Tag clouds explained
A tag cloud, also known as a “word cloud” or “weighted list,” is a visual representation of how popular or present certain keywords or “tags” are in different blog posts. Tag clouds are assigned manually to each post by the author of the blog; they are NOT automatically applied contrary to what one might think.
Your tag cloud options & how to install
Below are some examples of tag clouds that vary greatly in visual implementation and can be installed through your WordPress plugins page by clicking Add New button and searching for the name of plugin below.
Default Tag Cloud (comes with WordPress):
Click the image below to view this in action – scroll down to left side of page to see.
Customization of Default Tag Cloud:
Click below to view this tag cloud in action (in right sidebar of website). This requires a CSS programmer to tweak the default WordPress tag cloud feature to give your tags a different background with rounded corners.
3D Tag CLoud:
This interactive, animated tag created with HTML5 (not Flash) cloud plugin gives life to your tags. View Plugin Details »
Ultimate Tag Cloud:
This highly-customizable tag cloud plugin offers different colors and sizes for your tags. View Plugin Details »
The difference between a tag cloud and a category?
Well, they both serve the same purpose — to help your readers quickly locate the posts related to the most important information/keywords more easily. To explain the difference between the two, let’s say your website or blog is like a recipe book. Categories are like the chapters of your recipe book while tag clouds are like the index of your recipe book where you can look up where certain food ingredients (keywords or tags) can be found within different recipes (posts). Chapters give a short, generalized description of their contents while the index contains the actual words or subjects found within the chapters of the book.
Checkout our own categories vs. tag cloud to your left as a live example i.e. there are bits and pieces of social media keywords within our own tags (facebook, twitter, LinkedIn) whereas we have an overarching category called Web Marketing & Social Media.
Tag clouds and SEO content
Tag clouds became very popular on websites and blogs after being utilized by companies such as Flickr and Technorati. However, overuse of tag clouds can result in “keyword stuffing” which can hurt your search engine ranking so be sure to have a clear plan of what you want your categories and tag clouds to be or just use ONE OR THE OTHER at first and branch out to using BOTH as your blog and ideas grow. You may find the video below from Google SEO guru, Matt Cutts, to be helpful in explaining this a bit more.
So like many things in life, tag clouds can be perfectly healthy when used in moderation, but don’t go overboard. If you need one-on-one help with figuring how to create your tag cloud, please contact us.