SEF/SEO URLs

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stevemaury
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by stevemaury »

The proof of it is in the fact that posts from here are indexed within minutes. I know that the popularity of the site means the Googlebot lives here, but if the form of the url were a problem that would not matter.

Bots are not people. They do not care what a link looks like. They follow the links. People do not read links as if they were fortune cookies - they click on them.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Dog Cow »

Kevin Clark wrote: Google and other search engines don't care what the URL says.
No, that's not true. Keywords which appear in the URL are considered.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by KevC »

Then SEO URLs would make a significant difference. They don't.

One of the sites I run has a rival site on exactly the same subject. We have very similar user numbers and posts (in fact they have slightly more posts than me) and both boards have been running for pretty much the same amount of time give or take a couple of months.

I run standard phpBB with no SEO changes at all.
They run the SEO MOD.

For the same search query on google I rank above them. If SEO friendly page links made a significant difference they would be above me.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by stokerpiller »

stevemaury wrote:The proof of it is in the fact that posts from here are indexed within minutes. I know that the popularity of the site means the Googlebot lives here, but if the form of the url were a problem that would not matter.
You are both right and wrong.
Googlebot lives here and the site benefits from it because it gets better indexed.
But that is not the proof that SEO urls do no good, because you dont really have any competition on the search terms used for phpbb.
Indexing is not the same as ranking.
Dog Cow wrote:No, that's not true. Keywords which appear in the URL are considered.
So very true.


The downside with these automatic generated SEO urls is that they are hard to control, and therefore its hard to benefit from them.
But when it is perfectly controlled, you can certainly benefit from it.

All these SEO tools are not magic. If you arent skilled to use them, then you wont benefit from using them.
On the other hand, if you are skilled to use them....
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Dog Cow »

Kevin Clark wrote:Then SEO URLs would make a significant difference. They don't.
Google's own documentation says otherwise.
Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as the anchor text. If your URL
contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the
page than an ID or oddly named parameter would.

The highlighted words above could inform a user or search engine what the target page is
about before following the link

Lastly, remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a search result in Google, below
the document's title and snippet. Like the title and snippet, words in the URL on the search result
Source: http://static.googleusercontent.com/ext ... -guide.pdf
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by KevC »

As I said, the apparent difference from my own experience is that they don't.

VB doesn't use it by default, neither does wordpress, or UBB or SMF or myBB....

If it made a significant difference do you think they'd all be using it?
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Pony99CA »

Dog Cow wrote:
Kevin Clark wrote:Then SEO URLs would make a significant difference. They don't.
Google's own documentation says otherwise.
Not really. It says that it provides more information (if somebody is lazy and doesn't create good anchor text), but it doesn't specifically state that it improves search ranking, much less making a "significant difference", does it?
And look what happens in the forum when somebody doesn't post good anchor text -- the URL got truncated and "important" text got replaced with an ellipsis (in this case, everything about "SEO"). The only way to see the full URL (without actually visiting the page or quoting the post) is looking at the status bar while hovering over the link (and that still depends on having a very wide browser -- the URL is truncated in my usual Firefox configuration).

Of course, regardless of the URL, search engines will still visit the link and extract what they think is the important text from the page. Text in the URL itself is probably a small difference at best.

Here's challenge for those who think that it matters. Create a URL with "human readable" text that points to a page containing something with lots of keywords completely unrelated to the URL. Then create a human readable URL containing one or two of the keywords in the page that points to the same page (in a different file, of course). Finally, create a URL like phpBB does that points to the same page. Then see how they rank.

For example, create a URL like http://example.com/unicorns_are_lovely_creatures.html that points to a page about cars. Then create a URL like http://example.com/cool_cars_are_fun.html that points to the exact same content. Finally, create a URL like http://example.com/viewtopic.html?f=64&t=54 that points to the exact same content.

See if Google ranks them significantly apart.

