Use your tag cloud wisely, grasshopper

What is a tag cloud?

It’s a real-time snapshot: a visual representation of the relative density of blog post tags. There’s one in my sidebar, bottom right.

What do I do with my tag cloud?

Use it to spot trends. A tag cloud is a brilliantly simple way to see emerging patterns in your blog that you’d never otherwise identify without time consuming, complex analysis.

If you’re using your blog for content marketing and SEO, your top key phrases should be prominent in your tag cloud. As a freelance writer I expect to see the phrase ‘copywriting’ large and bold in mine. If it slips, I notice and do something about it.

Handily, the tag cloud directly reflects my efforts to get back on track, in real time. I always know where I’m at. And search engines know how to classify, rate and rank my blog. Human visitors find tag clouds useful too because they tell people – at a glance – whether they’ve found what they’re looking for.

One thing: don’t go too mad putting the same old keywords in your tags or your cloud will look boring. It’s a balancing act, as always, between giving search engines what they need and making the visitor experience as interesting and relevant as possible.

It’s obviously worth putting some thought into tags, for the benefit of visitors and search engines. If you haven’t got in the habit of attributing tags to posts, back-track and add them. And keep it up.

How do I get a tag cloud on my blog?

If your blog runs on WordPress you should be able to drag and drop a tag cloud widget into your sidebar that’ll populate itself. If you’re not using WP, no problem. All good blog platforms offer the option.