ArcGIS Online

Using tags effectively

Tags can be added to any item, and are a useful way to quickly and easily identify and find specific content that you own, or content found within your organization or ArcGIS Online. There are a number of approaches to using tags effectively, and thinking in advance about how you want to use tags to identify and discover your assets will help you decide what is best for you and your organization. Here are a few considerations and tips for using tags.

Add and edit tags

You can add or edit tags when you create a map, app, or layer. You will be prompted to enter tags, and can choose from existing tags previously used or can enter a new tag. Begin typing to find an existing tag or create a new one, click the X following the tag to remove it.

You can also add or edit tags by editing your item details. Tags can be found in the item Overview tab.

Tags are located down along the right side. Click the pencil to edit tags.

Search using tags

Each item in ArcGIS Online has a title, summary, description, and other information. When you enter a string in Search, all of these fields are scanned for a match, including the tags. Close matches are also returned via stemming, which finds derivative and closely related words.

For example, searching for “snow removal” will find anything that matches from all the available item information. Results are organized by the default of relevance, or your choice of title, owner, rating, views, and date.

If you want to search for a specific tag, use the keyword tags: in your search string as shown below. For tags using multiple words include surrounding quotes.

Create your own tag library

If you want to pre-define a collection of tags to choose from, one technique you can use is to add all the tags you want to any private item you own. Use the private item only as your tag storage. When you add or edit your items, all the tags will be available when you add or edit tags (see Add and edit tags above).

Don’t tag on me

When you save a map authored by someone else, existing tags will come along. Shown below are the numerous tags that accompany the USA Tapestry Segmentation map from the Living Atlas.

Tags are also added automatically to analysis layers. For example, the tags below were automatically added to an analysis layer after buffering store locations.

And tags will be also be automatically added when publishing from ArcGIS Desktop, or authoring Story Maps.

These automatically inserted tags may not be desired, or needed, so can be trimmed down and edited to suit your needs and preferences. If you want to locate the map or items easily, consider adding a very specific tag (or tags) that makes sense to you to help you find it.

Tags start at the source

When adding ArcGIS Server web services directly from the REST endpoint as items, the tags are automatically generated from the listed Keywords in the Document Info section of the service details found the server’s Services Directory.

For example, below is the Document Info section for the Soil Survey map service:

When the service is added as an item from the Web, the keywords are used to automatically populate the item tags, as shown below:

Edit the item tags as desired.

Tags and item information

Tags play a role in the Item Information progress bar found in the item details Overview tab.

Three tags are suggested, but use your own judgement and follow your own tag guidelines. The tags you specify should correspond to keywords you think people will use to search for your item. See Item details for more information.

Tag tips

Since an overall Search considers all fields, it’s not important to use tags that may already appear in your item title, summary, or description. Tags may be more effective if they are used to logically and uniquely identify items you may want to discover separately from other items. But that said, adding tags using words that have been used elsewhere will elevate the item in search. A tag of “test” will push the item further down in the search results.

For example, for items belonging to departments tag using the department name (“Planning Department”) For tagging items pertaining to individual projects use the name of the project (“Memorial Hospital Construction”) Or tag using themes (“habitat protection”) or anything else that might make for a useful unique search. A little thought about how you and other organization members may want to discover items will help come up with a list of useful tags.

Other recommendations:

For more information

This post was originally published on January 30, 2017, and has been updated.

About the author

Tech evangelist and product strategist at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping users succeed with the ArcGIS Platform. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Follow @bernszukalski or email


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