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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.

Tags
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.


Ratings
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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Looking good, Matt.

I would have thought it more logical the have the tags just before the keyword though:

myforum.com/forums/tags/apple
[quote name='Matt' timestamp='1330435534']
Edited article to add in rating schema addition.


Very impressed!!

Edit: Will this work on the blogs too, Matt? spider-readable, and shortened? Or is that unrelated, would be great if it did, as the SERPS would see it as two different URL tags:

myforum.com/forums/tags/apple
myforum.com/blogs/tags/apple

That, together with the actual page, and even the additional of a blog, and the two tags (or even 10 with variations of the tags, like apple-juice, apple-reviews, etc. etc), would potentially place 4/5/6 entries on the SERPS for the same thread!

Not a clincher, but it would make the blogs extremely SEO orientated, like WP, do, as tags can rank as high, if not higher than actual pages/threads.

Then a Tag cloud/box separated, one for forums, and one for blogs, and this would be one serious piece of kit, SEO-Wise.

Through my testing on the software SEO-wise, the search engines like it, and index it quick, with a great structure, so the above such additions, if possible, would really make this software a serious tool for SEO marketing.

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Steven,

Due to the way the software is structured, we can't move "tags" close to the domain.

On this forum here, because we are not using a directory, it'll be community.invisionpower.com/tags/forums/apple

Blog will need a minor update, I believe, to make use of the change. I'll check on that.

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[quote name='Richey' timestamp='1330962058']
Is there already a release date for 3.3?
I successfully switched from XenForo to IPB and can't await the 3.3 release :smile:


¿You switched from XenForo to IPB? ¿What convinced you from IPB over XenForo?

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Are there any "necessary file only" upgrades? I've been customizing the user profiles and logos and I;d hate to have to re-do all of that. I checked in the 3.3 software and it's uploading all new logo files, favicon's, etc.

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