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ZoomClouds offers both ready-made and customizable tag cloud solutions for your WordPress, TypePad, or Movable Type based blog. And it’s FREE! The tag cloud is generated based on your site’s RSS feed and uses the Yahoo! Content Analysis API plus a proprietary content analysis API. You can choose the depth of content that should be used to generate the tag cloud. For example, you can generate a tag cloud based on the last 24 hours, last 30 days, or last 90 days worth of blog posts. However, this does not imply immediate results. Says a FAQ entry:
Some people mistakenly think that if they select “Forever” the cloud they immediately get is based on everything they’ve published on their entire blog since day 1, or if they select “the last 365″ the cloud they get right away is based on the last year, and so on.
That’s not true.
When you create your cloud, ZoomClouds will go and fetch your feed, and the cloud that you get at that moment is based only on whatever content is in your feed at that time, which usually is the last 10-15 posts. What the “Days worth” option indicates is, as time goes by, how many days worth of content you want your cloud to reflect from the date you create your cloud.
It’s one of those self-learning algorithms. A perfectly valid approach in this situation.
Once you have keyed in your site details, you get a WYSIWYG editor to design the tag cloud layout. You can customize a whole bunch of things including the number of tags in the cloud, width of the cloud, minimum and maximum font sizes, border thickness, background and tag colors, etc.
Here are a couple of designs I experimented with:
Not too bad eh?
ZoomClouds then lets you share your tag cloud design with other users and equivalently you can search the existing database of shared tag cloud designs until one catches your fancy. Finally, you get a block of code that you need to directly copy-paste to your site layout.
Further customization is possible. For example, you can set filters to selectively add or remove tags. This is a useful-to-have feature because the ZoomClouds engine is sometimes not very good at guessing tags – at least in the early stages. For example, poor fish, higher each time, ridiculous, etc. are really not tags that will excite your blog’s visitors. You might want to filter these manually till the engine’s learning algorithm takes over (see this FAQ entry). There’s also a “Stats” page that lets you track clickthroughs on your tags. If you’re interested, you can spend time poring over the statistics and then fine tuning your tag list.
Overall ZoomClouds is a quick and painless tag cloud solution for your blog. I am, at present, using a plugin called Ultimate Tag Warrior to generate the tags for this blog. It’s really not working too well. I am soon going to switch to ZoomClouds.
Since I am now a student at a B-school, I usually try and analyze how a business is making money. Here’s something of interest from ZoomClouds’ FAQ.
ZoomClouds is and will always be free. We might add a paid version in the future that would include features not available yet, but what you see today (and other things we plan to add soon) is and will continue to be 100% free. At this point we do not include any kind of advertising anywhere.
We will never include ads in your tag clouds without your approval! If we ever offer such optional feature, it will be completely up to you, and as a way to share revenue with you. And if you’d rather keep your cloud ad-free, then your cloud will continue being ad-free for as long as you like, and for free of course, no strings attached of any kind.
It’s a typical web-based business model. A cut-down but functional free version and a souped-up feature-rich paid version.
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