I recently launched a new website with a friend of mine. A bit of a pet project I guess you could call it : www.realestatesource.com.au. I decided to use tag clouds to help generate natural search traffic. Can tag clouds help your website? Did they help mine?

Realestatesource is simple (initially) site devoted to Australian real estate and property news and information. We launched with about 300 articles, and since then have been publishing quite frequently (at least a few times per day).

I needed to ensure that the site was indexed well in Google, and would generate some good natural search traffic until we could effectively monetise our pages and use some PPC marketing to boost traffic (and revenue) further.

The Content Mangement System of choice was Joomla; easy to set up, easy to customise with add-on modules and components.

One of the modules available was a tag clouds module. I installed it to ensure we had more pages indexed in Google, and more traffic. So in effect, this is a short review of the ‘tag clouds’ feature and its performance for me so far. has it worked? So far yes, apart from a few small negatives…

Firstly, this tag cloud module (found here) generates a tag cloud automatically for you. Some tag clouds generate their tags based on site searches, but I didn’t have visitors yet to generate searches!

So, this module scans your site content and chooses the most commonly used terms from that. You can change variables, exclude words etc, and this works well to generate a tag cloud list.

So how does this generate more search traffic? 

Well, each page generates its own set of tags. These tags I have positioned at the bottom of the site (as I don’t think too many users will click on them). Each tag links to a site search for the tag term.

So, the tag ‘property’ links to a site search for articles with ‘property’ in them. Googlebot will follow this URL, and index the search result page as a unique page (because the content is unique).

Browsers searching Google for the term ‘property’ (or similar) may therefore be more likely to find my site.

Results?

So far, I have about 600 articles on the site, but over 4000 pages in the Google index (and growing). Most of these pages arethese search result pages frm the tag cloud module. As there are so many unique and commonly used terms in our content, many tags are generated.

Traffic has been consistently growing, up to around 500 visits per day now (we launched in November). Of this, from a low of 44 visits per day from Google to these Search URLs, I am recieving about 100 visitors per day to them. The rest of the traffic is arriving at our article URLs (which admittedly are much better SEOd, with article title and keywords in the URL, page title etc).

So, about 20% of our inbound Google traffic is arriving at our tag cloud search result pages.

Negatives?

As I mentioned at the beginning there are a few negatives.

The amount of traffic these tags generate could be improved by :

  • Many of the tags aren’t very ‘real estate’ in nature, so some traffic arriving from Google isn’t well targeted.
  • Instead of generating single word terms like ‘property’, generate multiple word terms, or even just word pairs
  • Modify the search result page to have a dynamic page title, and some other SEO elements
  • Improve the standard Joomla search component (it really needs it)

These are items that I might be able to address if I learn a little more PHP (or buy a friend a few beers to get it done).
What does all this mean for you?

Simply, content is king. If you have some good content, find some different ways to present it (grouped by topic, keyword/tag, or other) and ensure Google and other search engines can index it.

Tag cloud code can be found on the net (have a Google for some), or you can spend some time to generate some of your own SEO pages. This can be as simple as adding some of your own ‘search’ links at the bottom of a website (see bottom of page), or generating large sets of dynamically built SEO pages to present your site data in topics that will result in some real boosts in search traffic.

More on that in another post, but for now, maybe you can make use of some tag clouds to provide a traffic boost for your site too?