Merge WordPress Tags Easily and Quickly for a Leaner, Better Site

Merge WordPress Tags Easily and Quickly for a Leaner, Better Site

In a way, tags in WordPress are like categories. They are meant to group similar topics together in a way that makes them easily accessible (i.e. by clicking on a tag link and seeing all the posts marked with that descriptor).

The problem a lot of people run into is that they end up assigning too many tags to their posts. This defeats the purpose of tags. If you only end up with one or two posts with that tag, it hardly deserves its own “category.”

As mentioned, tags are somewhat like categories — but just a little more specific. For example, here at WPMU, we obviously don’t think the term “tags” is big enough or important enough for its own category. However, I am going to tag this post “tags” because it seems like an important enough/big enough topic that other posts will also touch on it some significant way.

I’m NOT, however, going to tag this post “merge tags.” That topic isn’t large enough to have a significant number of other posts that talk about that.

To be honest, I might have done that in the past, but we’ve come to realize it’s not really that valuable. And so we’re actually in the middle of cleaning up our “tag problem” by deleting many and merging the rest.

If you’ve got a tag problem too, read on.

How to Merge Your Tags

In order to help you merge your tags, I’m going recommend you use a plugin called Term Management Tools.

Once that’s installed, you’ll need to hop on over to your tag screen (Posts > Tags).

Get Rid of Unused Tags

Probably the very first thing you should do before you start merging is to start deleting. You may find a number of tags will be hard to merge with others. You might also find that somehow you’ve ended up with tags that aren’t assigned to any post at all.

On your tag page, if you click on the “Posts” link on the right, it will arrange your tags by the number of times they’re assigned to a post. I’d start by checking the box for all the ones that say “0” and then using the pull-down menu at the top and deleting them.

Get Rid of “Difficult” Tags

You can then start looking down through your other tags and seeing if there are any you know you can delete right away – i.e. tags that not many posts use and that will be difficult to merge with others. Again, the best candidates here will be the ones that are assigned to only a few posts.

As before, check the box next to the name of the tag, and then use the pull-down menu at the top.

If you have a large number of tags, you may want to increase the number you can see on one screen by pulling down the Screen Options panel at the top and bumping that number up.

Merge Remaining Tags

Assuming you’ve got the Term Management Tools plugin active, you can now get to merging your tags.

Go through your remaining list and check all those that should be merged together into one term.

In my example, I am checking the tag “blue” and the tag “blue things.” From the pull-down menu at the top, I choose “Merge.”

When I choose “Merge,” another box appears just to the right of the pull-down menu. I simply write the name of the tag both of those tags will be merged into. In my case, I’m writing in the name “blue.” But you don’t have to write the name of an existing tag here. You can write the name of a completely new tag.

Click “Apply,” and your tags will be merged.

If you have a lot of tags, this process may take a while, but it will be worth it in the end. It will be better for your users, and you can give up the tag addiction that so many of us are afflicted with.

(Note: Once the job is done, you can delete this plugin from your site. No use keeping unused plugins around.)

Photo: Red Tag from BigStock