Comment on Duplicate Content and Canonical URLs by Mark.
As stated, last week after reading your article to change my navigation structure from hundreds of tags and categories to about ten well planned categories. The result was the elimination of over a thousand tags, yes more than 1000 tag pages on my websites in aggregate.
I did this all on my own accord because I was thinking you are right. Why would a user need that many tag pages. They were created as a few years ago when I was operating under the SEO idea that, “semantic related links” produced by tags in WordPress, would help on-site factors.
I think it did, however, I have to weigh this all now against ‘is it useful to the users’ SEO idea. I think now having one category and five tags per post, are not as useful as having one well thought out category match that the user might explore. Rather as you correctly stated focus on building content of greater quality and length better than on-site factors as your WordPress theme seems to take care of a lot of on-site in proper measure.
Another thing you wrote somewhere on your website was what use to work before Google Panda still works. So it does not hurt to have semantic text in your posts and keywords, just make sure that this does not violate the SEO principle of usefulness to the reader.
As a side note, I do tend to think super comments also helps duplicate content as the structure of these pages created are a big different than the rest of the website usually and if they are well written by users they have little SEO in mind and hence rank on long tail keywords you might not expect.
The other thing about Panda which I keep getting back to is you are right. The Web is filled with misinformation about SEO. SEO misinformation replicates and spreads until many are building their websites off of it. Reading forums on SEO are good but staying objective and separating the wisdom from the hype is hard.
I will be very curious to see if my tag zapping experiment will help with Google Panda. For sure I have to strive to improve the quality of my pages as always.
I also want to diversify my traffic sources as I believe one of the ironies of Panda is Google ranks websites that have high direct traffic or traffic not just from SERPs. I need to think of how I can diversify traffic sources. Social media is good everyone says, but you know how this is.
I am looking into more videos and ways to increase direct traffic. I am thinking for direct traffic it is helped by having a quality product to offer. This will also push one’s site up in organic search, post-panda.