Tagging Isn’t Indexing: A Study of Del.icio.us Tagging

Have you ever tagged an image in Flickr, a link in Del.icio.us, a video in YouTube? Have you used tags in these systems to find similar pictures or pages or videos? Is tagging is taking indexing away from professional indexers, and putting it into the hands of amateurs. Have you used a tag to indicate that you want to read something in the future? Is tagging a threat to indexing, or is it developing into a complementary way of collecting information about an object?

A study on tags, Patterns and Inconsistencies in Collaborative Tagging Systems: An Examination of Tagging Practices (pdf) – via Gary Price, explores the use of tags from a scientific perspective.

A co-word analysis of tagging practices, therefore, could provide insight into the patterns that are emerging through these practices, and the extent to which they are consistent with, and supportive of, conventional indexing and classification practices. Equally important, such an analysis might well show important differences between user tagging and conventional indexing: differences which indexers would do well to notice.

Some interesting observations within the paper. I’ll be thinking a little more about the tags that I use now that I’ve read it.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search Engines: Social Search Engines | Search Features: Tagging


About The Author: is the Director of Search Marketing for Go Fish Digital and the editor of SEO by the Sea. He has been doing SEO and web promotion since the mid-90s, and was a legal and technical administrator in the highest level trial court in Delaware.

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  • http://andybeard.eu/ AndyBeard

    It is interesting that Search Engine Land isn’t using tagging extensively.

    Google seem to place a very high emphasis on pages that seem to be related to tagging. This could be related to using tagging within LSI.

  • http://www.yoparts.com yoparts


    Good post..I see the trends in Vertical markets rising and this type of tagging can be beneficial. This is a great way to incorporate del.icio.us tags into Google CoOp CSE example Here


  • http://searchlounge.org chrisf

    Interesting article; and I like it when academics write articles that validate our gut feelings!

    But why not build a “tagsology”? A system that lightly integrates tagging with a behind-the-scenes ontology? Don’t touch people’s tags, but have some meta-data that’ll help search engines map concepts together.

  • http://bill@seobythesea.com Bill Slawski

    I like that application, yoparts. Thanks. It would be great to have a custom search engine which used the posts and pages that I bookmarked in del.icio.us.

    Great point, Chris. My most recent post here is about a presentation Susan Dumais made at Yahoo last month. She discusses the value of personal tags on top of indexed information.

    Interesting point about tagging here at Search Engine Land, Andy. How would that best be implemented? We have a growing category system, but that isn’t the same thing.

  • http://andybeard.eu/ AndyBeard

    Interesting point about tagging here at Search Engine Land, Andy. How would that best be implemented? We have a growing category system, but that isn’t the same thing.

    You chose to publish on Typepad, whereas I can really only give extensive advice on WordPress.

    Basic tagging that most people use links through to Technorati etc. It is not ideal for search engine purposes but better than nothing.

    I am not sure what is available for Typepad for internal tagging. For WordPress you can use plugins like Ultimate Tag Warrior that create internal tag pages.

    Easy solution – switch to WordPress ;) – I am sure that isn’t what you wanted to hear though – maybe there are Typepad specific solutions that don’t give Technorati all your link equity and traffic.

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