October 18, 2007

Five tag management plugins for WordPress 2.3

Author: Tina Gasperson

If you want to experiment with tags on your WordPress site, there's never been a better time. The newest WordPress version, 2.3, offers native tagging support. Working with tags in WordPress 2.3 is not a totally intuitive process, and ubiquitous tag management plugin Ultimate Tag Warrior is not supported in 2.3, so coders have been busy writing new plugins to help you take advantage of every ounce of tag functionality in WordPress. Here are five tag management plugins for 2.3 you might want to try.

Many bloggers think tagging will eventually replace categories as the preferred way to classify posts. Tags are more intuitive and flexible than categories, supporters say. Some say the difference between tags and categories is like the difference between search engines and directories. The former pulls up everything that contains your search term so you don't miss anything; the latter provides fewer, and some say higher quality, results.

Recommended Tags -- This plugin simplifies your life by adding "type-ahead" field completion. As you begin typing a keyword, Recommended Tags pulls up a listing of matching tags. True to its name, it recommends tags based on the content of your article. Recommended Tags ignores HTML, so it won't pick up recommendations from URLs or delimiters. One nice option in this plugin is a choice to ignore plurals or other suffixes on tags, so that you don't end up with five different tags for "tag, tags, tagged, tagging, tagger," for example, but simply "tag," which would include all the aforementioned variations.

To install Recommended Tags, as with all WordPress plugins, upload the folder to the plugins directory of your WordPress 2.3 installation, then activate it from the control panel. Look under "options" and you'll see a button for Recommended Tags where you can customize the plugin to your liking.

Flash Tag Cloud -- If you're OK with using Flash, here's a little blog bling that's useful too. Flash Tag Cloud used to work only with the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin, but with WordPress 2.3's tag support, UTW is not necessary anymore. Flash Tag Cloud is just like any other tag cloud, except that as you hover over a tag, it grows larger and comes into focus, while the other tags fade into the background. If you have a lot of tags, you'll need to have a fairly large space set aside for FTC, even though you can change the size in the admin panel after you install the plugin. If you make the tag cloud too small, it doesn't look good, and FTC doesn't recommend that you change the font sizes, even after you change the overall height and width of the cloud itself. To add your flash tag cloud to the site, insert {flashtagcloud} where you want it to appear.

Those who can't stand Flash can use the tag cloud functionality built into WordPress 2.3 by adding the following code to a page:

<?php if ( function_exists('wp_tag_cloud') ) : ?>
<h2>Popular Tags</h2>
<?php wp_tag_cloud('smallest=8&largest=22'); ?>
<?php endif; ?>

All In One SEO Pack -- This popular plugin isn't strictly for tags, but it does automatically pull your existing tags from WordPress 2.3 to create search engine optimization keywords so you don't have to make your own list. It also comes with a lot of indispensable features for getting your blog SEO-ready.

Embedded Tag Thing is one of my favorite tag management plugins for WordPress 2.3. It's so simple, and very similar to Technorati tag functionality. You surround keywords in your content with [tag] , [/tag] and they automatically show up in the published content as linked to the tag pages for those words or phrases. Or you can list several keywords between the tag code delimiters and they will just embed as tags in the content without links.

Tag Suggest Thing -- This one is another favorite of mine, from the author of Embedded Tag Thing, for those times when you're feeling too lazy to pull out your own tags, or for very long or detailed articles when it could be time-consuming to come up with an exhaustive list of keywords. Tag Suggest uses the Yahoo! term extraction API, which Ultimate Tag Warrior also uses to good effect. You'll still want to glance at the list Tag Suggest creates for you to make sure it didn't leave out anything major.

As easy as these tag management plugins are to install and use, who knows, you might just decide to replace the categories list in your sidebar with a new tag cloud.


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