How Does A Tag Cloud Affect A WordPress Site’s SEO?

September 14, 2012 · 16 comments

in WordPress

How Does A Tag Cloud Affect A WordPress Site’s SEO?

Does A Tag Cloud 
Help or Hinder SEO?

Tag Clouds, those floating balls of blobs of links from various areas of the blog, are a common question asked about by WordPress bloggers. 

Some tag clouds have fancy animations and float/spin while others are little more than a glorified link-list. 

Because they are functionally clickable, we can guarantee that they factor into an SEO calculation… so let’s see what Google’s SEO pro, Matt Cutts has to say about them: 

I have been making use of a tag cloud for some time… but only after careful consideration of what Matt had to say. 

He specifically reminded us to avoid fancy animations (which is fine since almost all of them break on mobile anyways so we don’t want to be using them) and to not display too many links. 

A tag cloud, done right, is a glorified menu bar… and that reference can help you keep in mind that you shouldn’t put 100 links in one poor little menu bar!

The goal of your tag cloud is really to point your audience to tags that will interest them, thus pulling them deeper into your content.  You do this by focusing on items you have created lots of content for… rather than on trying to display all three hundred bazillion tags on your blog. 

Tags are an important piece of SEO yet that doesn’t mean we want them all showing up at once! ;)

Because Matt has repeatedly stressed that we need to focus on the reader before SEO elements, for me, a tag cloud was a logical choice as (once set up right) it makes it easier for my visitor to find what they are looking for. 

If you’re going to use a tag cloud, you need one that allows you to meet these goals. I’ll show you what I’m using in the next post, so stay tuned!

Do you use a tag cloud? Do you click on tag clouds on sites you visit? What makes a good or bad tag cloud in your opinion? 

~ Kim ~
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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Aditi Datta September 14, 2012 at 7:13 am

Hi Kim,
Thanks for providing this information on Tag Cloud. It’s really interesting. Even I like watching the video that you have uploaded. Thanks for the share!!

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Thomas September 14, 2012 at 7:40 am

Hi Kim
It is always nice to get tips from Matt himself. I have had one of these fancy fun animated Tag Cloud on my blog a while ago, but have removed it again. I do however have a categories list that is pretty much the same I think.

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Marius September 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

Yes I am doing the same on my blog. I am dividing my posts into only few big categories as it is not necessary to have lots of them. And what about tag cloud I don’t see any pros about it at all…

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Joe September 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

Fascinating! Thanks for posting this Kim. I removed my tag cloud recently as I thought was getting pretty big and wondered if anybody used it (or knew what it was). Now I’m glad I did :)

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Bharat September 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks for this useful article. I’m not displaying tag cloud on my blog and seems like I took a good decision.

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Rebekah Radice September 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

This was super timely for me Kim. I was just wondering yesterday whether a tag cloud was even relevant anymore. I have gone back and forth for years over whether or not I wanted the tag cloud, but listening to Matt and reading your article puts it into a completely different perspective. As always, thank you!!
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Jens P. Berget September 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I’m not using a tag cloud, the reason I’m not is probably because I never click on them. I didn’t know about the SEO benefits or the negative impact it can have.

Thanks Kim :)

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Nick Catricala September 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Hello Kim,
I wish I could write you a great comment to let you know how helpful you have been with this post.. but I cannot, why? (you already know, yes, my small handicap of understanding tech stuff and getting distracted and not bein able to follow simple directions.. BUT I like to let you know I read and watched the video of Matt Cutts.. I did my best so far… reading was already something I would not do… but because I know your intentions are noble to teach or share great things to others… I put my self into it.

I must say that teh second time around (watching the video) I start to pick up a little here and there… so if nothing lese, I like to share with you that finaly I got to read something that I normally would just skip haha :-0

Thanks for sharinga nd thanks for all you do to make complicated things seam easy.
best of everything.
nickc
Nick Catricala invites you to read…InnerVeritasMy Profile

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firdosh joy September 15, 2012 at 2:29 am

Hey Kim , I am again on this awesome blog and again i learnt some new tips. I am using the inbuilt tag cloud widgets from wordpress and i think this is helpful. I completely agree with you that we should not use animated tag cloud because it can affect negatively to our blog. Anyways thanks Kim for just an informative post

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Carolyn September 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Hi Kim, This was very helpful information. One of the very first plugins I started with was an animated tag cloud where the tags float around in a circle. The plugin was entertaining but worse than useless. The tags were hard to click on because they moved so quickly and the animation used up a lot of bandwidth.

I have a new tag cloud in my footer now that is much more effective. I had no idea it was good for SEO. Yea!

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Jordan September 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm

You know kim, I have actually heard different accounts of a keyword cloud hurting your SEO efforts. I think alot of people who implement them risk over-optimizing their keywords especially if that keyword is prevalent throughout the page.

My advice make sure your keyword density is like 2% or below, before you throw one on a blog.

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Kim Castleberry September 22, 2012 at 5:53 am

I definitely agree with you on controlling for keyword density Jordan. However, keeping it 2% or less really is good SEO advice at this time anyways. This is also why I use a reasonably wide diversity of tags so that it’s actually more likely to cause density dilution than a density increase.
Kim

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Michael September 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Thank you for this post, Kim. I have never had a tag cloud because I just don’t see things that way and I don’t make any connection between them and something that I need to find on the site. And truth be told, I really don’t like things that move on a page or follow me around.

I know a lot of people like animated stuff, but to me it is a hindrance because I can’t stop looking at i when it moves and they are almost never what it is I want to do when I am on a site.

But after reading this, I am going to re-evaluate adding a static tag cloud to my site. Thank you, for sure. :-)

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Julieanne van Zyl September 25, 2012 at 5:57 am

Hi Kim, I like the way you have your cloud tag in the footer widget. Some of the cloud tags on other blogs are quite obtrusive, yours looks nice and neat. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on anyone else’s tags, I prefer to type in the search box, to find what I want.
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Mandy Swift October 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

hi Kim, what a great little video to dig out and post for us, thanks :)
From what you were saying about ‘controlling’ you tag cloud, does that mean you can choose to show some tags and hide others? Otherwise, I agree, tag clouds can look decidedly messy :)

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Cristina Gil April 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

Hi Kim! just the answer I was looking for :)

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