I don’t claim to be a SEO expert in any shape or form. I’m a web designer/developer first and foremost but like any other Designer or Developer I want the sites I build to be at the top of the Google search results. I recently built a college basketball fan blog for the ETSU Basketball team. I originally built the WordPress theme with a tag cloud in the sidebar because I thought it would be helpful for users to easily find specific topics when visiting the site. The site has been up for several months now and one thing I was struggling with was the fact that it was not performing well in the Google search ranks. However, it was performing how I wanted in Bing and Yahoo. Both search engines were putting the ETSU basketball blog on the first page of their search results with the most important search terms but it was a different story on Google. I wasn’t seeing it until about the 3rd or 4th page on Google and sometimes lower than that.
So one day when I was working on the site I started thinking how valuable was that ugly little tag cloud in the sidebar? It wasn’t really receiving the kind of click thru’s I thought it would, mainly because the demographic of the blog wasn’t really geared at tech minded people. So most of my visitors probably didn’t really understand it’s purpose and likely wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. To be safe I started digging around on some WordPress and SEO blogs trying to determine if removing the tag cloud would hurt or improve my search rankings. Well I found a pretty revealing video on the subject.
After watching this video I removed the tag cloud. The next day I checked my search rankings in Google and bam! I went from the 3rd page to the first page in Google practically overnight. I couldn’t believe something so small could affect my search rankings on Google like that.
With that being said, my advice when it comes to tag clouds on your WordPress theme, don’t use them unless you believe or have evidence that your users need them. It might hurt your page rank in Google, especially if you have a lot of tags.