#1 Secret Tip that Will Make You See More Search Engine Traffic

By: | February 21, 2016 | Tags: , , , , |

Increase Search Engine TrafficWould you like to increase your search engine traffic?

Wouldn’t we all?

Would you be interested if I told you I discovered a secret tip for increasing search engine traffic?

I followed the tip, and my search engine traffic increased thirteen times!

It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s the opposite of everything you’ve been told about how to get search engine traffic.

In order to present a case study of how I increased my search engine traffic thirteen times, I will use a before and after format– before I discovered the tip and after.

Before I Received the Search Engine Traffic Tip


I was a new blogger and eager to learn all the information I could to be the best blogger I could be.

I had heard that you could use up to 15 tags for each WordPress blog post. Use them I would.

I was as creative as my out-of-the-box thinking allowed me to be.

For example, I was offering blogging advice, so I would tag my post advice”.

I was offering blogging solutions, so I tagged my posts “solutions”.

Today, I know that this is silly. Anyone looking for blogging advice at Google would type in “blogging” or something along those lines.

Needless to say, my 2014 search engine traffic was low.


Wiser, I stopped giving my blog posts irrelevant tags. However, I still continued to make sure I packed my posts with relevant tags and categories that totalled a maximum of 15. I sure was going to make sure I got the biggest bang for my buck I could get.

I patted myself on the back all year. I was proud at what an ambitious tagger I was.

I networked often in order to grow my blog. All over the blogosphere I saw blog posts that had a category called “Uncategorized.”

That definitely wasn’t going to be me. I certainly wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to be found in search engines.

Needless to say, my search engine traffic remained low.

Was I red flagged? No! Should I have been? Yes.

I’ll tell you why I wasn’t alarmed. I know blogging isn’t one of the trendiest topics to write about. I just assumed everything is relative.

Then, as I started to talk to people across the blogosphere further, we discussed what our Number One traffic referrers were. Everyone reported “search engines” except for me. Facebook had always been my Number One (now it’s StumbleUpon).

At this point, I was confused. I am pretty familiar with the trendiest topics at Buzzsumo. Many bloggers with higher search engine traffic than mine were blogging about topics that would not get high marks at Buzzsumo.

However, I was happy. My community was growing, and I was discovering a joy in blogging I had never before experienced.

People started to write me for tagging help.

I explained it this way:

Think of an outline complete with Main Points and Subpoints. The categories are the Main Points and the Tags are the Subpoints.

Easy? So I thought.

Needless to say, my search engine traffic remained low all last year.


Two days before 2016 started, I received a tip from a successful blogging friend.

He sent me an Email that he had been privy to a blogging tip. He divulged that the source of the tip wished to remain anonymous.

A tip from an anonymous source? Deep Throat, the informant who wished to remain anonymous when he met with Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein in an underground garage, came to mind.

My source had an anonymous source? How exciting! How intriguing!

Now I’m going to share the tip with you. Are you ready? Here it is:

Use fewer tags. That’s it.

I was mildly concerned. What if this were true? I had hundreds of posts by the end of 2015 all tagged with 15 relevant keywords.

But, it couldn’t be true. Hey, I worked hard at tagging my posts, and hard work gets results. Right?

Apparently not.

After I Received the Search Engine Traffic Tip

To be on the safe side, on the off-chance that the rumor was true, I hardly assigned any tags to the post I was in the middle of composing.

Immediately, my search engine traffic went up.

A coincidence, right? On the off-chance this wasn’t a coincidence, I started to go back into a few of my posts and decrease the number of tags.

Within six days my search engine traffic rose and continued to rise. This was for the period that included New Years. The blogosphere is usually slower over the holidays.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I tell someone? Should I tell my readers?

I decided to test the tip for two months. If, at the end of two months, my search engine traffic remained spiked, I would report the secret tip and my findings.

I am not going to include screen shots. Again, everything is relative. What is an abnormally high number for me might be a low number for someone else.

