Why Creating Tag Clouds May Be Harmful To SEO

by Richard Petrillo on July 8, 2013

Creating tag clouds has long been thought to be beneficial for a websites SEO.

creating tag clouds

Although, recently Matt Cutts explains the possible negative effect tag clouds can have on your sites PageRank. See more from Matt Cutts here: Google Webmasters.

If you are new to blogging, tag clouds are typically found on the sidebar of a website. They create a visual image which represents the most popular content based on keywords most often used.

The more a keyword is used throughout a site, the larger that tag will appear in the  tag cloud. As you can see in the picture above, Internet Marketing is larger than all other tags, letting you know at a glance what the main focus of the website is about.

Simply put, a tag cloud is a grouping of keywords which are external hyperlinks on your site. If you click on a tag it will take you to the group of articles pertaining to that keyword. (or tag)

~ Disadvantage of Creating Tag Clouds

Ah, but here is where the trouble can begin! Too many of these tags, (links) can look like keyword stuffing to Google. As mentioned earlier, a tag cloud resides on the sidebar and that cluster of links will show up on every page. This may be confusing to the bot crawling your site and end up classifying the cloud as spam.

You can decide for yourself after watching Matt’s video if cloud tags are a good or bad idea. Personally, my take away from the video is, the smaller the cloud tag the better.

~ Alternatives to Creating Tag Clouds

1. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – This is a great little free plugin you can download if you’re using a WordPress site. As you can see, based on the keywords used in the article, YARPP adds a list of related posts as a hyperlink and the end of the article,  making it easy for your reader to view similar posts. This is not listed in the sidebar and therefore won’t show up everywhere throughout the site.

related MLM posts

2. WordPress Popular Posts – Another free WP Plugin which is displayed in the sidebar shows your most popular posts. You can configure it to show as many posts as you want. Again, I would keep this number to a minimum, 6 or 7 max. It can also be configured to show the number of views or comments left on each post.

Tag Cloud popular posts

3. Category Pages – Clickable keywords in a list form showing the number of pertaining posts.

category pages

Oddly enough I ran across an article on using Google Analytics data to build Keyword Tag Clouds for your website. I thought you might find it interesting.

Conclusion: 

It seems Matt’s overall tone leans on the negative side, but In the end, creating tag clouds is a personal preference.

Richard Petrillo

Richard Petrillo

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 So what do you think? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on creating tag clouds. Are you using one?

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Petrillo February 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Hi Sunil,

Duplicate pages is another great point. Thanks for adding to the article. I believe showing related posts with a plugin is far more valuable.
Have a great week!

RichardP

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Richard Petrillo November 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Hey Maya,

I agree, depending on the site and how many tags, you’re right! I for one have decided not to use them anymore. Judging from Matt Cutts video, it just makes sense for me. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject! Thanks again for stopping by!

RichardP

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Richard Petrillo October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

Hey Christina,
Thanks for stopping by.
I agree Christina, the wrong tags are far more harmful than no tags. Personally I am not using tag clouds right now but used in moderation it may be fine.

Thanks again,
Richard P

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Richard Petrillo October 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

You’re welcome Claudia!

I don’t think you have anything to worry about as long as the website you are linking to is relevant to yours.

Are you using a plugin called “Broken Link Checker?” http://w-shadow.com/blog/2007/08/05/broken-link-checker-for-wordpress/
You are more at risk of Google penalizing you for having a lot of broken links on your site than you are linking to the same site a few times. I recently found this plugin and was amazed at how many broken links I had. It’s a free plugin and I highly recommend using it.
I hope this helps.
Have a great weekend!
RichardP

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Claudia Carbis September 30, 2013 at 2:45 am

Hi Richard,
Thanks for making aware about Creating Tag May Be Harmful To SEO but Richard, I request to you know one thing. Richard I have a WordPress Blog & I have given 4/5 back links to same a website so. I just need to know. Will This Google count it as Duplicate Links ?

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Christina Maria September 25, 2013 at 2:31 am

Hello Richard,
Thanks for sharing this new with us. I do see lot of people just Tag on many ways & I saw some article where it has mention that “Adding tag in SEO” is really important but when I came & read this article than I came to know yes adding wrong Tag may be very harmful for SEO.

Reply

Maya August 25, 2013 at 9:34 am


Twitter:
I guess you can take tag clouds either way, good or bad. I’ve used them on a few sites, but took them off because they had too many selections on them. I use a lot of tags on most pages of my sites and several sites have many hundreds of pages. In such a case it is too much to display all the tags.

Also I use a lot of phrases as my tags for longtail SEO purposes and many would not be good for a person looking for a general topic or category. Overall I refrain from using tag clouds but use tags a lot on my sites.
Maya recently posted..Best Money Making Guide to Start Your Online Home BusinessMy Profile

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Sunil Gupta July 22, 2013 at 3:52 am


Twitter:
I agree with you Rechard, using too much tags create keyword stuffing issues and even two many duplicate pages too :(

that’s why I never use tags because I don’t think it will help my visitors since wordpress have an option to show related post itself

So, bye to tags :)
Sunil Gupta recently posted..15 Bad Link Building Practices That Destroy Your Google RankingMy Profile

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Richard Petrillo July 16, 2013 at 9:18 am

Hey Clinton,

You’re welcome! Apology accepted.

Your comments and insight here offers my readers value, which is the ultimate goal. Thanks for providing so much detail! Its great to have both sides of the story presented, something I wasn’t able to offer in the article. I do hope most will read the comment section!

