, when I know that we've got the posts they need, but just don't know how to find.

Also, on an editorial level, it's good to remember posts I've forgotten about. With over 5700 posts on Offbeat Bride (don't even get me started on Offbeat Home & Life, which now contains the Offbeat Families archive!), my garden is pretty huge and tangly. I need to know what's in there.

    • A script that can write clickbait titles, intelligently hooky excerpts catered to the keywords and phrases for that topic, and find not-immediately-obvious relevant categories, tags, and posts? When you find a script that does that, lemme know and I'll fire all my human editors. 😉

      2 agree
      • The titles I expected you would have to write but I thought you had the tags related..sorta? Where do the “you might also like” links get generated?

        • Related/recommended posts are generated by third parties: Outbrain and AddThis, and they're related algorithmically by reader patterns, not by taxonomy.

  1. Compulsively helpful information organizing isn't weird! That's the essence of Library Science, which is one of the great noble callings. 🙂

    12 agree
    • Preach! As an archivist, I can appreciate the daunting task of editing a ton of legacy description… But I also kind of don't mind doing it.

      1 agrees
  2. I appreciate this. I don't know how often I've had friends talking about Viking weddings or circus weddings or whathaveyou and I've come to the Offbeat Bride site, looked up the tag page and then linked it to them because I wanted them to see they weren't alone and their crazy idea could totally work. I am very excited that people who are unfamiliar with your sites will still be able to find these massive "you are not alone" compilations through the search method they are used to!

Comments are closed.