The bottom line is my search engine traffic is thirteen times higher than it was less than two months ago.

There is an added benefit to following the tip. I have more subscribers as a result of using the search engine traffic tip.

Starting the middle of January, I asked new subscribers like I always did how they found me. Three said from Google. Normally, no one answers that way. Two said they found me by researching Pinterest and one said he lost all his subscribers, Googled what to do, and my name came up.

A Plausible Explanation the Search Engine Traffic Tip Works

This is how it was explained to me. By having too many tags for your blog post, you are building yourself too small a net to catch enough search engine users. You are boxing yourself in. In my mind, you are building too small a box.

Proof the Search Engine Traffic Tip Works

There is support for this theory that you should use fewer tags for your posts, not more.

Consider this comment from a reader:

I have had my own recipe blog for almost a year and rarely get traffic from Pinterest. If I search using very specific terms (i.e. the name of my own recipe) it doesn’t show up in Pinterest’s search at all, which is rather frustrating.

My question is: Am I missing something? My pictures are quite pretty, I use relevant keywords in my descriptions, I re-pin other people’s pins, regularly re-pin my own, all without success! Any ideas where I am going wrong?

This was my response:

I read about a method that appears to have success with various search engines for everyone who has tried it. I, myself, am testing the method, and will write a post on its effectiveness after I’ve tested it for several months.
The method contradicts existing research that says the more specific your keywords are, the better your search engine results.
The method basically says do NOT be specific when you tag your posts and pictures. Even if you are using broad terms like relevant keywords, if you are using “very specific terms”, you are pigeonholing yourself. Stop! Your net is way too narrow, and you are catching no one.

If you have broad tags, your net will catch a wider amount of people.

In Jason Cushman‘s post on tagging, he ended by advising bloggers to “Think basic, think generic.”

The frustrated commenter admitted she was using “very specific terms.”

Even Chris McMullen says to only use few tags. Think of  tags people might search for at a search engine.

Testimonial the Search Engine Traffic Tip Works

According to Danny Ray, by using general tags, you cast a much larger net, while too many specific tags pigeon-hole your page. And this is especially important if the platform like WordPress limits the number of tags.

Danny reported, “I started using general tags at the beginning of November, and my unique visits and new followers rose exponentially!”


In conclusion, this post has been presented in a cause and effect format as well as a sequential format. It should be plain to see that reducing the tags in your blog post will result in more people finding you in search engines, not less.

I mentioned at the start of the post, Search Engines was my second biggest referrer of traffic, and Facebook was my first. Search Engines is still my second biggest referrer of traffic after StumbleUpon, but it is now head and shoulders above Facebook.

If you follow the one simple tip in this post, user fewer tags, you can also experience greater search engine traffic.

Readers, please share so the secret tip isn’t a secret anymore and more bloggers can benefit from increased search engine traffic.

What are your experiences with SEO? Do you feel there is a connection between tagging and search engine traffic? What do you feel causes increased search engine traffic– more tags or less? I look forward to your views.

Related Posts:

How to Significantly Rise in the SEO Ranks

How to Get Your Blog Found on Google

7 Warning Signs that Google Can’t Find You

How to Increase Blog Traffic Like an SEO Expert

  1. Peter Beckenham

    Hi Janice,

    Wow hard to believe that a simple thing like using fewer tags could make so much difference to your traffic.

    I am no SEO expert but for sure I will be trying out your experiences with tags and will let you know what happens.

    Many thanks for sharing your expertise

    Best wishes from the remote Thai village blogger


    • Janice Wald

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you for writing me. Yes, please let me know how the “trick” works for you in the comment section of this post, so others can read it too. If it works for you, it would be a testimonial to the method. Thanks,

  2. Cathy Chester

    Thanks, Janice. I’ll have to test it out. But you’re also saying to use broader term in tags, correct? Because some of my tags are “Multiple Sclerosis” which is sometimes what I write about. Is that too specific?

