A lot of people are using tag cloud or keyword clouds these days. Many websites provide free tools to create these clouds. ToCloud.com has used it’s log of the websites that have been converted to keyword clouds, for each of those websites, got the number of bookmarks on del.icio.us and then plotted it as cloud of clouders.
Is this “cloud of clouders” a tag cloud or a keyword cloud? I think it’s neither. Because, tag clouds are based on tagging while keyword clouds are based on converting of text within a page, article or book. However, a cloud created using the names of an entity with some metric of those entities as cloud frequency can probably called as “metric cloud” or “statistical cloud”.
ToCloud.com has extended the Tag Cloud mashup with Google Suggest to now support exploring Amazon Products from the Tag Cloud. This gives an opportunity for bloggers to quickly check what kind of products correspond to their blogging content. This is useful for people considering placing affiliate links to generate additional revenue.
Here is an example of Photo.net tag cloud and when you click on each link, you can choose either Google Suggest or Amazon to display the related content for each of the words in the cloud. When Amazon is chosen, it is also possible to pick the product category.
And Tag Cloud is also a Web 2.0 concept.
So, what if we combine these two together? You get Script.aculo.us effect on a Tag Cloud. That’s exactly what the ToCloud Keyword Cloud Generator has done. Here are a few examples.
Plusate Effect on My Blog
Grow Effect on Amazon Homepage
Shake Effect on MySpace.com
BlindDown Effect on Yahoo!
What happens if a keyword cloud or a tag cloud is mixed with Google Suggest? You get a Cloud Suggest. The motivation behind this is that say you have a tag cloud of your blog. The cloud gives you and your readers a quick idea of what topics you mostly cover in your blog. But what if you or your readers want to know what are the popular searches related to those tags? That’s where you can make use of Google Suggest. ToCloud.com seems to be the first keyword cloud generator that has this Cloud Suggest idea. So, once a cloud is generated, clicking on any of the word/phrase opens a popup that fetches suggestions for that word/phrase from Google Suggest.
Creating a keyword cloud from a page shouldn’t be that hard as it just involves breaking up the text into words, then counting the frequency of the words and then finally displaying them as a cloud. That’s it. Right? Wrong!
A keyword cloud can be made more sophisticated. Some of the features to keep in mind are
1. preserving case for abbreviations. So, for example, if there is a web page about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), then when creating a cloud of that web page should not be displaying it as seo but as SEO. This is very important as people are more used to seeing any abbreviation in uppercase and not lower case.
2. displaying the keywords in the order of their occurance in the page. Wondering why this may be useful? Say you have a blog which contains the most recent blogs at the top of the page. Obviously, you then may want a cloud that provides keywords of your recent articles first and then subsequent keywords.
3. one of the most difficult parts of the keyword cloud generation is the extraction of phrases. ToCloud.com now has the capability to extract meaningful keyword phrases from a page and so my blog’s keyword cloud starts showing up keyword phrases (click the My Blog To Cloud link to see this in action).
Earlier I discussed tag cloud algirhtim/logic/formula and talked about linear and logarithmic interpolation. The difference in visualization can be viewed at ToCloud.com that takes any URL and converts into a tag cloud with various options for interpolation and sorting. In addition, there is an interesting concept of comparing two pages in a single keyword cloud. And also the ability to take tag summary pages from del.icio.us or slashdot and turn them into clouds to give clouds within tags or what is referred as sub-tags. Even daily news can be converted into keyword clouds.