Should I Use Tag Clouds on my Website and Why?

Tag Clouds… don’t know what they are? They are the lists of words or short phrases that seem to be on all the busiest websites, displayed in different sizes and sometimes different colours. Still no idea? Like this:

 A Multi-Coloured Tag Cloud
A Multi-coloured tag cloud

This one is from the publishing site MagicOxygen.co.uk. They are created by your website software (WordPress for example) listing all the tags you have typed into your posts along with how often you have used them, and the ones used more often get bigger type whilst the ones less used are smaller. Note that this is from the tags you have typed into your blog posts, so it is up to you to make them meaningful and useful. Search companies won’t really take much note of them… they will record them as links and will record the text of them as being on your post, but they will not improve the place of your page in search results.

So why are they so common? Many websites have these simply because the developer added them, without any thought as to why they are there. The purpose of them is to guide readers of a single article to other articles with similar topics, and to let the reader know the sort of things you write about. If your blog has a tag cloud (or if you want one) then when you type your post think carefully about what your reader might want to know about your post’s content.

So what are categories? http://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/categories-vs-tags/ says that categories are an older way of classifying your content and can work in harmony with tags if you choose. The important difference is that every post has to have a category, even if it is just the default and American spelling “Uncategorized”. Some people advise that a post should have 5-15 tags… I would say it should have 0-15 and only you can decide what is the right number.

TAG… you’re it!

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