    Such an easy thing to do – limiting the tags. I’ll have to try it out. Many thanks.c

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Cathy,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks for writing. I agree– easy. Isn’t it nice when a new method involves us doing LESS work?
      I don’t think Multiple Sclerosis is too specific at all. I think it’s fine. It’s what someone would search at a search engine.

    • Julie Syl Kalungi

      Well Cathy if your main topic is Multiple Sclerosis then its advisable to use it in its broad and specific sense. What I believe Janice is sharing here is we should test out using less tags i.e. use less “Keyword” tags instead maybe go for the long tailed words and use less of them at least under 15 🙂

      And its advisable to maybe also check your traffic analytics before and after. I am creating an ab test just for this and I will see. I will be posting a post with more and post with less every week and see which performs better! I handle a specific topic per week!

      Julie Syl~

      • Janice Wald

        Hi Julie,
        Great idea to do an A/B test to test the theory. All I know is it has dramatically worked for me.
        I so wanted to apologize for not responding sooner. I so respect you; I am one of your readers. I wouldn’t want you to think me rude. I found your comments today in the Spam folder. I have “approved” them. The situation should not reoccur. Thank you for clarifying for my reader Cathy.
        Thank you for dropping by my blog.

  3. M. L. Kappa

    Interesting theory, Janice. I’ve no opinion at the moment, but will certainly try it out. Thanks!

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Marina,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks for writing. Let me know how it goes in the comment section. If it works, your comments could serve as a testimonial. Make sure you take note of what your search engine traffic is now, so you can compare stats after trying this for a while.

  4. Patrice M Foster

    Janice, Interesting idea! Simple as just using less tagging made a difference in your traffic. Although I have been told to use more. I’ll have to try. Thanks for sharing this secret search engine traffic tip so others can benefit.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Patrice,
      Nice to hear from you. Thanks for writing. You know it is always my pleasure to help.
      Simple, I agree. Less tagging = less work for us.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Jacqueline,
      That seems to be the consensus here today. If it works for you, let us know in the comments section, so your success could serve as a testimonial that the method works for other people. Thanks, and thanks for writing,

  5. Debbie

    This is very much interesting. So for an example, what tags did you use for this post? I like anything that means a little less work 🙂

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for writing. Here are the tags for this post:
      All but the second are generic. The second I got from using Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It told me over 1,000 people search for Search Engine Optimization Techniques each month, so I used that as well.
      My categories were Blogging and Case Study, well under the 15 max.
      I think we all like anything that involves us doing less! By the way, your Flipboard and Social Engagement articles were amazing.
      Great to hear from you.

  6. John Doe

    It seems like an unusual concept but if you say it then the only thing I can correlated with is from the movie Field of dreams, if you build it they will come. I guess what I’m saying is if you say it , It will work.

    • Janice Wald

      Thanks for the faith John Doe! At least, it works for me and the people I quoted.

  7. dgkaye

    Wow, this was interesting. Thanks. Glad I was never one to overload my tags! 🙂

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Debby,
      In contrast to me, LOL. I tried to be an overachiever =).

  8. Margaretha (Equine Guided MD)

    Well, that is a relief – I can rarely think of more than 3 or 4 tags (I do SEO them) to add to my posts and I have to confirm; since I started blogging in November last year, search engines have always been my biggest traffic providers, with stumble upon second. Thanks for another great post, Janice

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Margaretha,
      Great to hear from you. I think a lot of people are relieved. Less tagging = less work = happy bloggers.
      It sounds like you are providing a nice testimonial for the method in this post. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Vernon

    Thanks Janice,

    Wow! It makes sense now. I have shared before when I just write and use tags that support the post I have seen good results.

    But when I added more tages it didn’t do as well.

    I never put the two together.


    • Janice Wald

      Hi Vernon,
      Thanks for writing. You are providing a nice testimonial for the ideas in the post. Thanks for sharing your experiences, so others can see.

