It wasn’t too long ago that the term “Web 2.0” burst onto the scene. The catch-all buzzword, used to describe everything from blogs and social networking sites to wikis and podcasts, was created to show that a new generation on the Web had arrived. The Internet had evolved from a static collection of Web sites into a user-generated platform based on collaboration and information sharing.
Most people know by now that in order to compete on the Web they need a dynamic site that meets the new 2.0 standards, lest they be left behind to collect dust at the bottom of the search engines with the rest of the static has-beens. But in reality, not everybody has the type of business that supports a blog or a podcast. Fortunately tags, one of the latest burgeoning Web 2.0 trends, can be used successfully across the board.
Most people know tags as those handy little labels that allow them to organize their photos or blog entries into one or more easy-to-find categories, kind of like navigational bread crumbs. Tags are essentially linkable descriptive words used to categorize any type of media: video, images, audio, or text. Tags may be implemented by visitors or businesses, depending on the culture of the site. For example, if your site hosts a lot of user-generated content, you’d probably want users to do their own tagging. Photo sharing sites, such as Flickr, were some of the first Web sites to introduce the concept, and bookmarking sites, such as del.icio.us, followed close behind. Since then tags have quickly become a popular way for many Internet users to label and organize content to either find later or share with other users.
Many businesses are catching on to the tagging trend. For businesses that regularly add content to their Web sites, tagging is becoming more common as a user-friendly way to organize their content into more niche categories. These specialized categories not only make their Web sites easier to search internally, but they make the site more search-engine friendly by doubling as metadata.
E-retailers in particular can benefit from tags by using them to organize their ever-changing inventory. Instead of hiding a product in one category, tags can be used to help customers find products based on whatever trait they’re searching for. A customer seeking a blue cotton sweater, for example, can pull up every item matching that description in one easy search. In this scenario, the tags could be blue, cotton, sweater, winter, men, brand name, and V-neck. The finite details of products are all tag-worthy.
Using tags offline, whether for personal or business use, is also becoming more common thanks to the latest operating systems from Apple and Microsoft. Both systems offer tagging and robust search features that allow you to tag offline documents with keywords that can be used to find the documents later. Some individual applications also allow for tagging.
Only time will tell if offline tagging will replace the familiar system of nesting folders, but for now, many are finding that tags eliminate the dilemma of worrying about which folder is the “right” place to store a document for future use.
However you plan to use tags, they’re a helpful way to bring your business into the 2.0 world. Not only will your customers appreciate a more user-friendly site, but you and your employees may benefit from this easy-to-use filing system.