Tag and Ping Phenomenon

Teli Adlam —  June 2, 2006

Sean Wu recently released Tag and Ping, as a result, the internet marketing community has been flurrying with the news. A few people have e-mailed me for my thoughts on the whole tag and ping phenomenon.

I’ve not read Sean Wu’s Tag and Ping, so cannot comment on the quality of its contents, however, the premise of tag and ping is getting links and traffic to your site through folksonomy.

A “folksonomy” is a collaboratively generated, open-ended labeling system that enables Internet users to categorize content such as Web pages, online photographs, and Web links. The freely chosen labels – called tags – help to improve search engine’s effectiveness because content is categorized using a familiar, accessible, and shared vocabulary. The labeling process is called tagging. Two widely cited examples of websites using folksonomic tagging are Flickr and Del.icio.us.

This is not new. People have been using social bookmarking sites to help manage their links, and blog search engines with tag clouds to help them quickly locate information for quite a while. As a side effect, some of the sites being listed on these social sites would receive inbound links and traffic and that is what internet marketers are starting to latch on to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with marketing your content or product if it’s worth marketing. What worries me the most is that it will be exploited by unscrupulous marketers who don’t get it or care to get it.

About six months ago, I decided to start researching tagging and social bookmarking to see, first hand, how they would affect my blogs. The same time I started my research on tagging, I also decided to start using the services for much of my online research for other projects, sifting through content and compiling information from each of them. In many instances, it proved to be more useful than using any of the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN).

My conclusion is that tagging works for growing readership, increasing targeted traffic, and getting quality backlinks, but is a double edged sword. Tagging can be a way for people to easily find the information they’re looking for, but those same people will become aggravated if only scraped content blogs trying to scam some PR from the backlinks start popping in Technorati, IceRocket, del.icio.us et al. As a result, the services will be forced to implement countermeasures to protect their assets and keep their users happy. This could mean implementing the rel=”nofollow” attribute, blacklisting sites, deleting accounts, or other undesirable measures.

That said, please tag responsibly.

If you’ve read Sean’s guide, have any thoughts concerning tag and ping or tagging in general, feel free to share. I’d love to hear how you feel about it.

If you’re looking for a cost effective guide to tagging, then I’d recommend Lisa Ginger’s Tagging Secrets. This book is geared towards the beginning marketer who’d like to use tags to build traffic.

Also, if you have any specific questions about tagging, you’re welcome to ask me via comments or by sending me an e-mail.

[tags]tag and ping, folksonomy, tagging, sean wu, technorati, del.icio.us, delicious, flickr, internet marketing, tagging secrets[/tags]

Teli Adlam

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35 responses to Tag and Ping Phenomenon

  1. It’s called comment spam and while some marketers would like to think it’s viable and effective, the only thing it does is remove trust from prospective site visitors and customers.

    Comment spamming is a practice everyone would do well to avoid.

    Only comment on a blog when you feel that you can add something to the conversation or feel it’s something the blog author should hear.

    ~ Teli

  2. I get the tag…but why do the call it and ping?

    I understand the concept of blog-and-ping and even IP ping…but how does tagging involve pinging?

  3. Hi Bobby,
    The reason it’s called Tag and Ping is because some services, like Technorati and IceRocket allow users to create special tags before pinging their servers with the update.

  4. I have been alerted to tagging because I have found links to some of my websites included in nonesense blogs, which were not done by me.

    Q. Can Tag and Ping be used to give a website a bad reputation to the search engines?

    Or, have I not fully grasped this concept?

  5. Hi Tony,
    I believe the answer to your question depends on whether someone is trying to sabotage a website or if a webmaster knowingly exploits the tagging/bookmarking/search engines.

    If the website you’re promoting is filled with helpful and unique content, then you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about. It’s the garbage pages that would usually end up with a bad reputation in the search engines.

    As I mentioned above, just tag wisely. :)

    ~ Teli

  6. Hi Tony,
    I believe that search engines won’t punish a site for incoming links. Otherwise everyone will start sabotaging their competitors. You have no control on the incoming links so it wouldn’t be fair.

    About the nonsense blogs linking to you, there are many spam sites/blogs that use as content the search engine results. This may be the case with your sites too.