  10. Leanne

    I don’t use very many tags – just one per post and fairly generic. SEO doesn’t seem to do much for me and I’m sure it’s because I’m a bit of a noob in that area – it’s something to work on (and I’m pinning this for future reference – I’ll Stumble it too 🙂 )

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Leanne,
      I use Google Adwords Keyword Planner. I type in my focus word, and it tells me what to tag my post and which keywords have low competition. Thanks for writing and for pinning and stumbling my article. Much appreciated!

  11. Tessa

    I agree that some of the tags are too tight and will miss most people, but you need to think about your intended office.

    Mental Health as a tag is too general. I want Bipolar bloggers so I have to go specific and use bipolar. I have almost every mental health disorder out there and could use mental health and I usually do with bipolar too.

    Good idea I just think there are times when more specific is needed.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Tess,
      I hear you. I just know what I was doing wasn’t working, wasn’t “catching” enough people at search engines. I got broader, the stats went up. I am just sharing a method I’ve had success with. Everyone should do what works for them. Thanks for writing. Great to see you.

  12. Hugh

    Interesting theory, Janice. It goes against what WordPress tell you to do, but I will test it out and let you know what happens. In fact, I’ve already reduced the number of tags on today’s post from 12 to six.
    Stumbleupon has also become my number one referrer and I’m using it more. Let’s see if ‘Search Engines’ end up as my two referrer.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Hugh,
      Thanks for writing. Great to hear from you! I’m glad my post could influence you to reduce your number of tags. As you read, the reduction helped more search engine users find me.
      Please let me know in the comments section how it goes, so we all can see.
      I hear many people are experiencing success with StumbleUpon. I even have a StumbleUpon group on my site I started in October. Thanks for the visit.

  13. Richard Schulte

    Here’s my experience. I get lots of traffic from Google. By far it’s my main source of traffic. A significant percentage of searchers are arriving at blog “tag pages” which can show up very high in Google results. I select from a limited universe of (usually) simple one word tags. They are almost always an important and combineable keyword found in the body of a post. Some are nouns, some are verbs, some are adjectives. Every time I publish a new post with a certain tag, the content of that “tag page” expands. And as the “tag page” grows with additional pertinent, original material, it gets meatier, stays dynamic and gains authority in the eyes of Google. At first I used about 8-10 tags per post, but as my blog has grown to over 800 posts I now used 12-14. Scaling up in this fashion seems to have worked well. I’ll only add a new tag to my universe now if I’m blogging about something completely new, unique and specific that isn’t adequately covered by my existing tags. (Also important–simple, popular tags are followed by far more people on the WordPress reader than longer, more complex tags.)

    • Richard Schulte

      One more thing–I use both general and specific tags. Because people search for both. And often people searching for a specific thing are the people who will connect more deeply.

      • Janice Wald

        Hi Richard,
        Thanks for writing and sharing your experiences with tagging. It sounds like you have had a success with a higher number of tags. I don’t know if it’s your subject matter or if you are an exception to the method explained in the post. Did you read the comments that came in ahead of you? Most people agree that when they have few tags, they have more success.
        As I explained to one commenter, you should do what works for you. I was just sharing one method I heard about that has worked for me.

  14. Kandace Chadwell

    Thank you for this tip. I had heard of not doing too many but not that less is better.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Kandace,
      Thanks for writing me. I think who ever said not to do too many said so because less is better. I wish I had heard that. I could have saved myself a year.

    • Janice Wald

      Too funny. Hi Zeina,
      The identity of the anonymous blogger will have to remain a mystery, I am afraid. I respect my friend too much to pressure him for a name. What matters is the traffic, not the identity of the source. I am not curious enough to pry. Thank you for reading what I wrote.

