Posted on January 26, 2016
Many WooCommerce websites don’t use product tags effectively. Why is this? Perhaps many users add tags as an afterthought. But this would be massively understating the importance of product tags.
So let’s start at the beginning…
WooCommerce provides two ways to distinguish related products. These are known as product categories and product tags. As the name suggests product categories are used to categorise your products. So, for example, if you were selling camera equipment, you may have a product category of cameras and one of accessories. Product Categories are hierarchical, so you can create a tree-like structure that users can filter through for more specific results. Product Tags are used to tag a product with a term that can relate to multiple, otherwise, unrelated products.
An example of this would be that if you had a black coloured camera in your cameras category and a black coloured camera case in your accessories category, you could tag both products with black to show they share that characteristic. Then if a user clicks that tag, they’ll be taken to a page with all the products tagged with black.
Your product tag should mirror the way a book incorporates its index
A great way I’ve heard product categories and tags described before is in terms of a book. When you open a book, you’ll often find a contents section at the front, listing either chapter titles or section headings for ease of finding certain information. This is in essence the purpose of a product category. When you turn to the back of the book, you’ll often find individual terms in an index with page numbers making it easier for you to find key phrases in the books content. This is what a product tag should be used for.
Why are product tags needed?
There are 3 major benefits to using tags:
- Tags can be used to add an extra way for your users to navigate your products on your website,
- WooCommerce’s Related Products feature relies on tags and categories,
- They can also be used to help boost your search engine rankings.
1. Tags can improve site navigation for your customers
The way a user interacts with your site will determine whether they purchase from your or from another seller. Adding product tags makes the experience of finding products on your site much better and more streamlined.
Carefully considered use of tags can make a great user experience when browsing your site. You should use tags as a way to create a “customer journey” and provide guidance through your shop that will not only help the user traverse your products, but will also generate more business. Think about the way a big retail chain influences the way you move through their store by use of signs, product positioning and layout of the shelves. You can achieve the same results online as the retailer does in-store using product tags.
A user could be browsing for camera lenses, and is may encounter the following screen:
Looking at the tags, they may notice that there are other lenses available with 83x zoom and decide to have a look. You have just enhanced their experience with the tags you have created.
You should also look to add an area to your site where you can display these tags to users, such as a tag cloud widget. Tag clouds are great because they are designed to make the tag’s text size bigger the more it is viewed. This can give users a great way to look at popular tags and see what the rest of the crowd is liking so much.
2. Tags are used by WooCommerce’s Related Products feature
WooCommerce’s related products feature provides a mechanism for creating cross-sells between products that share the same tags or categories.
This is built into WooCommerce as standard. It depends on the theme that you are using as to where the related products will be displayed on your site, but a common place is on the individual product pages. See image below for an example.
This adds another way in which the user can traverse the different areas of your shop giving them a better experience overall, and giving your shop a chance to sell more.
3. Tags can increase search engine rankings
When you create a tag WordPress automatically generates a page for you. As this page is shown as a link on the product’s page, this has created a semantic link between the two.
Putting it more simply, every tag has a page and on that page you’ll find every product with that tag. And every one of those products has a link back to the tag page linked by the name of the tag. This is great for Google!
See the example below and how the term “black” relates these products:
A word of advice: Don’t overdo it!
Another mistake I’ve come across before when browsing WooCommerce sites is overusing the product tags. When you have too many tags on your site this can actually take away all of the benefits of using the tags in the first place. For example, if you were to go to an online shop and find there are 40 different tags relating to a single product, you are not likely to check each of the 40 tags to see if there are other products that relate to this one. If you were to reduce this number to 4 tags, a user is much more likely to use these tags as they are more readable, clear and precise.
Stick to the “seven plus or minus two rule” which states that humans on average can remember between 5 and 9 items. What does this have to do with product tags? Well if you use more than 7, you may be using too many.
As you can see from the example, a lot of tags have been used here and the effect it’s had is that now, the importance of each tag individually has been drastically reduced. The idea is not to flood your products with tags, but to tag relevantly so that end users will find use from them.
When creating your tags, try to think like you are creating an index for your site. Tags can help impress upon your visitors that your website understands the way they think. If a user believes you are in tune with their thought process, they are more likely to trust and buy from you.
Tags are seriously underutilised. The more tools you have in your toolbox, provided you use them effectively, the more those tools will help you to achieve your goals.