in which i invent the word tagegory, which is as ugly as the messed-up concept it describes

I demystify the behaviour of post tagegory links. Again. No, this time I think I’ve got it, especially as another thread shows us bloated global tag PR in action (hat tip: timethief, in comments).

In a nutshell, they point to global tags in order to get Google traffic to the tag pages, because that traffic gets shown ads. The lack of labelling? I’m still thinking about that. Possibly it’s to get more people onto the tags pages and back out onto other blogs, so that people see viewers coming in from tags and think ‘hey, this is cool, if I use more tags maybe I’ll get more visitors!’ More tags = more tag links = higher PR for tag pages = more ad revenue.

That, or they can’t be bothered to edit the template function.

When mature blogs are fixed so that they are no longer forced to link into a system that does not benefit them, I will consider this an acceptable form of monetisation. (Granted, a form of monetisation that relies on confusing and irritating your users, but then so is advertising in general: it’s a necessary evil.) Forcing people to link back to a system that gives them traffic is fair enough, though refusing to label the links remains shady. Breaking their links purely for your own benefit? Doesn’t look good. Although I suppose the Automattic mentality is that they deserve to be punished for failing to be family-friendly and depriving them of adsense pennies (seeing as how Google’s ToS prevents them showing ads on those blogs).

But add to this Kissing Bandit’s contention that Google has already banned Technorati’s tag pages and options’s discovery that VIPs are allowed to opt out of global tags, even though they’re told when they sign up that those linkbacks are required; and things are getting slightly murky again.

(Global tags needs its own global tag, I think. This will be pleasingly meta.)

eta: well, whaddya know, Matt just locked both threads, so we must be on to something. Wonder if he’ll stick around to answer any actual support questions? :roll:

23 Comments »

  1. Hi Wank!

    I think I sort of reported this trend back on August 1 on my blog in an article titled “Urban Semiotic Articles Deleted From Google?” and this paragraph from that piece now reads especially interesting and prescient based on your post today:

    In the first search example — “Scobleizer Found Dead in His Grave” — Google returned the following. Notice the strange article links to the WordPress.com support forum and tags/category listings on WordPress.com, but there is no longer any direct link to the article proper on the Urban Semiotic URL:

    The whole article is here:

    http://urbansemiotic.com/2007/08/01/urban-semiotic-articles-deleted-from-google/

  2. There are so many blogs linking to global tag pages that they’re inevitably going to outrank pretty much anyone in Google. I don’t know whether Google would agree that tag pages are more relevant and useful than individual blog articles, but then of course they’re also benefiting from adsense on tag pages so whether they will do anything to fix them remains to be seen. Matt seems pretty rattled about us drawing attention to it, at any rate.

  3. timethief said

    Actually only this thread was closed “[closed] Google Results Show Categories Instead of Posts”
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16710
    This one is still open “Why Do Some Themes Have Local Tags Instead Of Global Tags?” http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16171&page&replies=39

  4. Obviously Matt exceeded his monthly quota of time on the forums and had to leave before finishing the job ;)

  5. Hey Wank –

    Yes, since moving to WP.com from my private hosting setup with Media Temple I have noticed a precipitous drop in direct Google.com search click-throughs that found its apex/nadir in my article.

    Things are a little better now — but not nearly as good what they used to be when I was independently hosted. I don’t know the how or the why of it…

    I’m not interested in making money from running 3rd party ads — but I did appreciate the avalanche of traffic Google.com search returns used to deliver directly to my blog.

  6. engtech said

    Funniest thing I’ve ever seen though is when my own internal tag pages started outranking specific posts in SERPs.

    That got me to stop using a Google Custom Search engine for my blog, since so often the first five results were internetducttape.com/tag/blah unless I specifically excluded them.

  7. Here’s a quickie review of the Google Custom Search Business Edition I wrote:

    http://urbansemiotic.com/2007/07/18/google-custom-search-business-edition-review/

    I mention it only here because engtech brought it up and because it was through that portal view of my blog that I started seeing those strange search diversions away from my blog proper.

  8. JRSofty said

    Man this Matt guy really is a piece of work. I’ve actually adblocked his avatar because everytime I see it I just want to slap the crap out him (he has one of those faces that just begs to be hit).

    Anyway great article and of course the whole reason for the tag pages is to build money with Google. However, it isn’t all WP’s fault you have to lay the blame on Google as well. Because everytime someone clicks on one of those links they make more money than they pay the people who show them.

