Tag Spamming Is Not a Best Practice

*** Originally posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ***

This weekend I attended the BlogHer conference in San Francisco. There was lots of talk about traffic to blogs, and what you can do to increase readership, and generally promote your blog. Most of advice made sense, but there was one thing mentioned that got my blood boiling.

I was in a session on DIY Content Syndication and Promotion, and one of the audience members asked how you could use tags to help with promotion. One of the speakers, I don't remember which one, advised that the best way to use tags is think of the most general topic you post is about and tag with that. Also, if you are commenting on someone else's post or video, you should copy all of their tags and add a few of your own.

Um... excuse me? Sure, that's best practice if you want to add tag spam, water down results and piss off people when they come to your post only to find that you are tangentially related to the topic they are interested in. Remember, it was this broad spectrum, shotgun approach to tagging that taught search engines they couldn't rely on the keywords metadata field..

The rules for tagging are very simple:

  1. Tag only significant mentions.
  2. Tag at the level the item is about.
  3. Use one tag per concept.

I like to use this rule of thumb to check to see if the tags I've chosen are accurate: If I did a search for the tag I'm considering, would I be happy getting this post/image/content item? If the answer is no, I drop that tag.

Following these rules to tagging insure that your tags are appropriate for your post/image/content item. Targeted tags help ensure that recall as well as precision are high. You want the folks who are interested in your specific topic to find your thing. If you are talking about the giant green dinosaur with glowing red eyes in South Dakota, you don't want to tag your post with general terms like "United States" or "statues." Better choices would be "Wall South Dakota," "dinosaur statue," "glowing red eyes," and "kitschy roadside attractions."

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This page contains a single entry by Chiara published on July 21, 2008 11:46 AM.

BlogHer and the Explosion in My Head was the previous entry in this blog.

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