Sorry to be thick, but do the tags influence how google et al index it, or is it only an internal hubpages thing?
Yes it is for google and all and every search engine to index through the use of tags!!
As Waynet says it does affect search engine ranking etc so it is definately worth getting it correct.
I think the tags are ideas of the article and it is the key words that drives Google Adsense. The former deals with the actual people reading the hub and the latter deals with the Google "bot" that does not search for quality but relevance to keywords. That is the reason you can write a lot about a topic and get many readers but only get maybe one click onto a Google Keyword.
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