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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Dog Cow »

Pony99CA wrote:
Dog Cow wrote:
Kevin Clark wrote:Then SEO URLs would make a significant difference. They don't.
Google's own documentation says otherwise.
Not really. It says that it provides more information (if somebody is lazy and doesn't create good anchor text), but it doesn't specifically state that it improves search ranking, much less making a "significant difference", does it?
I disagree.
this provides users and search engines with more information about the
page than an ID or oddly named parameter would.
Gooooogle are purposely being vague.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Pony99CA »

Dog Cow wrote:
Pony99CA wrote:
Dog Cow wrote:
Kevin Clark wrote:Then SEO URLs would make a significant difference. They don't.
Google's own documentation says otherwise.
Not really. It says that it provides more information (if somebody is lazy and doesn't create good anchor text), but it doesn't specifically state that it improves search ranking, much less making a "significant difference", does it?
I disagree.
this provides users and search engines with more information about the
page than an ID or oddly named parameter would.
Gooooogle are purposely being vague.
Yes, and that vagueness means that they don't specifically state that it improves search ranking, much less making a "significant difference", as I said. So how can you disagree with me? :D

The real question is two-fold.
  1. How many people post "lazy" links (posting the URL only, instead of a better form)?

    Based on what I've seen here, I'd say a lot of people (hence all of the ugly "viewforum" and "viewtopic" links). (Not that using the longer URL tag form always works. "Click here" links are also useless.)
  2. How much does Google (or any other search engine) bump their ranking for having descriptive text in that URL (that matches keywords on the page linked to; I hope anchor text that's deceptive penalizes the page) compared to just having a gobbledy-gook URL?

    Unless somebody can prove otherwise, I think that the consensus here is "not much". But that's why I suggested that experiment.
If that second "answer" is wrong, Kevin's argument asserting more board software would use reader-friendly URLs makes sense.

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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by joshgibbs »

I'd like to throw in my opinion on this topic since I've spent most of the day hunting down a way to implement SEF URL's on my board. My desire for these is not directly related to the discussion at hand, but it requires the same technology.

I need to analyze where people are spending their time on my forums using google analytics. This reports visitors by the URL that they are hitting. Right now, all I have is a bunch of database ID's that I have to cross reference to see what people are doing. SEF URL's would solve this problem for me, and anyone else that is interested in, or needs to analyze, what visitors are doing.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by forumpojken »

If SEF url´s gives better results on google or not shouldnt really matter for coders/admins of phbb!

The fact that ALOT of people wants this feature should be enough to implant it as a default function!

Imagine an icecream-shop that refuses to have "Vanilla-flavour" just becouse the owner personally only like chocolate-icecream! Instead he tries to convince vanilla-wanting-customers that CHOCOLATE is much better! 8-)
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by stevemaury »

It has nothing to do with personal preference of the developers. Lots of people want a pony, too, but we don't include one. As I understand it, it is not included because we are not convinced that it has any advantage, or if it does, that that advantage is not outweighed by the drawbacks.

However, there is phpbb-seo.com, where you can get phpbb pre-modded with SEO, if that is what you want. Just be advised we do not support it.
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by OC2PS »

It seems like we are almost arguing over semantics here.

While the people for "Pretty URLs" point to the benefits, the phpBB folks say "SEO benefits are negligible if not none".

To me, it seems that there is not really a foolproof way of proving one way or the other. And if there were, I doubt that anyone would be so inclined to try it out....probably running the test would take more manhours than acually developing the feature.

I've been working with OpenSource software and SEO for a while now, and see that more and more scripts come with "Pretty URLs" as standard.

I think that the reason is that a lot of users feel more comfortable with Pretty URLs, and thus can help the OpenSource scripts that have the feaure out-of-the-box more popular. While phpBB stands head and shoulders above the other forum software, it would be a mistake to get complacent/arrogant and to take this position for granted.

Regarding actual SEO benefits, I can't help but think that ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, pages with "Pretty URLs" would rank above pages without them.

At the very least, Google SERP highlights keywords in URLs, which by itself may be considered as benefit enough by many phpBB users.

The most important thing for SEO is relevant content, and if you can't get that right, no amount of Pretty URLs or titles would help. But for phpBB installations that don't have idiot users that create topics called "Help" a million times, "Pretty URLs" could be helpful, albeit to a limited extent.

