SEO & Tagging : Building Tag Hierarchies

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SEO & Tagging : Building Tag Hierarchies

I’m a firm believer that the future of SEO includes expansion of web page quality and categorical definition beyond site content, directory listings, and co citation. Tagging puts the definition of a web site into the hands of the public, and when compared to the meta tags or content which is owned and controlled by the site owner; tagging in theory is a much more accurate & organic form of weighing the importance of a site or object (image, video [think YouTube], sound) to the search query.

Only problem with the equation is that people beyond the tech, academic & marketing crowds must first begin saving and tagging sites.

Bill Slawski has an informative post on SEO by the SEA about a Stanford project centered around building Tag Hierarchies. Hmm, SEO and tagging, seems Mr. Slawski is on a similar wavelength with tagging’s implications on search engine relevance measurement – especially Yahoo (which owns Flickr and, not to mention Google’s new toolbar bookmark manager and citations, and oh yeah, Looksmart’s in the pile somewhere with their bookmarking.

Bill quotes Paul Heymann, author of Tag Hierarchies:

Tagging systems are excellent at the task that they were designed for—allowing a large, disparate group of users to collaboratively label massive, dynamic information systems like the web, media collections of millions of images, and so on. We are working to make these systems better by automating production of hierarchical taxonomies that describe the data from the raw flat tags generated by users.

Why break tagging down into hierarchies? Bill adds:

“Social tags like those used by Flickr or are interesting in that they allow people to categorize their own efforts (and those of others) and share material based upon those classifications.

But, the result of tagging is a pretty flat list of many categories.”

Tagging, as a form of social media and more importantly; social definition, is the future of Yahoo and possibly the track of other search services. But again, how do we get people more active in tagging?

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • The average NON TECHie or NON Academician, probably would do a very cursory job of tagging.

    Look at how chaotic most people’s FAVORITES/BOOKMARKS are.

    This would be a perfect place to create categorical folders (that are in a sense Tags)…Users DO have control there!

    People would probably react well to auto-tagging technology – that analyzes and suggests TAGS ….. then, allows easy confirmation.

  • Ross

    Good to see that “Looksmart’s in the pile somewhere with their bookmarking”.


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  • Tagging is great for SEO, but do users actually use them? What effect do they have on the user experience??

    Opinions please