Google SEO Tip#8: Do Tag Clouds Help or Hinder SEO?
Matt Cutts: The thing to think about first off is what a tag cloud is. Typically you might have a blog or something like that and then over here in the right-hand sidebar or over on the left sidebar you’ll see a whole bunch of different tags that have been used to mark the different blog posts. And sometimes the tags are a little bigger if they have been used more or sometimes they are a little smaller.
So, what is a tag cloud? Well, typically that’s really just a list of links. Now , can tag clouds be overdone? Yes, they can. Certainly if you have like 500 tags in your tag cloud, that can look a little bit like keyword stuffing, especially because it’s completely arbitrary words all just sort of jumbled together.
Also if you have a tag cloud that’s completely some weird sort of flash and they’re all spinning around, that can be really fun for users, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect that we can always extract those links and be able to flow PageRank through them.
The way to think of a tag cloud is really that it’s a list of links. And that can be good or it can be bad for your site. If you overdo it, for example the keyword stuffing, then maybe we don’t trust those links as much. Or it could impact the ranking on your page.
If it is just a small number of tags, then it probably won’t have an impact in terms of hurting your ranking or anything like that. But it is still a number of links on your page and PageRank will flow out through them.
So if you’d rather have page flow throughout your site, you might want to have your PageRank flow into your individual blog post rather than have things tagged as SEO or things tagged as Google or whatever.
So if you’ll notice I have category pages on my blog. I tend not to have tag clouds. They were very popular a while ago, but not that many users really seem to notice them or use them that heavily these days. It can be a little bit of work to set up, and then sometimes you’re sending a massive amount of links to various parts of your site, and you’re not deliberately thinking about the parts of your site that you really want to send the PageRank to.
So for me personally I tend to lean a little bit away from using tag clouds. It’s not as if they usually cause any harm, although if you have a ton of them then they can hinder your efforts because it can show up a little bit almost as if it is keyword stuffing. So, feel free to use them, but think about those sorts of factors whenever you’re deciding how big to make your tag clouds, what technologies to use, what tags to use, all those sorts of things.