This weekend, Technorati reached another milestone, our millionth indexed tag. It amazes me that since we launched our service to track tags on blog posts on January 17th of this year, there has been an explosion in the use and understanding of tags. Here's a recent AP article on tags, if you're new to the phenomenon.
Beyond a million distinct tags, there's also a lot of bloggers tagging posts. At the moment of the 1 millionth blog, we had tracked 14.2 Million tagged blog posts. 14.2 Million tagged posts in just over 4 months, that's a lot of posts.
So what's a tag? Simple. It is a simple user-generated category for something. Technorati wasn't the first to catch onto the idea of tagging - sites like Del.icio.us, Flickr, and Furl were already doing it when we jumped in. Simply put, tags make it easier to self-organize the web. I like to use tags as a kind of dynamic web magazine, with posts, pictures, and bookmarks that all relate to a particular topic or event - for example, Ireland, or poetry, or a conference like Etech or PDF. People are using them to note product information and reviews, like for ipods and thinkpads, and they are tagging in a variety of languages - there's even a power law distribution for popular tags.
How do Technorati tags work? Well, there's a couple of ways that we index tags in blog posts. One way is to use a Subject or Category in a popular blogging tool like Movable Type, WordPress, or Typepad, or in a popular CMS like Drupal. That will add the tags to your RSS feed, which Technorati will process. Alternatively, you can include special links inside of your posts (as I do in my posts), which give the additional benefit of making it easy for your readers to pivot on the tag you specify and get more information. Tools like Ecto make this kind of tagging a total breeze, simply checking off a few boxes in the composition window, and people have created simple bookmarklets to easily cut-and-paste tags into your posts, too. there's even automated tag creation tools. The linking mechanism isn't the only way to do tagging, and Tantek is spearheading our efforts to work with anyone who wants to tag and add metadata to their posts, we are completely agnostic about this, I only want to see more people out there tagging.
If you haven't played with tags yet, have a look at the most popular tags on the main tags page or start tagging using your favorite tool or bookmarklet. I think you'll find that it is fun, easy to do, and adds value to your readers. And hey, it helps get indexed better by search engines as well, not a bad thing overall.
If there's anything that we at Technorati can do to help make your experience with tags better, please don't hesitate to leave a comment, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm pretty sure we've eliminated some of the early beta bugs, and that things should be working pretty reliably, but we're a small group of folks, and we don't catch everything. We're working hard to be of service, please send comments and feedback - we're always looking to improve.