The Beginner's Guide to Building an Audience Through Better Tagging

How to make followers and influence other writers through better tagging.

Ashley made some great points in her article about using tags to enhance your SEO. I wanted to touch on some of the ways you can use tags to enhance your articles for readers as well.

Help your readers find other great content

When you add relevant tags (and games) to your post, GameSkinny pulls other related posts from around the site. Sure, many of those posts lead to other writers, but odds are that related links from their posts will lead back to yours if everyone is tagging correctly. In the game of tagging, everyone who plays is a winner.

Create followable tags

Did you know you can follow tags to find out when new related articles are posted? Following tags is a great way to keep up with the things that interest you that aren't tied to specific games or platforms. Want to know about the latest great Kickstarter projects? Tired of missing Humble Bundles or Steam sales? What's the latest news from Valve or Blizzard? Love all things Zelda?

Here are a few of MY favorite things.

We're making it easier for readers to get the news they want, and you can help by giving your article appropriate tags. What does that mean? Tag important companies or people involved in your article (examples: Sony, John Carmack, Mojang). If you're discussing specific technology or software, tag it! (examples: Oculus Rift, Kickstarter, Dualshock, Steam Box)

The first key to creating a great followable tag is to ask yourself if it's something you would consider following or searching for yourself. Another key is specificity: if your tag is too generic or bland, then it's unlikely others would look for or follow it. Finally, make sure your tags are relevant. If your article is only tangentially related to a specific tag, it's probably better to avoid using it. (The same thing goes for games and platforms.)

In fact, using tags inappropriately can come across as spam. Sure, more people *may* see your article initially (if our editors don't remove the tag spam), but repeat offenses will lead them to stop following you or your tags. So don't do it. Tag responsibly. A good rule of thumb is to add no more than 5-7 tags. If you find yourself exceeding that, consider whether any of your tags "break" the above rules (or whether your article needs to be broken up into a couple of articles).

Create your own column using tags

Always wanted to riff regularly on a specific topic or explore related concepts in more depth? Create a witty column name and OWN it! Tag every new column with your witty column name. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point about creating followable tags - tagging your column helps your readers follow and discover when you post new content.

Several of our writers have used tags for either ongoing or short-run series of articles. Mat Westhorpe posted a great introduction to Eve Online. TygerWDR regularly talks about the mechanics and communities of online massively multiplayer gaming as part of his MUD2MMO video series. Did you know you can find all kinds of useful guides to success for thriving on GameSkinny?

Foster discussions between writers

Sometimes you write something, and you just know that others will want to chime in. Perhaps you'd love to know what other writers think is the ultimate game mashup. Or maybe you want to cover a topic that's particularly inflammatory. Everything's better with friends, right? Why not invite your friends (and fellow writers) to participate by creating a new tag for your discussion? Think of them like hashtags for long-form writing and be creative.

This is just the start. Yes, tags are pretty simple, but they are also a great tool to help you build an audience and foster further discussion.

Published Nov. 18th 2013

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