I am sure you know enough about me and my blog to know that I am a big fan of high search engine ranking optimization.
So when Google tells me “Do this and you’ll improve your ranking“, I do it. When it says “Well, maybe not the best idea (wink, wink)”, I stay away from it.
Today’s post is about one of those things that Google told me not to do on my blog. I want to make sure that you don’t do it on yours either.
A tag cloud or word cloud is a visual depiction of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, typically used to describe the content of web sites. Tags are usually single words and are normally listed alphabetically, and the importance of a tag is shown with font size or color. Thus, it is possible to find a tag alphabetically and by popularity. The tags are usually hyperlinks that lead to a collection of items that are associated with a tag. (Wikipedia)
Let me have you watch a video Matt Cutts recently posted on the topic and then I’ll tell you what I think about it.
***Side note on the video: notice how I embedded the video – if you click on it, it won’t take you to YouTube like on most other blogs. Why is it important? I don’t want to risk using your attention to YouTube. Do you want to learn this trick and other YouTube emded code tips? Check out these 2 posts:
Now back to tag clouds.
Here’s what Matt Cutts is saying here:
1. Can tag clouds be overdone? Yes, they can. Too many tags can look like keyword stuffing.
2. Whether it’s big or small, they are still links, and your page rank will be leaking from your main page to the tag pages. It’s smarter to have your page rank flow to your individual posts rather than tag pages.
3. Matt himself doesn’t use tag cloud, rather categories. (that’s a biggie!)
4. Users tend to not use tag clouds much.
Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:
5. Duplicate content issue.
I am not talking about the kind of duplicate content that most people usually think of – you post your article on more than one site, and you’d get penalized for duplicate content. That’s hogwash. Read more on this issue on Josh Garcia’s blog The Mystery of Google Duplicate Content Penalty.
The duplicate content that you should pay attention to is creating many ways to get to the same content on your blog.
For instance, you can get to the same post through post URL, category URL, archive URL, possibly through your home page, etc plus now through tag page URL. THAT’S what creates duplicate content issue on your blog, because to Google all these URLs mean separate pages and what does it find on all these separate pages? The same content!
6. It can possibly negatively affect your bounce rate – my personal opinion.
When you give your visitor too many ways to go from your home page, what do they choose to do? That’s right, NOTHING.
Tag clouds can look confusing, obtrusive, and overwhelming = visitor leaves.
Instead, channel them to your best content through clear set navigation and forget about tag clouds.
This is a clear case of MORE IS LESS as far as I am concerned.
There are too many possible disadvantages to using tag clouds and benefits?… I am yet to come up with any.
Disagree? Good. Let me know in the comments.
Agree? Feel free to praise me in the comments as well.
Either way, let’s make some noise and get some discussion going. And please don’t forget to use those Twitter, Facebook, etc. buttons!