I haven’t read Animal Farm but it is now on the list!
Have a great week!

RichardP

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Clinton Gallagher July 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm


Twitter:
Its a good thing you have thick skin Richard so thank you for allowing the comments through. I apologize lumping you in with the other monkey see monkey do lemmings as you did clearly state “You can decide for yourself after watching Matt’s video if cloud tags are a good or bad idea. Personally, my take away from the video is, the smaller the cloud tag the better.”

That said, you have apparently fallen for the smaller the cloud the better bull-schtick. As it pertains to –our– interests its not quantity of links but quality of links that is most pertinent to word clouds.

A site with an extraordinarily large number of linked tags in a word cloud displayed on a page could simply be and usually is the result of frequent and prolific blogging with conscientious tagging of keywords chosen to establish the context of the article which has been blogged. Speaking in terms of computational linguistics we hear the results of this process described as semantics.

It is stunning to listen to this weasel Matt Cutts try to claim fewer links in a word cloud improve page rank when parsing the links is automated and tens of thousands of links can be processed in microseconds. People tend to avoid thinking about the facts that Google has data centers that literally contain thousands of servers that do nothing but these parsing tasks. There is another agenda which I will briefly explain.

As I stated Google is attempting to compel us to avoid the use of our own taxonomies, our own semantics and most importantly –our– own quantifiable results in –our– own best interest to –our– readers and –our– advertisers on –our– pages. In other words, Google is attempting to persuade you and I to stop calling a cow a cow without their approval and is now going as far as to threaten to penalize all who fail to comply. Ever read the book Animal Farm? Same thing going on here.

This becomes obvious when the nefarious liar Matt Cutts speciously claims word cloud tags are “arbitrary” when in fact choosing the words and terms to compose a tag is usually done carefully and thoughtfully by a person choosing which words and terms serve his or her best interests to describe the context of the article they blogged that the person believes will assist others to find the article when searching the web. Nothing arbitrary about that unless you are an insidious weasel with a hidden agenda.

Well Richard, we know what the hidden agenda is. As I presume you likely know Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been colluding with one another in an attempt to force us to adopt their own taxonomy documented at schema.org. They are failing at that endeavor so pop goes the weasel to threaten everybody instead of really getting to the facts of the matter.
Clinton Gallagher recently posted..Book Review – Responsive Web Design by ExampleMy Profile

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Richard Petrillo July 13, 2013 at 8:52 am

Hey Clinton,

Thank you for taking the time to set the record straight regarding Tag Clouds.

Obviously your years and experience as a developer carry far more weight than what I can offer. I decided to approve your comment so my readers can have a more balanced view on this subject.

I know I learned something here… Even though your attack on me and the “monkey see, monkey do, propaganda” comment was a bit out of line.

My goal here is to share information and help those looking to get started with Network and Online Marketing. Most are very new to the industry and blogging. I’m not an expert developer, just a guy out trying to educate himself.

Matt Cutts video on tag clouds seemed like useful information, especially for those just getting started. I’m sure you’ve seen tag clouds that are way over done with upwards of 75 or more tags. Those who don’t know about the rel=”nofollow” could definitely be hurt by setting up a new blog the wrong way.

As bitter as you may be with Google, and rightly so, fact is, they still control the game.

Thanks again for sharing!
RichardP

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Clinton Gallagher July 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm


Twitter:
Those of you who stated your preferences and misunderstandings are of course entitled to those opinions short sighted as they are.

Word Clouds are perhaps the most effective UX implementation in the history of the page itself. They rapidly convey immediate information consolidating what over time amounts to large taxonomies of scale assisting users to navigate to contextual relevance. All of us who are not monkey see monkey do parrots mindlessly repeating Content is King Content is King know from experience it is Context that is King and Content but a Prince in the kingdom.

What we are observing here is Google trying to force the web into its world view of the way things should be. If I may blow my own horn and say I am a seasoned developer and I know for a fact Google can easily determine what is a functional and legitimate word cloud and what are stuffed keywords. Furthermore, Google has shown time and time again they care nothing for assistive technologies which word clouds can support given a conscientious developer’s knowledge of coding a page.

For example a simple rel=”nofollow” is all it takes to resolve any concern about keyword stuffing. If and when that attribute is not used Google and other search services should by all means consider the words and terms as keyword stuffing. Other search services? Oh yea, being monkey see monkey do parrots most of you reading this terrible, terrible advice forgot about that eh? Repeat after me What Google claims must be gospel

I’m really disappointed to read and learn Richard Petrillo has become a monkey see monkey do parrot repeating and advocating this Google propaganda which only serves to help Google to destroy a meaningful user experience on the page.

Google hijacked and then corrupted the use of RSS and now they are after the UX within the page itself. The last thing people who use the WWW need is your tacit agreement to help them destroy the page and the user experience even further.
Clinton Gallagher recently posted..Book Review – Responsive Web Design by ExampleMy Profile

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Richard Petrillo July 12, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hey Mark,

I agree, they aren’t the most pleasing to the eye. From what I’ve been reading, less is more these days in the sidebar. I’ve even taken off most of the banner affiliate ads I use to have posted.

I just visited your site, you’ve got some great content, I look forward to reading more of your articles. Thanks for your input!

RichardP

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Mark Ford July 10, 2013 at 9:35 am

I’ve never seen the point in tag clouds anyway.

They don’t look particularly good and there are far better things to put in the sidebar of your Blog like email sign up boxes, links to other blog posts or embed social media sites.
Mark Ford recently posted..Why Links Remain Critical to SEO SuccessMy Profile

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