ActiveRain: Using 'no index' tags to drive more traffic

Services for Real Estate Pros with ActiveRain

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.

Posted by

Bob Stewart
ActiveRain Ambassador


 Make sure you check out the ActiveRain Facebook Page

Follow Me on Facebook

Comments (90)

Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate

Thanks for the hard work all you guys are putting in.  If it helps, then I'm all for it!

Sep 27, 2008 04:37 AM
Chuck Willman
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Zooooooooom. <------- That's the sound your post made as it went way over my head. Even so... I trust that y'all know what you're doing... so thanks for changing that, uh, thing, so that we could, uh, get better results.

Sep 27, 2008 09:56 AM

I'm glad you and Rand can explain it so well ... I listened to it enough times that I think I'm beginning to understand what's happening ... thanks for making it better for us - especially the technically-challenged ones, like moi. :)

Sep 27, 2008 11:52 AM
Judy Tuscano
Prudential Verani Realty - Nottingham, NH
NH Real Estate Professional

Bob - Thanks for the explanation - I don't know much about the inner workings of search engines and i for one an glad you and your staff do so I can keep blogging and hopefully because of yor ongoing effort get found.

Sep 29, 2008 01:38 AM
Jane Page Thompson
Aiken Properties - Aiken, SC

Bob, I was just at a NAR sponsored training session and when the topic of digital media venues, that help the member, came up Active Rain was noted by all bloggers as the most reliable(even with Proxy errors) and the best one to learn on and the easiest to find info on- CONGRATS for being so well thought of by the agent members!

Sep 30, 2008 01:44 PM
Kent Simpson
Realty One Group Mountain Desert - Tucson, AZ
Real Estate Is About People

So the old adage of "Less Is More" is applicable?  Just when I think I'm starting to understand a little bit... oh well, it keeps things interesting!  LOL  Thanks for the update, Bob.

Oct 03, 2008 09:54 AM
Michael Sahlman - Keller Williams Realty - Miami Beach, FL
e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes

Sounds like a good idea. Now I actually have to listen to the whole video!

Oct 03, 2008 11:19 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I didn't know why the change was made, and appreciate the explanation, which I am happy to say I mostly understand.


Oct 05, 2008 12:13 PM
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

Okay Bob - thanks for explaining, but I am still totally confused.  I read a post somewhere recently that said we need to make sure that there were not no follow tage.  That post confused me as well.  Anyway I think I'll just trust that you guys know what you are doing.  Thanks for looking out for us.

Oct 09, 2008 02:56 PM
Rob Dalton
Waikoloa Vacation Rentals - Waikoloa, HI
Big Island Vacation Rental Guru

Can anyone explain no follow links to me or is there a blog or site where I can learn about them?

Oct 12, 2008 10:24 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


Okay. So I gather my famous booger tag is no longer of any use to anyone. Oh well. At least I had it out there long enough to crack a few people up :)


Oct 12, 2008 11:27 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


When all else fails I guess I could resort to doing this CLICK :)

A smart man would tell the blogger who is doing that to cut the crap :)

P.S. I bet right about now you're re-thinking that whole miss me thing. Wink.


Oct 12, 2008 11:44 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

I am sure that you know a lot more about this than I do, so if you say this is better for our blogs, I am all for it.  Thanks.

Oct 14, 2008 08:52 AM
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., ABR, GRI, SRES - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

Sounds like the content on Active Rain will be more organized with this approach but it will take some getting used to!

Oct 15, 2008 08:31 AM
Colleen Lane
Kennewick Richland (and West) Pasco WA Homes For Sale - Kennewick, WA
Realtor(r) 509.438.9344
Is there a way of deleting tags? When I first started out, I didn't understand the concept of a tag. With a little more experience, I've found my tags to be for the most part useless, especially since the tag pages are no longer indexed.
Oct 15, 2008 12:00 PM
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ

Bob, though this is a bit confusing to me - I trust that you are all doing the right thing. Sometimes when I read stuff here on the Rain, I get that glazed look....know what I mean? ;-)  Anyway, one thought I did have was to wonder if we need/should/can go back and sort our past blogs into the categories, channels, topics you mention? ;-)


Oct 18, 2008 11:22 AM
Sabrina Kelley
ERA Herman Group Real Estate - Woodland Park, CO
Woodland Park Colorado Mountain Homes and Land

I had not read your blog for some time and I am glad I came back. I trust that AR knows what it is doing when it comes to getting pages to come up as search results. The system you describe sounds like it can only help the community.

Oct 21, 2008 02:44 PM
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Bob: I am not quite sure how I even found this post, but... I see that I am coming to it nine months late. I actually understood a bit of it... but I have a suggestion.

Is there any way that after a post like this... that is not a BEGINNING or entry-level post about whatever the content is... could the writer, or one of the community builder people make a list of a few links at the bottom of the post... that I, or someone, could go to, that would show videos or explanations that would lay the groundwork or foundation for that particular post.

It could be something like this. Note: IF you would like more information to help you understand this post, click on the following links for some more basic information on the subject.

Then... list the links... Or... perhaps inserting more links in the body of the post... when the post itself mentions something that the reader might not understand.

Thanks a bunch. May 27, 2009

May 26, 2009 05:00 PM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Are Channels everything you hoped for?  I had read this when you posted it.  I am not sure I had read Brad's post...  comments are gone so I can not see if I stopped by to say "Great Post thanks for sharing" or even to ask questions. 

Brad said in the post:

"Each Channel will offer three "Topic" links to the side, these are the most popular topics in that channel.  Keep Topic title's short.  There will soon be a text auto-fill displayed as you begin to type in topics.  Any previously entered topic will begin to display as you type, just as tags do now.  The "Topics" most written about will be the ones displayed on these links."

That last part is not true today is it?  

The "Topics" most written about will be the ones displayed on these links."

For example the ActiveRain Channel has

  • Listing Router
  • ActiveBlogs
  • Contest

and in fact the top three most popular Topics are

  •  Real Estate
  •  Humor
  •  Market Reports

in a professional channel.  Market Reports in a Professional Channel? 

Is it our creativity or lack of direction reading? 

Are ActiveBlogs our ActiveRain blogs or our Outside blogs or both? 

I think Channels and Topics  works for driving traffic to our Outside blogs or would that traffic be there without channels / Topics which become Categories on the Outside Blogs?



Jan 03, 2010 04:35 AM
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Talking to myself  here already and since the recent server problems you are not goiing to have anyway to know this is here.

A social media guru recently advised:

"Thirdly, the channels have nothing to do with outside blogs being indexed or anyhting.  The channels are just ways for AR to categorize the stuff in the network.  So that if someone wants to search one specific subject alone they can. Consumers will still find the stuff on their own through Google, etc.  "

I will be blogging about this. 

I think Channels and Topics do matter to the search engines on our Outside Blogs.  I think if Jenny K had had Categories showing on her Outside Blog she would not have thrown in the towel and canceled her Outside blog.

I know when I did not have Categories showing on my Outside Blogs Google could not find them.


May 05, 2010 11:06 PM

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?