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What Tagging Is and Why It Matters

Aug 17, 2008
The superiority of classical taxonomies like the Dewey Decimal is being rivaled by "Tagging". The Dewey Decimal groups the worlds' information in to ten major categories. If you have used a library you may be aware of numbers used on the spine of books. For example, the numbers 600-699 are dedicated to the category Technology.

The number 630 is specifically for books on Agriculture and a related technology, while 636.7 is used on all books about the animal dog. To the not so "schooled", it may make no sense grouping dogs under technology; however the Dewey's classification has served the world well for years. It has made it easy to find information in any library anywhere in the world.

Yet true to its nature, the internet is turning information classification on its head through Tagging. Tagging involves a user assigning a single word to a piece of content. This word is usually the one the user most associates the content with. It is also the word they are likely to use to find that piece of content again. So even with increasing amounts of content to retrieve, the user is able to group their information in a manner they best understand.

And to make matters even better, the user can tag the same content with several tags. For example, that photo for your wedding anniversary last year can be tagged "wedding" and "anniversary" and "2006" as well as "honey". And whenever you searched within any of those tagged categories you will find the same photo.

If you were to consider only yourself tagging your wedding anniversary photo with three tags it does look orderly. But consider you sent out this photo through Flickr to your family friends. Each will definitely tag it very differently; and this is where the chaos begins.

For example a Stephen King novel would be tagged as "horror" by one, "ghost-story" by another while the literature professor will tag it "pop-culture". Infact one of the allures to tagging sites is to check out what others are tagging, because we know very well that we do not think the same.

A research by Pew Internet is showing that a significant portion of the internet market is tagging. Sites that have tagging as a central activity like Technorati (a blog search engine), Delicious ( a bookmark sharing website), Flickr ( a photo sharing website) and to a lesser extent Gmail, Google's free mail service have been greatly increasing in popularity. And as we know, wherever people go, marketers follow.

Like other Web 2.0 technologies, tagging should be of interest to an internet business. Its importance to a business resides in the fact that tagging quite often doubles up with sharing. If your webpage was of such value that it got tagged, a growing buzz can emanate from that as more and more people share your site. This can allow you to reach people who would never have found your site through Search Engines.

In skillfull hands, tagging can even be able to drive thousands to your site in a relatively short time. And unlike news submissions, tag site often get numerous repeat visits as users come back to engage your site. This is because users mostly tag site they want to find again.
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