New Tag Cloud at Search Engine Roundtable: Should Tag Clouds be Blocked from Search Engines?

May 17, 2007 • 7:31 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization
 

This past Sunday I launched a new element for locating content at the Search Engine Roundtable, I launched the Search Engine Roundtable Tag Cloud.

Ever since we upgraded to the new version of Movable Type, which supported tags, I have been tagging my content. I figured after I had enough tagged content, I would then launch a tag cloud. I did that this week. We currently have have almost 900 different unique tags. I tried to limit the tags to display only if there are two or more articles tagged with the tag, but I was unable to get that working.

In any event, we have 900 or so more ways to find content on the site. It has expanded our category archives tremendously, and also gave us a visual understanding of the most popular topics covered here. The larger the font of the tag, the more times we wrote about that topic.

A timely Cre8asite Forums thread asks;

I am doing a bit of development recently and part of which is going to be creating a tag cloud for a personal app... I was thinking about Blogs in general, and the amount of duplicate content they can produce with things like tag clouds etc...

Do you think adding rel="nofollow" to all the links in the clould would be a good move?

This individual is concerned that a tag cloud will generate duplicate content. My concern was that Google does not like to index search results pages. Are tag pages search results pages?

I spoke with some high profile people (not at Google) and they were confident that tags are not search results, but they are category pages. Even more so, only authors can tag the content here, so it is fairly structured, if we can call tags structured. So I personally decided to enable Google and other search engines to crawl and index the tag cloud and tag landing pages. The tag cloud not only is a benefit to my readers but can help searchers find the results they are looking for.

Bill Slawski added an excellent point about nofollowing internal links:

I don't like the use of the nofollow value for internal links within a site. If a search engine uses "nofollow" in a link as a sign of distrust, then there's the potential to harm your site by using a rel="nofollow" within a link.

So in our case, we left it open. Enjoy our new Search Engine Roundtable Tag Cloud.

Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.

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Comments:

Andy Beal

05/17/2007 02:24 pm

We've had a tag cloud for 6 months and I haven't seen any negatives to it.

Chris

05/17/2007 02:35 pm

If you were going to block it from SEs the appropriate way, since it is your own site, would be robots.txt or meta robots, not nofollow.

Barry Schwartz

05/17/2007 02:40 pm

Andy, I know, but makes for a good forum discussion... Chris, I suspect robots.txt tags/ directory would be the easiest.

Lea de Groot

05/21/2007 03:08 am

I tend to use a meta solution and noindex *follow* pages I don't want to appear in the index. Follow my lovely links around my site! but Don't sent visitors to low value pages! is my mantra :) Using a rel=nofollow attribute would be the antithesis of this - in fact I *never* nofollow internal links. But, in this specific case, I think tag pages would be great search result landing pages, although it would be even better if you could get the minimum number thing working :)

Jeremy

06/28/2007 11:43 pm

I use MT 3.35 and am trying out tags. I'm wondering, though, if search engines can follow the tag links due to the fact that they're formatted as such: http://www.nameofwebsite.com/cgi-bin/movabletype/mt-search.cgi?tag=tagname&blog_id=1&IncludeBlogs=1 Can search engines crawl past that "?" in the URL of the tag link?

Barry Schwartz

06/29/2007 12:05 am

They can but why not rewrite them to look cleaner?

Jeremy

06/30/2007 03:02 am

How would I rewrite them? .htaccess? I'm not that familiar with those. Any pointers? Thanks!

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