I understand that "but it doesn't hurt" is not a good argument for inclusion of a feature in the core. However, I do implore the development team to consider the request of so many users and give SERIOUS THOUGHT to this feature (please no cute rejoinders like "many users have asked for it but many users haven't asked for it"...would those who haven't asked for the feature mind having the option?)

Ulimately it may not be as complicated to implement as you believe - I think the "pretty URLs" pack on SMF does the job very well. All URLs are unique, well-managed, and unchanging.

In fact, I think that SMFs extension system is far superior to that of phpBB...there are no code mods there at all, and nothing to download and upload - you can just browse packages and install from the admin panel. Unfortunatey, the mod system at phpBB makes me nervous...and is also the reason why I can't use a mod with phpBB when it comes to "Pretty URLs"..what if it breaks when I upgrade?
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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by Pony99CA »

sooskriszta wrote:But for phpBB installations that don't have idiot users that create topics called "Help" a million times, "Pretty URLs" could be helpful, albeit to a limited extent.
But what boards are those? Even here, where most people posting are board admins (or potential admins) and should know better, we still get a lot of those topics.
sooskriszta wrote:I understand that "but it doesn't hurt" is not a good argument for inclusion of a feature in the core. However, I do implore the development team to consider the request of so many users and give SERIOUS THOUGHT to this feature (please no cute rejoinders like "many users have asked for it but many users haven't asked for it"...would those who haven't asked for the feature mind having the option?)
Probably not, but that's not the only question. Another question is what priority to give it in the development cycle. Development time for a release a finite, so is it worth adding Readable URLs more than creating a hooking system to make MODs easier? Is it worth more than any other frequently requested feature?
sooskriszta wrote:Ulimately it may not be as complicated to implement as you believe - I think the "pretty URLs" pack on SMF does the job very well. All URLs are unique, well-managed, and unchanging.
By "implement", do you mean development time or user installation/setup time? Whether SMF does it well does not mean that it's not difficult to develop.
sooskriszta wrote:In fact, I think that SMFs extension system is far superior to that of phpBB...there are no code mods there at all, and nothing to download and upload - you can just browse packages and install from the admin panel. Unfortunatey, the mod system at phpBB makes me nervous...and is also the reason why I can't use a mod with phpBB when it comes to "Pretty URLs"..what if it breaks when I upgrade?
Yes, if it is done, it should definitely be a core feature, but let's not discuss the MOD system here. The aforementioned hook system will improve things. If this could be done by hooking, it would be a good candidate for an official plug-in.

If you want to see how what seems to be a very good phpBB Readable URL feature looks like, check out Dog Cow's URLs. I've asked if it could be made into a MOD (understanding that, as we've agreed, a MOD won't work for everybody), but haven't heard back.

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Re: SEF/SEO URLs

Post by OC2PS »

Steve,

Thanks for the note. I am not advocating prioritizing Pretty URLs over anything else. I'm just requesting that the development team give this feature a serious thought, without personal prejudices, that's all.
Pony99CA wrote:
sooskriszta wrote:But for phpBB installations that don't have idiot users that create topics called "Help" a million times, "Pretty URLs" could be helpful, albeit to a limited extent.
But what boards are those? Even here, where most people posting are board admins (or potential admins) and should know better, we still get a lot of those topics.
I think what needs to be understood is that many of us are not looking to get 100% of our topics indexed and ranked high by Google. Even if 90% of the stuff on our forums is trash and only 10% has good titles and Pretty URLs can somehow help us rank higher than COMPARABLE competitors on those, then that's a big win for us small businesses.

As for the mod system, if we got a good plugin/extension system like SMF, that would take away a million problems...it is scary to mod phpBB because even though I've been assured elsewhere that mods don't break when upgrading doesn't break/lose mods, I'm quite scared that it would...changing core files always seems a bad idea to me....non-programmer's anxiety maybe...(I think I'll wait till 3.1.x to make the move to phpBB)

Definitely the hook system should be priority number ONE. However, even with that system in place, I'd say the developers should CONSIDER including a Pretty URL option in core...because if in the future an upgrade breaks a Pretty URLs plugin, then that won't be pretty...

Cheers,
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