Guest article by Mr.Amit Banerjee from Ampercent. This is a gift for all our readers on account of our 3rd anniversary celebrations.
If you write a blog, a tag cloud can be very useful when you want your readers to push through the different sections of your website. There can be a lot of topics on which you write about and a tag cloud is one of the best ways to organize the content and help the user to easily navigate within your site.
For example: If you write a blog on Blogging and have around 500 posts, it’s not possible to link to all the popular posts from every single page. Rather you can tag your blog posts according to keywords and display a list of tags on your sidebar so that readers can click through them to read the content they are looking for.
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On the user perspective, the tag cloud may or may not be useful. This depends on who the readers of your site are and what type of content you write. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before giving the tag cloud a permanent position in your blog template:
Do my readers use the Tag cloud?
If your readers are not using the tag cloud, the original purpose is defeated. You should dig down in your web analytics logs to find out how many pageviews or impressions the tag pages receives a month. By analyzing the ratio, you will be able to figure out whether the users are actually going to the Tag pages or not
For example: Keep the tag cloud in the footer of your template for two weeks and track the results. Then move the tag cloud to the top of the sidebar and track, you have to play with the positions to find out what works best for your site.
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From the Search Engine Perspective
But if you think from the search engine perspective, a tag cloud can sometimes have a negative impact on your rankings.
On the eyes of the search bots, a tag cloud is nothing but a list of links. When you display a very large number of tags in your blog template, the bots may sometime consider it as “Keyword Stuffing”. This is because a tag cloud consists of arbitary words which may or may not have any relation to the blog post in question.
For example: let’s say I am reading a post on “How to make money blogging”. The user in this case is interested in keywords like Making money, blogging, earning online etc. When the bots read that page and find a list of irrelevant tags e.g Nokia, iPhone they will think that the blogger is trying to stuff the page with words which are “not related” to the content of the current page.
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So if you really want to show the Tag cloud in your blog template, here are a few things you should know:
# 1. Don’t overdo
If you use only a few important tags on your blog template , it’s fine. Thus if you have 800 tags on your website, you can find the most popular tags and display the top 30 as a list in the sidebar. Google suggests that you should keep the number of links on a webpage below 100.
Don’t overkill by displaying all the tags or say 200 tags in the sidebar. This will really harm your rankings.
# 2. Control Distribution of Pagerank with Rel=”nofollow”
A search bot crawls different webpages via links. So if a Page A links to page B which in turn links to page C, the page rank is going to flow from A > B >C. Now suppose you have a large number of tags in all the pages of your site. In this case, the overall page rank of your pages are getting distributed to the tag pages.
You should control this flow of page rank with “Rel=nofollow”. It would be even better if you dump those wordpress plugins and create a manual list of tags yourself.
# 3. Avoid “Phrase Clouds”
Some bloggers have the habit of using phrases as tags for their blog posts. This should be avoided at all costs
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For example: If your post is about Google Chrome, it’s advised to tag it as “Google Chrome” or “Chrome”. The wrong way is to tag the post with phrases like “Download Google Chrome”, “Google Chrome Beta”, “Google Chrome 3.1″ and so on.
These phrases should appear in the content of your blog post and not as tags. The bots can tell what your page is all about, you don’t have to add a ton of “Phrase Tags” for more traffic.
In the following video, Google Engineer Matt Cutts offers some nice tips on working with Tag clouds:
Do you use Tag clouds on your blog ? Please share your ideas and thoughts on the comments section.