The Role of Tag Clouds in Today’s SEO
Talking about tag clouds feels like I’ve gone back through time and ended up in 2007. Yes, that was when all the hype was about tag clouds and how to use them in the right way. Well, it’s not that simple today, although most tag cloud plugins are now search engine friendly, people tend to go for the more appealing look that has no positive effect on their websites or blogs. Why, well let’s explain what tags are and how we can benefit from them.
A tag is basically a popular word, a popular term that is used on your website frequently. We could see tags at Del.icio.us at first, after that we all got hooked once we figured out that we can benefit from them. Basically tagging is good for internal linking and also improving keyword relevance (without the fear of keyword stuffing – if you know what you are doing). But for the average user they cause more noise and problems than they help. Don’t get me wrong, there is a role that tag clouds can play that is beneficial for us, but you need to know how to leverage your cloud the right way.
The first rule is don’t over-tag your blog or website. Yeah, most people go crazy with tagging, which can lead to keyword and link cannibalisation, this way you will dilute the value of your keywords, basically, you might be seen as a spammer easily. So it is very important to keep track of the most important tags and use them for the right pages moderately.
If you over-tag your pages with similar terms it will lead to confusion and too much noise on your website. Terms like advertise-advertising and similar variations can create problems for you. This is especially the case if the pages they lead to, if properly tagged, are not that relevant. Some people tend to tag all of their posts with their main keyword, which simply doesn’t make sense.
Yeah, you will get a big tag in your tag cloud and it will drive users towards that keyword, but if the pages aren’t that relevant because you overused the tag both search engines and users will devalue that keyword as not that important, and you don’t want to do that.
The proper way of tagging is using clear and precise tags for each post, but only relevant ones. Using regular HTML plugins for tag clouds as well, if you use great looking flash clouds you won’t get the same SEO effect. On the other hand most SEOs place nofollow on their tags today or remove them from the site in full. This is because of duplicate content issues. You can solve that by making sure that the pages linked by tag clouds consist of links and excerpts and not full posts.
In my own opinion you don’t need tags as much as some people like to say. They are not that helpful, with proper navigation, content optimisation, internal linking and breadcrumbs you have more than needed to let Google know what your website is about and which keywords matter, and also help your users navigate through the site with ease. So the role of tag clouds today, well, not as important as we thought it was a few years back.
Alex Petrovic – Dejan SEO company
Link building team leader