  15. Gale

    Great advice. Honestly, I never used my tags for SEO. I used it for reader convenience, because that’s how I use tags as a reader. Since they bring up all the other posts with that tag, I think about which other types of posts on my blog a user might want to visit if they liked this one, and tag similarly to help them find them. And I always tag series with a single unique tag so that people can find the rest of the series easily. Some of those tags nest on my sidebar for easy access. Not sure how this works for SEO, but I hope it’s something that’s helpful to my readers.

    • Janice Wald

      HI Gale,
      It sounds like you have a good strategy. I am sorry for my delayed response, but your comment was in my Spam folder.

  16. Kathleen

    Thanks Janice, another very helpful post. I always learn something from reading your posts.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Morgan,
      Thanks for writing me. Did you read the other comments? Yours was echoed by the other readers. Happily, I piqued their curiosity by sharing the SEO tip, and now they want to see if it will work on their sites. My search engine traffic is remaining high. Good luck.

  17. Lori

    This is so interesting. I use Blogger still. I know. I need to switch over to WordPress, but it seems like a daunting task and I’m just nor ready for it. Anyway…when you say “tags”, I assume you’re talking about labels in blogger? Or does this not apply to Blogger blogs?

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Lori,
      I actually was on Blogger for a while, so I went back in and checked. Yes, on Blogspot, the tags are called “labels.” Yes, this relates to people who use Google’s platform as well. Thanks for writing and asking me.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Meg,
      Thank you for writing me. After you try out my “secret” tip, let me know how it goes.

  18. David Attard

    Janice, if I may propose an explanation to the search results?

    Google likes it when you can help them figure out the topic of the blog you are writing about. If you take a look at the webmaster guidelines, site structure in terms of information architecture is mentioned over and over again.

    Really and truly, when you are writing about topic x, Google wants you to “file” that information under topic x. If possible you should also use “topic”, “subtopic” as an indication of what you are writing about. This is ideally “shown” to Google through the URL structure.

    So your website should follow this structure:


    Now, when you use a single tag, you are giving the post a “single” structure related to that tag. If you have a look at the URL of the tag cloud to the right, you can see that the url will be mostlyblogging.com/tag/advice … that is an excellent site structure.

    Tagging with multiple tags on the other hand will do the opposite. It will confuse Google with multiple subtopics, rather than a single strong signal towards a specific topic.

    I hope this has been somewhat helpful to you and your readers.

  19. Janice Wald

    HI David,
    Thank you for writing.
    I am going to Email you about this since I have some questions. Thanks.

  20. Julie Syl Kalungi

    Hi Janice,

    I had never linked lesser tags to more blog traffic.

    Tagging with too many tags cab be useful or contra-intuiive depending on how its done. If the tags aren’t related then Google bots get confused and categorize your post as “uncategorized” or dump it on page 20 for your topic arrrgg bugger. Its what you wanted to avoid in the first place!

    Most of my Traffic comes from Facebook and Pinterest. Yet When Someone finds my posts via a SE its always from a tag I used. In some posts I just add a coupe of tags but recently I use a lot more and I am getting a lot more traffic.

    So here is the deal. I am going to take a Screenshot of my Analytics and from now till end of march I shall use a maximum of 5 gerenal topic tags. Keep your eyes peeled for my results or remind me I will share. I blog twice a week on juleskalpauli .com and once a week on pkjulesworld.com this should be interesting!

    I thank you for this tip Janice. Its not always that “underground tips” are shared so freely

    Julie Syl~

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Julie,
      As I explained, I didn’t respond sooner since your comments ended up in Spam. I am sorry.
      In response to your comments, don’t you think search engine results are relative? I mean, don’t the results vary depending on what one blogs about?

  21. Janice Wald

    Update: Search engine referral traffic was the highest it’s ever been on my site today, higher than when I wrote the article.
    My search engine traffic is 15 times higher than when I started reducing my tags.

  22. Anna

    Great tip! I try to do this with my tags, but I’m curious if you know anything about using famous things as tags? For instance, I did a post about The Hug and Roll from the tv show Friends so I tagged Hug and Roll and Friends, thinking something famous might be good for tagging. Thoughts?

