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IP.Board 3.3 Dev Update: New SEO Tweaks Roundup

We released IP.Board 3.3.0 as beta yesterday to our clients and I wanted to just round-up some of the very latest SEO changes we've made this week.

We've invested a lot of effort into making sensible non-invasive changes to IP.Board to encourage search engines to spider pages we want them to spider and to remove extraneous links, potential crawler errors and non-desirable keywords. We routinely check progress on this forum in Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools to identify any areas that need further work. I spotted a few things which I've fixed which include the following.

We added tags back in 3.2 and we've continued to make improvements including adding 'other items tagged' which is now an option when viewing a topic. However, guest and search engine access to tags was largely blocked and the URL to fetch a list of matching items wasn't very friendly.

This has now been changed. The old format URL was 'index.php?app=core&module=search&do=search&search_app=forums&search_tag=tagName'. It's now a much snappier '/tags/forums/tagName/'.

Search engine bots now have access to the tag results page within the search engine so they can spider the results of specific tags. This should increase good keyword density.

Guests and 'unread' links
The default setting in 3.3.0 is to disallow topic tracking for guests. This means this setting applies to search engines too. However, the 'last topic' link when viewing a list of forums still retained the '/unread/' parameter. This is fine as it sends a soft redirect header which Google correctly picks up. That said, it is an unnecessary hoop for Google to jump through and as topic marking is disabled, there is no benefit to this parameter.
This has now been removed in 3.3.0.

Title tags
We've also gone through and removed some more unnecessary title attributes from links such as the 'Go to latest unread' which preceded almost every 'last topic' link when viewing a forum, search results and sub-forums. This further reduces undesirable keywords.

Soft 404s
On reviewing the crawler errors listed within Google Webmaster Tools, I noticed a lot of largely irrelevant pages were listed as being 'soft 404s'. Google declares a page a soft 404 if it sends a standard OK header (200) but it seems to contain no valuable data such as a generic 'No data to show' message within a table. This occurred with regularity with the 'Who Posted' feature as well as the 'Display Name History' button on user's profiles. I've now removed both links to Guests as arguably they serve little purpose to a non-member.

I've added schema data to the IP.Board topic rating system so Google will detect and show the relevant rating with the search result.

These are all fairly little changes but they'll further improve your forum's SEO which can only be a good thing! We're looking forward to seeing these new changes and features in action on your forums.



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[quote name='Teddy Rogers' timestamp='1330003489']Do people worry way too much about search engine results than the content and reputation?

Yes! The most important ingredient for SEO is rich, unique content. Humans, in general, are lazy and typically seek the path of least resistance. While these SEO changes are good, they won't help much for PR if a site has little or no unique content. A niche...is what we all should be striving to find.

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Good content and good SEO are not mutually exclusive, they are both equally important. My site always had good content on it. When I installed a SEO optimization plug-in for a competing forum software about 4 years ago, my traffic quadrupled, as did my Google Adsense earnings. The content was there, but the clearly having the site better optimized for SEO was also EXTREMELY important. The good SEO wouldn't have helped if the content was there and vice-versa.

I applaud and give Invision Power a standing ovation for their efforts to make SEO on their software as good as possible!

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[quote name='ehMac.ca' timestamp='1330037504']Good content...

Define "good." There's a big difference between "good" and "unique." Don't get me wrong, SEO is a "good" thing to have but it's very overrated. If there's diverse, dynamic unique content on a site, major search engines are going to comb through them, regardless of having SEO incorporated. I mean, link structure ALONE makes more of a difference than anything else.

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consider this
Site A publishes a very well written article that is unique in every aspect.
site B scrapes that article from site A

Site A doesn't give a flying fu** about SEO. Therefore, Google visits site B more regularly and indexes the article before site A has any chance.

add to that, because site A doesn't tell Google when the article was published nor give any relevant information about any thing SEO, Google can't tell who scraped who? it will simply assume that the article on site B is the original.

this only goes to show how important SEO is :)

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Have you done anything about the visitors and keywords tables in IP SEO? The associated database tables run over thousands of pages and make the database bloated. Seems there's no way to disable recording this information.

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Matt, with the tag issue and modification, can you please make sure, that the tag name also gets inserted as the title of the tags, as even though the existing tags are pretty useless anyway (no offence), they also have no tag content as the title.

For example if the tag is named:

/tags/dancing-frog, then the first words of the title is: Dancing Frog

It makes a real difference to SEO to have the actual tag name as the first words as a title of the tag.

I know a few of you made comments on that thread I started, but believe me when I say, that I do know SEO, and that addition would be great.

Thank You

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Because the tag system shows tags by app, we do need the app name in there, so the format is /tag/forums/dancing-frog

We could do /tag/dancing-frog/forums but it seems less readable to me.

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