When I started writing online, I don’t know anything about tags and tag clouds.
Later, I learned that the articles and web contents that I was writing need to be tagged so that it could be searched and located easily.
Then, I knew that the group of tags that are displayed at a blog site’s sidebar or footer is called “tag cloud”.
What are “tags”?
Imagine yourself going to a department store to shop and buy clothing or any merchandise. For you get to find these items and know its price, you look through the product or price tags that are usually “tagged” or attached to the item.
The same principle applies to online writing and blogging. In order for readers to find your write up and get initial impression on what you wrote about, you need to generate tags and display these tags in the tag cloud.
The article “The Role of Tags in Information Retrieval Interaction” that Yong-Mi Kim of the School of Information, University of Michigan wrote, states:
“Tags are descriptive terms people attach to online content, either their own or other people; tagging is the practice of attaching tags. Tagging has been rapidly adopted on the Web, particularly by sites based on user-contributed content, such as blogs and photo sharing sites. According to these sites, tags make it easier to find tagged items later, make tagged items more findable by others, and also help organize collections of items.”
Facebook is one of the popular social media sites that uses photo tagging application to make it easy for friends and other people to share their uploaded photos.
What is a “tag cloud”?
By the phrase itself, you can easily say that a “tag cloud” is the collection of tags, which are grouped either alphabetically or randomly, with varying font sizes depending on the usage popularity of the particular tag.
A “tag cloud”, according to Wikipedia is “a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keyword metadata (tags) on websites, or to visualize free form text. ‘Tags’ are usually single words, normally listed alphabetically, and the importance of each tag is shown with font size or color. This format is useful for quickly perceiving the most prominent terms and for locating a term alphabetically to determine its relative prominence. When used as website navigation aids, the terms are hyperlinked to items associated with the tag.”
What is the value of “tags” and “tag cloud” to SEO?
Much has been said and written about “tags” and “tag cloud” as a search and navigational tool when you are browsing a particular site.
For example, when you are at a homepage of a blog and you noticed the tag cloud, which is usually positioned at the sidebar (sometimes at the site’s footer or bottom, too), click on any of the hyperlinked word or phrase. You will then be redirected to the blog site’s title or page where the tag was mentioned.
But the question of the day remains, what is the value of “tags” and “tag cloud” to search engine optimization?
Why should you display the tag cloud on your site, even if it gives some sort of cluttered appearance to your homepage and other pages?
I discovered that Google indexes the tags that are displayed in the tag cloud.
I accidentally learned this when I analyzed a jointly owned blog site that I haven’t touched for several months. Using Market Samurai as my website analysis tool, I was surprised to discover that the number of pages that Google indexed exceeded numerously the number of posts and media attachments that I uploaded to the site.
Sad to say, the domain of that blog expired and I can’t open it anymore to illustrate my discovery. I had this learning since last year and I have been aching to make a post about it. Nevertheless, I would always coach my clients to display their tags on their sites because doing so increases the number of pages that Google index.
To check whether or not this particular part of Google algorithm still exists, I started a new blog, “Central Philippine University” Blog on May 23, 2011, wrote a couple of posts and displayed the tags through the “tag cloud” widget.
Know the result of my curiosity test next post…