  9. [...] Tagegory? Man I Wish I Had Thought of That! October 12th, 2007 — JRSofty Hey I would like to point people to That Girl Again’s blog Wank She’s got a great post about this whole grey area of Categories and Tags or as she calls them Tagegories. [...]

  10. Root said

    Once all this is properly understood – and Wank and others are doing a great job keeping up to date with all the shenanagins – I think folk are going to see this as worse that the Great WordPress Hot Nachos Spam Scandal. Far worse. No wonder Matt ™ is in a tizzy. I love the conspiracy theorists jibe. :)

  11. Ben M said

    I really hadn’t noticed how he avoids directly answering questions until his response for the second post:
    “The tag pages drive hundreds of thousands of pageviews to bloggers they would not get otherwise.” Not exactly irrelevant, but not entirely relevant, either. How does it feel to be a conspiracy theorist?

  12. Kissing Bandit said

    The tag pages drive hundreds of thousands of pageviews to bloggers they would not get otherwise.

    But do those pages actually deserve that traffic? And I’m not being facetious.

    Quite frankly, it’s easy for a page that has nothing to do with the information a searcher is looking for to wind up in the global tag page by simply adding that tag to it.

    As an example, you’ve just written a post about “bullsh*t” and tag it with “bs”. The full term and “bs” is used frequently in the post so people can make no mistake — the article is, indeed, about bullsh*t.

    Someone else has written a post about “Britney Spears” and also tags it with “bs”. Although Britney Spears is littered throughout the entry, no mention of “bs” is made.

    Innocent Joe Schmoe comes along and types in “bs” as a search term hoping to find more info on bullsh*t.

    Instead, he finds himself on a WP tag page where the first entry is about Britney Spears. Think Joe’s gonna be happy that he has to dig through crap to find his bs? Not really.

    Of course, this is just a very generalized example, but I certainly hope it illustrates my point that not all the pages listed in those tag clouds deserve to have the traffic filtered to them.

    It would be far wiser to pass along the link to the individual pages and let Google-bot, Slurp, MSN Live search bot determine which of those links would be most useful to the searcher.

    On a side note…I feel famous. I’ve been mentioned on WW. :)

    -KB

  13. I really hadn’t noticed how he avoids directly answering questions

    When I learned that Matt studied political science in college, suddenly a lot of things made a lot more sense to me. His penchant for answering the question he’d like to have been asked rather than the one he actually was is only one of them.

    Compared to the people on wp-hackers a couple of weeks ago screaming about their blog data being stolen, I don’t think those forum threads sound ‘paranoid’ at all. Matt is never very comfortable discussing anything to do with money, though, so I’m not surprised by his overreaction.

  14. [...] in the locked forums thread on “bloated global tags pages PR in action” Kissing Bandit suggested to prevent Global Tags pages from indexing by the search engines [...]

  15. [...] no time in leaping when Google says ‘jump’, so if Google turn a blind eye to their peculiar linking practices it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Google doesn’t need to buy Automattic; it already gets to [...]

  16. all my posts used to show up on google(in the middle of a mess of tag page returns) when i search the Exact Title, with the “”s and everything, which used to make perfect sense.
    but since the 7th of nov, it seems all the original pages have been pushed to the bottom of the pile, leaving cluttered tag pages at the top of the results. whats more, the link actually can’t be found on the result tag page because of new posts being shown.
    maybe i did something wrong.
    i am distressed.
    i’d love some help X[

  17. You’re not to blame. All I can suggest is: use fewer tags, and think about moving to your own server or a host that isn’t so heavily into SEO gaming.

  18. [...] posts with the same tags on our own blogs. But, once again, we didn’t get what we expected. We got tags that direct to the same place the categories direct to ie. to the global wordpress.com t…. (The only exceptions are “private” [...]

  19. thank you wank =] i’ll be looking around for hosting options~

  20. [...] posts with the same tags on our own blogs. But, once again, we didn’t get what we expected. We got tags that direct to the same place the categories direct to ie. to the global wordpress.com t…. The only exceptions may be private and mature content blogs. (See comment [...]

  21. [...] this usability issue on multiple occasions both privately and publicly. It only resulted in closing forums threads where it happened. Finally, along with several other volunteers, Automattic banned me from the fora [...]

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