  7. @Alex: i totally agree with you, otherwise you can really sabotage competitors, but incoming links can be of no-use…

  8. I think every link is useful, it´s only the question how much worth is a link….

  9. If the website you’re promoting is filled with helpful and unique content, then you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about. It’s the garbage pages that would usually end up with a bad reputation in the search engines.
    Greetings

  10. I think, it is important to have unique content – incoming links are not the problem!

  11. I understand the concept of blog-and-ping and even IP ping…but how does tagging involve pinging?

  12. The concept of tag and ping is tagging blog entries, then pinging the services like Technorati to index the tags.

    Hope that clarifies,
    ~ Teli

  13. The most important are links! Good tags and unique content are helpful but it’s not enough to be high in search results!

  14. Hello,

    Wonderful.

    Lisa Ginger’s Tagging Secrets are really useful. Thx for that :)

  15. Hi Andre,
    I’m glad that you liked the ebook. Quite a few people have found it helpful and hope you do as well. :)

    ~ Teli

  16. Thanks Teli,
    This is a wonderful, insightful and uplifting case of a revealing infrastructure implementation of Open-Source & Free Software. Keep up these useful pieces.

  17. Robert Atzhemer- Konto December 30, 2006 at 4:03 am

    The tags are important (on-page factors). More important are the externel links (off-page factors). Any good SEO will agree with this words.

  18. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. One thing to remember is that tags aren’t only on-page factors. When used properly, tags can actually contribute to your off-page optimization.

    ~ Teli

  19. For me unique content and backlinks are the most important things. Thank you.

  20. I think it is like Robert wrote it, tags are important really, but more important are the external links… and there will be the answer for you if your are trying it…

  21. A good debate, though not having read the ebook, I’m not sure what ‘secrets’ it could possibly contain? The ‘ping’ services are easily located using wordpress control panels (for blogs) for all your tags.

    Writing something that people would enjoy reading is the difficult part.

    Most internet users are becomming wise to purely for Adsense sites so, while they may be ok to make a quick buck now, people will not stay with them for the longer term. Essentially, such sites are a complete waste of time. They rip off those who pay to advertise with Google (which may be their fault for doing so in the first place… a controversial view??? ;)) and they also irritate and frustrate people looking for something good on the internet (as opposed to a pile of links and adverts).

    Advertising on television is a bane for most people, that they will accept only due to a lack of an alternative. There is an alternative on the internet: many sites do not contain any advertising whatsoever. Such sites will prosper in the future as visitors become more discerning. Furthermore, when the search engine is defunct as the general access point to new websites, only sites with good content will achieve decent traffic figures.

    In conclusion, I reiterate what most of you have said: content is king. Learn how to write some good stuff that will interest the people you want to attract, tag wisely, take advantage of all the ping and trackback sites you want to use and your traffic will increase. You’ll also encourage precisely the people you want to your website: not morons who think that a purely for Adsense site has a place in anyone’s heart.

    P.S. sorry for the huge comment :)

  22. Hi Rob,
    No apology necessary. Though long, I allowed it to stay because it’s obvious you wanted to get a point across.

    While I agree with 90% of what you said, one thing did jump out at me that I must address:

    There is an alternative on the internet: many sites do not contain any advertising whatsoever. Such sites will prosper in the future as visitors become more discerning.

    Advertising isn’t solely comprised of AdSense. Advertising can be selling text links, having a sponsor, selling products (either in house or through affiliate programs), or asking for donations.

    The fact is, websites cost money to run. (Oddly, people seem to overlook that fact.) If there is no money coming in from somewhere, the site cannot exist. Those sites who don’t appear to have advertising are probably selling something, has a sponsor, or has an owner with deep pockets.

    Advertising isn’t a dirty word. It’s obtrusive advertising that leaves a bad taste in many mouths. Well placed advertisement and good content can happily coexist for the benefit of all.

    ~ Teli

  23. Hi Rob,
    One other thing that I glanced over in the initial comment was:

    A good debate, though not having read the ebook, I’m not sure what ’secrets’ it could possibly contain? The ‘ping’ services are easily located using wordpress control panels (for blogs) for all your tags.

    The ebook you reference (Tagging Secrets) isn’t merely about pinging the update services when you publish a blog entry. You’re correct, anyone can do that automatically with WordPress. It goes beyond that to help blog authors market their blogs on a wider scale using folksonomy.

    If you just have a personal blog, then you really wouldn’t need this guide, but if you have a product or niche site that you want to get noticed, then it can prove useful.

    It doesn’t bypass or replace the need for valuable content. (Marketing a blog without good content is futile, but a blog with good content that’s never read is simply a waste of good content.)

    ~ Teli

  24. Just a small addition to Rob’s point of view; advertising in TV is not only a bane for most people, it’s also very local when compared with the internet.

