We recently made a change in the architecture of our site. I'm sure you have seen the new channels feature. If not, you can read about it here. In doing so, we also made some decisions about the site structure in order to get better search engine results for the fantastic content you are writing. One thing that we did, that has had a few of our members asking questions, is add 'no follow' tags to the tag links. We have also added 'no index' tags to the tag pages.
Why the heck would we hide the tag pages from the search engines you might ask? To drive more traffic and create a better user experience.
We have a lot of content on the site. We are constantly trying to find new ways to get your content to rank higher in the search engines. With the advent of Channels and topics, we now have a more direct structure for search engine spiders to find and index your content. Internal site link structure is an important component of search engine optimization. The more focused you can make the internal link structure of the site, the easier it is for the search engines to index content.
Prior to channels and topics, tags were a way that similar content was housed. Our tag pages stunk in the search engine results. There is no other way to put it, they just plain stunk. We have some tag pages that house hundreds of articles about a particular topic and yet never returned search engine results or traffic to the site. In recent tests of certain search terms, your particular blog post on a topic or just your blog page will return results in every instance and the tag pages for the exact terms you were tagging with do not show.
Our tag pages appeared to google and other search engines as search results or a directory of results. Google doesn't like pages that act in this manner. If you were to look at a tag page, you will see that the content is truncated and only snippets of the content are displayed.
The new topic pages act much more like a living blog with fresh, fully displayed content about a particular topic. The structure of the channel and topic pages make a much more fluid path to you content, allowing search engine bots to access and index your content easier. It is our belief that the long tail results for these topics page will far outweigh the traffic driven by the tag pages (which won't be tough, since the tag pages stunk, remember)
At the same time, leaving the existing tag structure in place to be indexed points the search engines in too many directions. We want to focus the traffic and the results to one area; an area that is better able to be indexed.
The tags still serve a purpose for the readers of your blogs. They organize content on your blog in an easy to find format. If you have ten blog posts about the home buying process, you still want all ten of those posts tagged with 'home buying' so that consumers who find your blog will be able to access similar content you have written on subjects.
There is a TON of information out there about search engine optimization. Everyone has an opinion of what works and what doesn't work. This is our opinion. If you don't like it, feel free to leave your comment here.......or better yet, get the heck off my blog, go build your own site and give it your best shot to get the kind of results we are getting for 111,000 people , many of whom don't know SEO from SEC. (That was a joke.......kind of........if you've read this far, my editor (Jon) felt you deserved a joke......and he might have suggested heck over a different word).
Here is a video that talks about 'content categorization for SEO' from the brains behind SEOmoz. If I haven't put you to sleep yet, then Rand does a better job of explaining on the whiteboard some of the thinking behind this concept.