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Anna,
      This is so sweet of you to drop by today.
      I have a generic answer to your question. It does not matter if the tag is famous or not. If Google Adwords Keyword Planner says people are looking for it, then you should use it as a tag (if the competition is “Low”.”
      Out of curiosity, I went to https://adwords.google.com and typed in The Hug and Roll. Nothing came up. Then I typed in the Hug and Roll from Friends. Season 3 of Friends came up. Was it in that season?
      At any rate, I just gave you the link, if you are not already familiar with it. Check there for whatever you are considering using.
      I am excited about you joining our StumbleUpon group. Send me a link to stumble any time. Thanks again for dropping by today.

  23. Donna (Just One Donna)

    I’ve been struggling with tags lately. Google is my #1referral source so I believe I’m doing something right. I’m a lifestyle blogger with post topics that vary. I believe that can be confusing to Google. I’m working to be more focused in posting topics. By happenstance, one of the things I did early in the year was to reduce the number of tags I was using for clarity purposes. My Google page rank has improved since doing that. There are a few pages that I’m ranking in the top 4 positions on Google and that makes all the difference. I’m trying to figure out how that happened for those posts so I can recreate the formula. I actually think the post title has more to do with it than tags.

    • Janice Wald

      HI Donna,
      I love analyzing this stuff, as I am sure you can tell. I disagree with what you wrote at the end.
      As my post explained, I had strong headlines and many tags (15) but had low search engine traffic. Now, I have strong headlines and few tags, and I have decent search engine traffic. It must be the tags. Nothing else changed. By the way, since writing my case study, my search engine traffic is now up even higher than when I wrote the article! =)
      Thanks for writing. Nice to hear from you.

  24. SEO Minneapolis MN

    Thank you so much for sharing wonderful post. Good information and good research. It is helpful.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi SEO Minneapolis MN,
      I greatly appreciate your glowing comments on my blog last week. My apologies for not coming by sooner. I generally respond within three days not six. I was proud of my “Secret Tip” post. Did you see the comments? My readers seemed to like it as well. Thank you again for the visit and the nice remarks.

  25. Nicole

    Thanks for this tip Janice! I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. Right now my search engine traffic is pretty low so it should be an interesting experiment.

    • Janice Wald

      Thanks for writing; my search engine traffic has increased 20 times since I started using fewer tags. Let me know how it goes.

  26. Donna DeGuglielmo

    Thank you Janice, another great article. I need to try this out if anything it will not hurt. as any good manager need to try diff things … i am starting hosting with host gator next week… with all that combined and trying StumbleUpon and thinking basic sounds like a plan to start out for me. I will let you know 🙂 great work I appreciate it very much. blessings donna marie

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Donna,
      Yes, please let me know how your self-hosting goes. Thanks for the compliments on my article. It’s so easy to reduce your tags– it gives you less to do and more to gain! Let me know how that goes for you too.

  27. Mark

    Thanks for sharing such a counter intuitive tip Janice!

    And it most certainly does fly in the face, of the typical
    SEO talk of the day!

    And while I was never an overachiever (as you put it), with regards
    to adding my tags.

    Now I know I definitely shouldn’t be and therefore I won’t even attempt it
    going forward!

    Thanks for sharing another extremely simple and practical blogging tip,
    which can be implemented right away!

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Mark,
      Did you read the other comments on this post? Hugh’s stats exploded when he took the fewer tags tip.

  28. Christina

    Interesting. I don’t do a lot of tags, but I have always struggled with them. Sometimes my tags overlap my categories, which I have heard I should not do. Thoughts? Maybe i need to go in and make those tags I do use broader — “Halloween” instead of “Halloween Craft”…… Always learning something!

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Sunil,
      I am glad you enjoyed my secret tip article. Everyone loves secrets! Thanks for writing to tell me.

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