  25. Does tag and ping still work?

  26. Hi Eric,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    To answer your question, it depends on how you use it. For those who used it improperly (i.e. tag spam), it never really worked, however, when you tag wisely and use the social bookmarking/networking services to your advantage, then yes.

    I and others have had, and continue to have, great success with tagging and folksonomy.

    ~ Teli

  27. I bought Tag and Ping by Sean Wu and it has great information for marketing a weblog. It is very important use this information wisely to increase your blog traffic and popularity in search engine.

  28. I don’t what to think about tagging, is that not going to be “duplicate content” with the time? Much tags direct on one article. Pinging is helpful to become a new site into the search engines, because some ping-services have a high PR and got crawled every day.

  29. I’ve read through the whole page, and thanks to all of you, I have learned lots of new stuff.

    But, I still have a question. I use wp and would like to use Ultimate Tag Warrior on it. I had it installed and set to create those “link tag” lines on the botom of each post, but the links UTW would create there don’t go anywhere; they result in a 404 error.

    So, here my question: am i stupid? What is it i don’t understand about tag links? Or, what good are those link tags if they don’t connect to either a page in my blog or some other web?

    ————————————————————————————-
    Other question: pinging! I use the wordpress google sitemaps ping. In one month Google has visited my site ONCE, has indexed 5 pages, but I have more than 90.

    What am i doing wrong? I have double double verified the setup of the plugin and not found anything wrong with it.

    Thanks for your help.

  30. Hello Rafa,
    To answer your first question, I don’t think you’re stupid. The reason you’re getting a 404 error returned from UTW links is because you don’t have pretty permalinks enabled. Once you get your permalinks up and running, and assuming you’ve read and followed the UTW installation instructions, your links should be fine.

    To answer your second question, Google Sitemaps won’t affect your website’s ranking or indexing schedule. It just provides Google with a way of knowing which pages of your website it can index. Focus on building your backlinks, participating in the community, and getting natural traffic to your blog and you’ll be better off.

    ~ Teli

  31. Thanks Teli for your prompt answer.

    Once I tried to activate permalinks to have “pretty” URLs. Upon saving the changes my blog was blocked. I found out that on my server I can’t use url rewrite, it is an option on apache servers, and on free.fr it is off by default. So I guess that for me UTW won’t be a solution.

    Or could I create the pages that UTW is creating links to, manually? But that would be lots of work.

  32. Hi Rafa,
    Well, you have a couple options. There is a way to enable pretty permalinks without needing to have .htaccess mod_rewrite enabled — you will need to use index.php somewhere in the URL structure. (There’s a note about it on the WP Codex page linked previously.)

    If that still doesn’t work, then you could probably downgrade to a simple tagging plugin like SimpleTags (which is what I use here). By modifying a bit of code, you can have the tags point to the search results page of your blog instead of Technorati.

    UTW, I’m sure can be configured to work as you want it to, but you’ll probably need to do some digging through the UTW documentation.

    ~ Teli

  33. Dear Teli,
    I thank you so much for your help. This morning when I got up I found your new message and started right away to add the simple tags plugin to my web.

    Since I’m novice I was a little scared to program within the code, but, I found out how to direct a tag link to my local search page. Acutally it is mysite.ext/?s= and then when I did my first test, it worked right away. Incredible. Wow, I’m happy. Now I can invent my own tags, and link within my blog and not let visitors deviate to Technorati.

    Thanks again for your awesome help.

    BTW, I didn’t understand what you meant with:

    without needing to have .htaccess mod_rewrite enabled — you will need to use index.php somewhere in the URL structure. (There’s a note about it on the WP Codex page linked previously.)

    I’ve looked all over this page but not found a note on wp condex linked previously. Maybe you could specify the exact location of the note? That way I’ll give the UTW another try as well before definatley deleting it from my WP.

    And, Thank You Very Much!!

  34. Hi Rafa,
    I’m glad that I could help. :)

    What I meant by the phrase quoted is that you could use something like /index.php/pretty/permalink/, which doesn’t require .htaccess, instead of the standard /pretty/permalink/ — it’s under the “Almost Pretty” section of the Codex.

    And, you’re welcome.

    ~ Teli

  35. I just came across your blog where I learned about Tag and Ping and internet marketing. The premise of tag and ping is getting links and traffic to our site through folksonomy. I have doubts that tags can also help to improve search engine optimization. But, it will be helpful in my studies….