Pete Freitag Pete Freitag

Make your blog better with tags

Updated on November 17, 2023
By Pete Freitag

Of all the features that I've added to my homebrew blogging software tagging (or folksonomys) has been my favorite. Here's why:

Tag Clouds

I've designed the home page of my blog to make it easy for a first time visitor to know what my blog is about. Nothing does this better than the tag cloud of popular tags they are presented with:

popular tags tag cloud

With a quick glance you can see that this blog is mostly about ColdFusion/CFML, but I also talk about MySQL, Java, RSS, SQL and Macs quite a bit - you would also notice that I like to share tips.

The point is that tag cloud describes my blog 1000 times better than any paragraph could.

(I wrote an article that shows you how I made my tag clouds)

Related Blog Entries

Another really cool thing you can do with tags is find posts that are related. I simply run a query to find the blog entries that have the most tags in common. Specifically, here's how I do it.

Related Books

Ever wonder how I display related books for my blog entries? I simply use my tags as keywords and query the amazon web services.

Tags as RSS categories

When you throw your tags into the category tag in your RSS feed, your post will be indexed by services like technorati. This means more hits from technorati because people subscribe, and search for tags they are interested in.

Meta Keywords

I use the tags for a blog entry to populate the keywords meta tag for each blog entry.

Tag Pages

Tag pages are the pages that list all the blog entries tagged with a particular tag. This is super handy when I'm looking for something I already blogged, for instance if I can see all my blog entries about CSS on one page. These pages will also generate a few more hits from the search engines (though not too many).

Update 2023: I removed the tag pages because I think they were not good for search engines, even though I kind of found those pages handy. I probably could have put a meta robots tag instead of removing them. I still use tags though works great for keywords and related entries.

tagging folksonomy tags tag cloud blogging blog

Make your blog better with tags was first published on October 14, 2005.

If you like reading about tagging, folksonomy, tags, tag cloud, blogging, or blog then you might also like:

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Very interested in two things you pointed out:

1. How are you searching Amazon to find related books? (Great idea, by the way)

2. When you say that Technorati indexes the <category> RSS do you mean?

Thanks! And great site by the way!
by Jake on 11/01/2005 at 7:49:38 PM UTC
Hi Jake,

1 - I'm using Amazon's web services to search amazon. I simply pass in my tags as keywords and amazon results with some books.

2 - Ok so this post is tagged with the word "folksonomy", so I add a <category>folksonomy</category> to my RSS item (check out the source of my rss feed. When technorati indexes my site it can then pickup that folksonomy is a tag for this entry. Now my blog entry will show up on this page and lots of people subscribe to the technorati RSS feeds for specific tags.

Glad you like my site, it's encouraging to hear.
by Pete Freitag on 11/02/2005 at 11:45:53 AM UTC
Man oh man... I've been working on trying to get the amazon web service working for hours now and can't seem to get it to setup correctly.

Do you think you'd be willing to share some code or point me in the right direction?

I thought it'd be as easy as this:

<cfinvoke webservice=""
AWSAccessKeyId="1MA67N5MXGH1BJZ0AQ02" SubscriptionId="bricksonthebr-20"

...but that's giving me amazon errors.

Please help, I'm going nuts!
by Jake on 11/23/2005 at 2:27:09 AM UTC
Hey Jake,

I use their REST API and then parse the XML myself.
by Pete Freitag on 11/23/2005 at 7:27:48 AM UTC
Thanks, that really helped. I can get the REST API working no problem. I did have one question though -

I notice if I plug in a keyword like google, I get thousands of results. Is there a way in the request (rather than the CF output process) to limit the XML package returned? If I'm wanting to add a couple of related books to a blog entry (like you're doing), I don't really need thousands of results!

by Jake on 11/25/2005 at 4:14:31 PM UTC
D'oh! One more question - I notice if I use a tag as a keyword for a keyword search, I can really only use one tag. If I search like "Keyword=google,api", then it's doing a "search for google AND api" rather than "search for google OR api".

Are you just randomly selecting one of your tags on your entries to search one?

Thanks! (Again!)
by Jake on 11/25/2005 at 4:19:07 PM UTC
Hey Jake,

I'm not sure how your getting thousands of results, usually it only returns 10 results unless your using a blended search which searches all product categories. But there is a way to limit it check out the docs:

As for how I'm searching, I use the power search function and pass in each tag with an OR - I was using keyword searches, and I've even tried the TextStream method (see: it doesn't work that well in practice).
by Pete Freitag on 11/26/2005 at 11:36:46 AM UTC
Does placing tags help your ranking in the search engines and is it a good way to add to your seo campaign
by Mark on 06/27/2010 at 7:04:54 PM UTC
Does placing tags help your ranking in the search engines and is it a good way to add to your seo campaign
by Mark on 06/27/2010 at 7:05:28 PM UTC