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Do tag clouds hurt ranking?

     
11:00 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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One of my projects grew over time and I would like to implement a search option. I'd like to present the top searches in a tag cloud on the front page and link them to the search results.

Is this still considered o.k. for Google after the recent updates? What about keyword stuffing? What is best practice?
11:18 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Does it help users? Yes.
Will Google like it? Probably not.

IMO anyway.
11:21 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've never found tag clouds to be especially useful to users, or a particularly good idea for SEO.

The idea behind a tag cloud is to visually represent the importance of a word with size (either CSS font size or even in a font tag in some that I've seen). The issue there is that this conveys nothing about importance to search engines at all - it's just a list of random links.

From what I've seen in terms of users, unless you have a tech audience, Joe Public just sees a mess of words too. I think word clouds are good for a "one off" visualisation of word importance, but in terms of general purpose utility, I'm not a fan.
4:49 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts said it depends on how you do it. Here's a video that explains some of the details:

Do tag clouds help or hinder SEO? [youtube.com]
5:13 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I like the CYA by saying "probably won't." His "insight" is rather ambiguous.

Marshall
5:21 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'd say that's because the algo is so far from being cut and dried today - in fact, it's very complex!

How I Make Sense of Google's Complex Algorithm [webmasterworld.com]
8:41 pm on May 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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My intention of a tag cloud in this case is to show the user a hot topic, a trend or give ideas of what could be currently interesting.

In addition, I can link to some of my search result pages that maybe would not show up in Google without that.

Maybe a tag cloud is the wrong approach, a more user friendly idea could be just an ordered list with the top 10 searches.