On Medium, you can choose up to 5 tags that best describe your story.
Just keep in mind, that the tags aren’t as important as you might imagine. You can get a handful of readers by using accurate tags, but the overall success of your story has nothing to do with tags.
In this guide, I will show you how to choose Medium tags.
1. Use Relevant Tags
To make tags effective, use common sense. Don’t add popular tags if they don’t reflect the content.
Think about the tags as five words (or phrases) that best describe your article.
If you use irrelevant tags, no one is going to read your story.
2. Use Less Popular Tags
On Medium, you can place 5 tags on your stories. Out of those 5 tags, make sure at least 2 of them are less popular.
Targeting only the most popular tags is bad because your stories get lost in the sea of hundreds of thousands of stories. By targeting less popular “long tail” tags you can get more accurate results for the searchers.
For example, if this very article was on Medium, I’d prefer to use the tag “Medium Tags” instead of “Blogging”. If you think about it, someone who follows “Blogging” is unlikely to read a story about Medium tags. But if someone searches for “Medium Tags”, chances are they will find this article insightful.
So even though “Blogging” tag targets a thousand times bigger audience, most likely no one would read the article.
3. Target as Many Audiences as Possible
Use unrelated tags.
Let’s say you write a blogging-related article and tag it with: “Blogging”, “Blogging Tips”, “Blog”, “Blogs”, “Tips for Blogging”.
Do you see a problem here?
All the tags are heavily related. This means you are targeting the same group of people with every single tag. Someone who follows “Blogging Tips” will most likely check “Tips for Blogging” too.
Try to come up with tags that are less related to one another.
But don’t overdo it! If I had to choose, I’d rather use tags that are similar rather than tags that are completely irrelevant to the story.
4. Mind the Numbers
When you choose the tags, Medium shows you suggestions.
These numbers are not the number of followers of these tags! Instead, they are the number of stories with that tag.
So using tags with a high usage number means you are competing against numerous stories.
Keep this in mind when choosing tags! Don’t only choose ones with a high usage number. Pick a couple that is not used that frequently.
Should You Change the Tags After Publishing?
It is possible to change tags after publishing a story.
But the question is, should you?
If you change a tag say a week after publishing the story, you don’t end up on the top of the list of the latest stories of the tag. This is because the tags show posts based on the publishing date of the post, not based on when it was tagged.
Thus, if you change tags retrospectively, you are not going to get an audience boost. But if you want to change the tags, you can do it. For example, if you think there is a more relevant tag, feel free to use it at any time.
How Many Views Do You Get from Tags on Medium?
Not a lot, unfortunately.
Here is an example of one of my worst-performing stories.
And take a look at my tags:
Besides, keep in mind I have almost 3,000 followers.
So with some of the most popular tags in place, with 3k followers, and a relevant publication, the story has 60 views. And the story has been around for 10 months or so.
Unfortunately, this is the typical performance with tags. Almost all your traffic comes from other sources, such as publications and external views.
So even though tags are important, you won’t gain much from using them. So make sure not to spend too much time worrying about the tags!
Today you learned how to choose tags for your stories on Medium.
To put it short, don’t worry too much about the tags. Tags will only bring you a few visitors here and there.
But because adding tags is such an easy task to do, you should definitely do it.
Remember to use relevant tags that aren’t too similar. Don’t solely go for the big tags because you’ll only get lost among other similar stories.
Thanks for reading. Happy writing!