Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

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SamG
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by SamG »

HB wrote:

Code: Select all

Have you read this thread? I think you'll find it interesting: 
http://www.phpbb.com/community/out-of-the box-phpBB3-is-awful-for-SEO-t552307.html
Forget for a moment whether search engines are happier with the first or second. Which is more user friendly?
Beyond the technical considerations, my question has always been, "Does link treatment like that take into adequate consideration the potentially volatile nature of bulletin board posts?" Blogs are fairly static in comparison, and this kind of link treatment may be more fitting (and AFAIK, was born) in that environment. Blogs don't experience edits, splits, merges, title revisions, and other assorted moderated discussion issues like bulletin boards do. It's not clear to me how this kind of link treatment would be an SEO asset in a moderated environment.
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Techie-Micheal
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by Techie-Micheal »

SamG wrote:
HB wrote:

Code: Select all

Have you read this thread? I think you'll find it interesting: 
http://www.phpbb.com/community/out-of-the box-phpBB3-is-awful-for-SEO-t552307.html
Forget for a moment whether search engines are happier with the first or second. Which is more user friendly?
Beyond the technical considerations, my question has always been, "Does link treatment like that take into adequate consideration the potentially volatile nature of bulletin board posts?" Blogs are fairly static in comparison, and this kind of link treatment may be more fitting (and AFAIK, was born) in that environment. Blogs don't experience edits, splits, merges, title revisions, and other assorted moderated discussion issues like bulletin boards do. It's not clear to me how this kind of link treatment would be an SEO asset in a moderated environment.
Nevermind that I find overly long links like that actually have the opposite of the intended effect. If I tell someone on the team go to topic id 1236544, they can. They have no need to know the name of the topic. Besides, topic titles change as SamG said with splitting, moving, merging, etc.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by Aberdeenseo »

We have only just started with phpBB and as SEO experts, there is nothing wrong with this version!

As others have said just adjust the headers, keywords can be changed, title and description.

After only 11 days from opening we are listed on both Google and Yahoo for what is very competive keyword terms and are already highly placed and climbing!

Now comes the bit that most wont like, its not everyone that knows how to SEO correctly we own hundreds of SEO Validated websites thats top of all search engines using SEO ONLY!
First its a craft then its website design and on that topic phpBB 3 IS JUST DANDY!

We intend to prove it and put you guys on top of the Validation world. :D ;)

Kind regards,
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by darrennye »

Interesting topic.

Here are the SEO Best Practices that my company uses. Perhaps it would be useful for phpBB to review common techniques and try implementing some of them.


SEO Best Practices:

1. Put key words (and phrases) in the <Title> of each page. This should normally be automated (retrieved from the Page Title) – but some projects may allow the User to specify an optional Title for each page via the Admin.
2. Put key words and phrases in the <Meta keyword/description> tags on every page. Google ignores the META Keywords, but they DO read and use the Description.
3. Ideally keywords used in the Titles should match the Description keywords, as well as content on the page, particularly <h1> and <h2> header content (see #5).
4. Repeat the same key words several times within the content/text of each page, but repeat in different areas. These key words should be the same or similar to those used in the page titles. This is really a Chris M or a Copywriter’s job.
5. Use the key words/phrases in Headings on each page (H1, H2, H3, etc.). Subject or Product Categories on a page (or the sub-page name, etc) should use a Keyword if possible, surrounded by H1 or H2 tags. These keywords should also be in the Title and Description if possible.
6. Use the key words/phrases in the anchor text/titles of links (<a href> tags). Create internal cross-links using these key words and phrases in the anchor text. So on links to other pages, ideally those links would have a Keyword as the anchor text.
7. Use the key words/phrases in Alt Tags on images. Ideally they should also match keywords used in the Titles, Description, Page Content, etc.
8. Code search-engine-friendly URLs that do not include extensive query strings. If using PHP, use mod_rewrite to allow dynamic Web pages to be found by search engines.
9. Keep as much content/text as possible toward the top of the page, and HTML/PHP code at the bottom.
10. Put at least 250 words of text on any page that should be indexed well. (This is also the task of the copywriter.)
11. Keep the page's HTML size to 100kb or less.
12. Include a Site Map which indexes every major page on the Web site. The link to the Site Map should ideally be in the top portion of the page. In addition, Google's Sitemap Protocol should be implemented for all new sites: http://google.com/webmasters/sitemaps
13. Use a "doctype" tag at the beginning of each page.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by HB »

Techie-Micheal wrote:Nevermind that I find overly long links like that actually have the opposite of the intended effect. If I tell someone on the team go to topic id 1236544, they can. They have no need to know the name of the topic. Besides, topic titles change as SamG said with splitting, moving, merging, etc.
Your point about topic splitting is well taken. Topics get moved, topics get renamed, topics get split, but how many in a typical forum? Even 5% seems a bit excessive. Any higher would be the sign of an admin who needs to relax. More to my point, I don't recommend designing to exceptions, though in my years in the I/T industry, I've noted countless times that programmers do and product designers don't (the best projects were when both types worked together, but I digress).

