Topics, Tagging and SEO Guidelines

What is Topic Taxonomy and Tagging?

Taxonomy refers to a catalog of assets that helps producers, stations, and PBS organize and filter content and allows users to easily discover sites and features. Tags serve as a flexible third and fourth level of the taxonomy for producers, stations, and PBS to filter closely-related content. Tagging is an essential step if you want your content to be easily discovered and search engine optimized.

The goals of the PBS topic taxonomy and tagging guidelines are to unify PBS producer and member station content across Project Merlin, COVE, and

 (info) To learn how to assign topics and tags view Assigning Topics & Tags.


Tagging Guidelines

  1. Focus on audience interest. Imagine yourself as a visitor while selecting relevant terms of interest that will drive traffic.
  2. Tag ideas, concepts, locations, and events, however nebulous or concrete.
  3. Tag important company and brand names, especially when it's the theme.


Tagging Style Guidelines



  • Follow a parent/child hierarchy consistent with the PBS taxonomy.
  • Start from the end point - what will people be looking for - and work back to create a bridge between your keyword(s) and the PBS Taxonomy. This helps ensure maximum flexibility, and also allows you to define the largest reasonable number of displayed filters.EXAMPLE: If the content is from NOVA's episode on Cuttlefish (which aren't actually fish) follow this tagging convention: PBS Taxonomy: Science & Nature/Animals/Hierarchical tags: mollusks, octopus, squid, cuttlefish
  • Use at least 3 tags per Web content/video, but include salient terms within reason.
  • Be consistent. EXAMPLE: If the word "biotechnology" is used as a tag, it should always be tagged as such, rather than  "biotech" on occasion.
  • Use nouns when possible. EXAMPLE: Prefer "stupidity" to "stupid", and "developer" or "development" (depending on the context) over "develop."
  • Use a plural base because they are generally more aligned with the way video content is searched.
  • Always use lower case letters.
  • Use only spaces and hyphens as punctuation to separate words or common phrases.
  • Do not use misleading or irrelevant tags.EXAMPLE: Don't tag your content with a person's name that is not featured or talked about in your video just to draw people to your content.
  • Search engines are very sensitive to duplication so don’t duplicate words. Only use one variation of a tag. EXAMPLE: If you use "invitation" don't use "invite" as well.
  • Avoid or limit abbreviations unless they are universally recognized as a brand (like IBM or HP).


Metadata Strategy and SEO

Metadata must be carefully used to ensure content is found and appropriately organized. Merlin employs a multifaceted approach that involved both producer-driven editorial tagging and automated semantic interrogation of content, including:

  • Content taxonomy
  • Editorial keywords
  • Regions (states)
  • Geotags

Every piece of content will be assigned to at least one node of the PBS content taxonomy. Moreover, the importance of writing is not merely for users but for search engines. All titles and descriptions must be SEO-friendly: they should contain clear, keyword-rich copy that will help users find content through search.