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Chapter
8

Select five tags to expand your article’s reach

In the last step, you drafted your perfect CTA and added it to your article. In the next two steps, you’re making sure the article and CTA end up in front of the eyes of your dream client. 

This step is all about tags. By the end, you’ll have five tags that fit your article and ensure the right reader sees it. 

How to pick your article tags to optimize your reach on Medium

On Medium, when you publish the article, you have the opportunity to add up to five tags.

When you publish an article, Medium uses various methods to distribute that article, like through your followers. Even if you don’t have any followers, Medium still shows your article to readers based on their interests (tags) and publications (which we’ll get into in the next step). 

Tags are similar to Instagram or Twitter hashtags. When someone signs up for Medium, they indicate their topics of interest. Medium uses those tags to show them content later on. Tags on Medium cover every imaginable topic, from Food to Aging to Data Science.

Tip: wondering if a particular tag exists on Medium? Just to go https://medium.com/tag/[tag]. For example, medium.com/tag/aging takes me to the Aging tag. 

You want to use all five tags that Medium allows you and make sure they’re the right five tags to reach the right readers.

Unhelpfully, Medium doesn’t have a place where all the tags are collected, so you'll have to do a bit of digging. Here are the steps to follow. I’m going to use my cheese example from earlier. 

Here’s a handy chart you can use to keep track of all your research:

Let’s say that in Step 6, I wrote an article about the best cheese for a charcuterie board, based on my research from Step 5.

Step 1. Research the broadest category you can think of that fits your article. 

In my case, it’s “food.”

Type your broad category into Medium’s search bar. In the top right corner of the results, you should see a heading called “Related Topics.” Click on your search term.

This takes you to the page for that tag. Here, you can see:

  • How many stories have been tagged with that tag.

  • How many authors have at least one story with that tag.

  • Related topics.

Tip: If you do this on mobile, you’ll see how many followers that topic has! For example, I can see that “Food” has 1.4 million followers. That’s a lot! 

If you can’t find any good ones, check out the list of articles recently written in your chosen tag. Pick the article closest to the article you just wrote. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see which five tags the author chose. 

Step 2. Repeat the process for two other, narrower tags

In my case, I might do the same for “cheese” and maybe “hosting.”

Note how many stories have been published with that tag, how many followers that tag has, how many authors use that tag, and any related topics you think might be a good fit.

Step 3. Select five tags.

Based on your information, you should have a shortlist of tags. Here’s how you’ll narrow down the process.

You want two broad tags and three niche tags. This ensures you get the best of both worlds: a wide range of potential readers, as well as hyper-selected readers who are interested in what you have to say.

Broad tag selection

Select your two broad tags based on the follower-to-author ratio. For example: 

  • The “food” tag has a follower-to-author ratio of 1.4 million followers to 86 thousand authors, which breaks down to about 16 followers per author. The “recipe” tag has 128k followers and 14.4k authors. That’s a ratio of around nine readers per author. 

  • The “health” tag has a ratio of around 10 readers per author. 

Formula: Calculate [Number of followers]/[Number of authors]. This will give you the number of readers per author in each tag.

Pick two with the highest follower-to-author ratio, which will help you stand out among other writers. 

There’s no real benchmark of what’s “good” or “bad” – it’s specific to your article’s topic. Collect the data on many possible broad tags and compare them to each other. 

Niche tag selection

For your niche tags, pick the three that are the closest match to your topic as long as they have 100 or more followers. 

That may feel like a small number, but you only need one person to read that article, and love it, if they’re the right person!

Add five tags to your story

Now it’s your turn. When you write your article, hit the “publish” button. Don’t worry, it won’t be published yet! This will just give you the chance to add the five tags you’ve selected.

Recall: Which five did you pick? 

Recap

In this step, you did some math and picked the five best tags to showcase your story. In the next step, we’ll be looking at which publications are the best home for your article. 

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