Intelligent use of the tags


Most forum admins activate the tags but do not really pay much more attention to them than that. I pay a lot of attention to them.

Here is what I do with them:

1. I have a predetermined list of thread tags that we prefer to use on each forum (even though thread starters can add what ever they like).

2. Moderators check each new thread to make sure it is tagged with at least one of the relevant tags from the predetermined list. They delete tags that are not on that list (unless its an important one we should consider adding to the list).

3. Periodically we do add some new ones to the list (and then find all the relevant threads to add that tag to).

4. When someone clicks on one of the thread tags, then what they get should be a collection of threads that have valuable content related to the topic of the tag. Threads that add no value to the tag, have the tag removed.

5. In the top navigation bar, there is a link to ‘Thread Tags‘ or ‘Table of Contents‘ (see this example). This leads to a page that lists all the thread tags from the list. We promote this Table of Contents as being like an index to a textbook. This page is hand built (I do not like the automated tag clouds that get generated by the software). I have done the same here with Forum Doc’s ABC’s (see the top of the page).

6. When ever a new thread is started, a moderator is encouraged to post in the thread as soon as possible with a message that says: Related threads: {link to the relevant tag}.

7. Even though I do not like the automated generated thread tag clouds, I do put one on the home page.

8. I build links to the ‘Table of Contents‘ page and use Linkvana to build links to individual tags pages.

This is why I do that with them:

A. For the User:

  1. The Table of Contents is somewhere where they can start looking for information on the topic that they are looking for. Regular users often point newbies to this page in the Introductions forums when they are welcomed.
  2. The post by a moderator early in new threads directs users to others on the related topic. Imagine a user coming to the thread from a search engine and the thread does not provide them with what they were looking for; so they leave. If they are directed to related threads they may stay and look around; they may join and they may contribute.

B. For the Search Engines:

  1. The tag cloud on the home page; the link to related threads by posted by moderators; the ‘Table of Contents‘ page; the link building to the ‘Table of Contents‘ page and to individual tags pages; all have the effect of getting the search engines to crawl deep into the site and index all or most of the forum.
  2. If more of the site is indexed, there are more chances of new visitors coming from the long tail searches.
  3. The link building to the thread tags with Linkvana, means they are going to rank higher in the SERPs.
  4. Indented search results (ie two listings) are more common as search engines see two relevant pages on the site when returning them as a search results. They will return a thread that is relevant to the search query and often the relevant tags pages as well (or instead a second thread that is relevant – the tags made sure that they were all indexed).

The upshot of this, is the thread tags can enhance the users experience of your site, potentially reduce the bounce rate, and benefit search engine indexing and ranking.

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