Marshalrusty wrote:"SEO" is a fully nebulous term, typically meaning whatever the speaker has convinced themselves falls under "best practices", and those are all derived from conjecture.
I think the big problem with SEO is that there is "black hat SEO" and "white hat SEO" and while "white hat SEO" is generally a way to make a website better for the users (with a knock-on effect of getting a better page rank) "black hat SEO" is *all* about tricking search engines to list pages higher and tricking search engine users into clicking links.
The white hat techniques are about making your content itself better, so they are not likely to change. They will not pull in 300,000 visitors, because they are all about making your website the best it can be. They will bring in whatever is the right amount of visitors for your unique subject.
The black hat techniques are deception. They might bring in 300,000 visitors, but they are primarily going to be visitors who leave and never come back. Not only is this sort of thing unethical, it is also a waste of the bandwidth on your server. 300,000 pings on your server is going to cause your server to be doing more work and slowing down. And if you have a fixed amount of bandwidth it could actually cost you money to have 300,000 visits by strangers who are not members of your forum.
"SEO experts" may tell you that you want "as many visitors as possible", but what you actually need if you run a forum is to attract experts in your chosen field who will sign up to your forum, become a valued member of your community and come back and post on a regular basis. You need to also attract people who wish to learn about your chosen field and who enjoy talking to the experts you have attracted. Together those people need to form a community that values each other.
The size of an online community is not 300,000 or any other number that SEO salesmen might throw at you. It is totally dependent on how obscure or common your chosen field is.
I use a few SEO techniques on the forum I help out on. These include:
- Editing posts and thread titles that have mistyped keywords in them and fixing the typos,
- Keeping an eye out for poor thread titles (like "please help") and changing those into something that matches the actual topic and
- Looking for high quality resources elsewhere, writing my own threads about them and linking to them.
All three of those things are not just aimed at search engine bots, they also have a direct impact on the users of my forum.
Fixing typos helps the people in my community to use phpBBs search system. Fixing poor-quality thread titles means that people can find topics more easily and writing about cool things means that the other people in my community find out about cool stuff and are happy.
In contrast with stuff like this, changing the format of a URL does not seem to me to have any actual positive impact on the user experience of an actual forum user.
And with my direct experience of how many typos and poor quality names I've seen and fixed in thread titles, I honestly hope that phpBB will stick with the "&f=xx&t=yyy" system that I know and love. Right now, I have the ability to fix less-than-optimal things posted by forum members. But if poor titles or typos get hard coded into URLs, that would actually make my SEO efforts harder not