I haven't collected any formal data on my members' URL preference since switching to topic-injected URLs. When I first installed the phpBB-seo MODs, I also coded a short URL version for fans of sites like tinyurl (e.g., http://www.example.com/t1236544.html). Nobody used it, preferring the longer names. The longer URLs did have another user behavior impact. Because the URL was readable, usage of the blah blah blah tags dropped noticeably. I figured it would happen, unfortunately. The good news is that incoming links from other forums now had meaningful keywords.

In the end, I believe that "pretty URLs" are as much about window dressing for the users' pleasure as SEO. I don't consider it a must have for phpBB and never expected it to be in the base. The duplicate URLs problem mentioned earlier, however, is another story. Not because of the SEO angle, but the simple fact that it burns more server resources. I've measured the impact of bot traffic and for those on shared servers, I assure you that it matters in terms of overall responsiveness and the eventual need to upgrade.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by Techie-Micheal »

HB wrote:
Techie-Micheal wrote:Nevermind that I find overly long links like that actually have the opposite of the intended effect. If I tell someone on the team go to topic id 1236544, they can. They have no need to know the name of the topic. Besides, topic titles change as SamG said with splitting, moving, merging, etc.
Your point about topic splitting is well taken. Topics get moved, topics get renamed, topics get split, but how many in a typical forum? Even 5% seems a bit excessive. Any higher would be the sign of an admin who needs to relax. More to my point, I don't recommend designing to exceptions, though in my years in the I/T industry, I've noted countless times that programmers do and product designers don't (the best projects were when both types worked together, but I digress).
a, it is IT, not I/T. ;) b, moving, splitting, etc. happens quite a lot on a site like phpBB.com. It has nothing to do with admins needing to relax. It has to do with users not following the rules.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by HB »

Techie-Micheal wrote:b, moving, splitting, etc. happens quite a lot on a site like phpBB.com. It has nothing to do with admins needing to relax. It has to do with users not following the rules.
True, so few read the rules before posting. It's also true is that moves, renames, splits, etc. only have any practical impact if the moved, renamed, or split post is linked elsewhere. Since (good) moderators make this decision early, there's no consequence to users. In the unlikely event that there's an incoming link created in the early days of a thread's existence, it's a trivial matter to redirect to its new "home" in viewtopic.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by SamG »

HB wrote:True, so few read the rules before posting. It's also true is that moves, renames, splits, etc. only have any practical impact if the moved, renamed, or split post is linked elsewhere. Since (good) moderators make this decision early, there's no consequence to users.
I think you oversimplify the actual possibilities. Moderation isn't just about sloppy posters or sloppy posts. For instance, for a while here at phpBB.com the policy was to change the title of most every addressed support topic by prepending "[Solved]" (a policy instituted by Bear, as I recall). I could go on: topics can get split or merged days after they were created; topics can get moved (along with a split or merge, before or after the move) as the topic develops.

The point isn’t about good or bad moderating styles but about the range of fluid possibilities in normal board operation. There are meaningful questions here that phpBB as a product possibly can’t address without presuming too much, it seems to me. Bulletin boards aren't wikis or blogs. People concerned about traffic generation through SEO would be better off (IMHO) to distill valuable bulletin board content into a wiki or blog than to exact SEO from a stand-alone bulletin board product.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by HB »

SamG wrote:I think you oversimplify the actual possibilities... There are meaningful questions here that phpBB as a product possibly can’t address without presuming too much, it seems to me. Bulletin boards aren't wikis or blogs. People concerned about traffic generation through SEO would be better off (IMHO) to distill valuable bulletin board content into a wiki or blog than to exact SEO from a stand-alone bulletin board product.
To be clear, I agree with you: Title injection, whether for SEO or "pretty" URLs, has no place in the phpBB base code for the reasons you and others have already cited (.htaccess required, moderating issues, etc.). Those who think it's worth the effort can modify the base code. End of story.

