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Are You Abusing and Misusing Tags?

Affilitate Tips Site is one of the many abusers and misusers of tags I’ve found. Among the “tags” listed at the very top of the article are:

Tag(s);2007, adsense, american idol, bebo, blog, blogger, blogging, blogging kit, blogging kits, britney spears, bush, current events, digg, foto, galilea montijo, hd dvd, ieia, igoogle, in the news, joost, mark driscoll, me, mix07, mp3, myspace, open source, penis, random thoughts, silverlight, skin care, tags, tecnologia, ubuntu, vista, war, web 20, weight loss, windows, wordpress, xbox 360, youtube

Example of misuse of tags for keyword spammingWithin the article, I could find no mention of NOT ONE of these words. Not one. And the articles have nothing to do with any of these subjects, though blog, blogging, and a couple of blog and advertising related words might – they aren’t reflective of the blog’s content at all.

Don’t you think there is something wrong with this?

In Abuse: Keyword Spamming versus Tag Spamming, I wrote of the abuse and misuse of hidden keywords from the early days of the web and how this same abuse could easily be done with tags.

Does just the addition of the rel=”tag” change the meaning of this potential blatant attempt at increasing keyword coverage for search engines? Do search engines spot the relationship attribute and ignore them as search engine spam? Or not? And if not, can your site be punished for this in some way?

…In other words, trust and self policing. The tag services and social bookmarking services are relying upon you, the user, to add tags that “make sense”, relate to the content, help the visitor, and don’t abuse the system. They also work hard to promote the myth that in order to be effective, the tags must link back to their services. Eventually, like everything else, there may be rules, but right now, it’s a free-for-all when it comes to tags.

We know it’s being abused. Everything gets abused. What worries me is what kind of kick back that abuse will take.

This is abuse. So what are the repercussions?

As far I can tell, this blog creates original content and doesn’t scrap or splog. It is doing nothing more than using an age old SEO black-hat technique called keyword spamming, something that would have penalized it in the “old days”, but does it if the keyword spamming is disguised as tags? The tags link to Technorati, not to the abuser’s blog, so Technorati wins from all those tag links, right? What does the blog lose?

Does the blog win because of the blatant use of keywords in links, or does it lose because the links have no relevancy to the content?

What do you think? Tags are self-policing, self-describing choices. You choose what tags to use on your blog. You can link them to Technorati, your blog, Wikipedia, or anywhere you choose and they are still “tags”. It’s totally up to you to choose which words you use as tags and in which combination.

Tags are meant to increase your blog’s navigation as well as provide links to related content on your site and off. They were designed as a micro-categorization technique for blog content. And their best use is when the words within the tag link matches the content of the post and blog.

But how are these scams and search engine gaming techniques penalized when tags are abused? Are they? By Technorati, king of tags? Or Google? Do you think they should be?

What do you think about this misuse and abuse of tags?

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10 Comments

  1. Posted May 17, 2007 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I too came across a post here on WordPress late last year that contained an insane number of unrelated tags. I responded with a post on my blog. I feel very strongly about relevant, accurate tagging. I pretty much voiced much of what I believe about tagging in my post, take a look if you have some time.

  2. Posted May 17, 2007 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    A difficult and interesting question but I think the issue will sort itself out just like in the old days. Google started penalizing websites that misused metadata/keyword spamming and I think it won’t be long before Technorati starts doing the same. Actually it’s already doing it, but it’s a never ending battle of constant adjustments on both sites. I’m not into ranking systems but they could do things such as: if site uses more than x tags from the current top 100 tag list and if site has a low ranking/a low number of trustworthy incoming links than lower the ranking of the site. Isn’t that how splogs are currently handled?

    Spam + Blogs = Trouble

    I’m all for punishment of tag abuse, it’s just plain old keyword spamming. I’m positive Technorati and Google will continue to detect these new spamming methods, adjust their ranking systems and punish these sites. Of course it’s a never ending battle but I’m hopeful.

  3. Posted May 17, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Actually, that’s one of the reasons I’ve never quite taken off with tagging my posts. I use the Autometa plug-in, alright, and I occasionally edited the “automatic tags” but that’s it.

    But then again, the blogger of the site you pointed to was definitely abusing the use of tags. And it’s so ironic that it was actually written by someone who was trying to teach his readers “how to delight your affiliates”. LOL.

  4. Posted May 17, 2007 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Funny… they seem to have removed most of the tags from that “Affilitate Tips Site” link that you provide:

    “Tag(s);Affiliate, Affiliates, blog, blogging”

    Nicely done! :-)

  5. Posted May 17, 2007 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Lorelle.

    My two cents: Tags are tools. Tools can be used for good or bad. A saw in the hands of a carpenter can create wonderful things but in the hands of a psycho? Well… It’s the intention behind the usage that causes the damage.

    Unfortunately, as an Internet Marketer, Mr Musselwhite has benefited from the abuse of tags and from your post which will generate the traffic he originally wanted. Named & Shamed? Yes. However, it still leaves the matter of the search engine finding the site linked to from your blog… *cough* ever tried the rel=”nofollow” attribute? (the nofollow is also a tool… ;) ).

  6. Posted May 17, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I am quite sure the existing SE filters will penalize this practice.

  7. Posted May 18, 2007 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I follow the tags feed for the “Lucid Dreaming” tag on Technorati, and I notice that 90% of the stuff on there isn’t related to Lucid Dreaming. It Torks and Irks me to no end!!!

  8. Posted May 18, 2007 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Thank for you free review for my blog.
    I only want try to test what happen to my blog if i do like that.That why only one article i do like that. I’m newbie in blogging.

    Thank again

  9. Posted May 20, 2007 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    One can only hope that proper use of tags will benefit in the long run over incorrect use.

  10. Posted May 23, 2007 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing that Google and other blog indexers will do content/tags analysis and figure out that there is a huge chasm of difference, and penalize as spam accordingly.

    And blog hosting providers like WP.com that have AUPs that forbid spamming should yank these accounts.


10 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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