It would be wiser to expend effort on efficiency (e.g., by eliminating duplicates) and improving the quality of search results. That is, SEO principles aren't only about gaining traffic, it's about helping people find answers to their questions, since a good percentage of the questions posed on most forums have been asked and answered 100 times before. Blogs and wikis don't suffer this problem because they're not a conversational medium. How one improves the likelihood of finding answers to your questions via search engines is what started this thread. Unfortunately it devolved into a technical debate over implementation minutia rather than focusing on what matters to end users.

In closing, my SEO advice is simple: Do what's best for site visitors and the search engines will take care of themselves.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by SamG »

It's possible (maybe even likely) that my experience with stand-alone third party public bulletin boards, meaning user-to-user boards unattached to a site or product, as information resources is atypical. I just have never found them that valuable as a rule. If nothing else , the information retrieval process was time consuming, since the useful bit of information I was after might even be buried in an irrelevant thread. I've seen (and been involved with) exceptions, but they were exceptions.

Accurate or not, that perception impacts my view of bulletin boards as stand-alone information storage products. I think they are much better at serving active, involved members of a community than serving the random information needs of non-members. For communities than can offer non-members useful information, archiving it in wikis and blogs is an attractive option to a guy like me. :)
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by thecoalman »

HB wrote: I haven't collected any formal data on my members' URL preference since switching to topic-injected URLs. When I first installed the phpBB-seo MODs, I also coded a short URL version for fans of sites like tinyurl (e.g., http://www.example.com/t1236544.html).
I'm not big fan of those big URL's myself, short and sweet is good enough for me. One thing that would work nice is you injected the a shortened version of the forum into the the url:

http://www.example.com/phpbb2-discussion/t1236544.html

http://www.example.com/phpbb3-discussion/t1236544.html

This is actually from a real world example because its an issue I've come across myself. If you're searching phpbb.com in Google there is no way to tell which version the topic is about.

Understandably isn't going to work for out of the box phpbb3 but this can also be addressed if you were able to create custom Titles and Descriptions. For this site it would be very suitable to create titles for phpbb2 topics prefixed with phpbb2 and the same for phpbb3 topics.

Sites that required longer prefixes could instead be used as a prefix for the topic description.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by HB »

thecoalman wrote:I'm not big fan of those big URL's myself, short and sweet is good enough for me. One thing that would work nice is you injected the a shortened version of the forum into the the url:

http://www.example.com/phpbb2-discussion/t1236544.html

http://www.example.com/phpbb3-discussion/t1236544.html
That's been implemented in the phpBB-seo MOD for version 3, it's called "virtual folders."

For example, you can install phpBB3 in /forums/ and ignore the /forums/ part of the generated URLs. The index is then in http://www.example.com/forums.html and individual forums are as you describe. The virtual forum names are not required to have any relation to the actual forum name. For example, a forum called 'News and Suggestion Box" would be by default http://www.example.com/news-and-suggestion-box-f123/, but you can give it a nicer looking URL, http://www.example.com/news/t1236544.html.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by thecoalman »

HB wrote: That's been implemented in the phpBB-seo MOD for version 3, it's called "virtual folders."
I'm aware of the mods available. Don't use that one but utilize another one. ;)
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by bbrian017 »

See I know phpbb is pretty decent when it comes to SEO! I just bought a domain name called yawoop and if I Google it my forums are the first to come up in Google even before yawoop itself lmao. Reasoning for that is because I have a live link on my index named yawoop! I can search other specific terms and I'm always in the first 2 or 3 pages and I think this is great!
Last edited by bbrian017 on Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Out of the box phpBB 3 is awful for SEO

Post by ascensions »

SamG wrote:Blogs don't experience edits, splits, merges, title revisions, and other assorted moderated discussion issues like bulletin boards do. It's not clear to me how this kind of link treatment would be an SEO asset in a moderated environment.
There's the irony of PHPBB. It's not able to deal with it either. Say you move a thread to a new forum. You then have 2 completely different URLs archived with different forum variables.

It would be nice if there was a small script to check the request against the database to see if it's in the right forum, and redirect it if not, so when the bot comes back to the "old" url it gets shuffled to the "new" url.

Code: Select all

if ($_REQUEST['f'] != $forum_id) { 
header("Status: 301 Moved Permanently", true, 301);
header("Location: http://{$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']}/viewtopic.php?f={$forum_id}&t={$topic_id}");
exit();
}
I'm sure someone will come along eventually and correct my PHP... but you get the point.
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