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Moving a Big Board from vBulletin to XenForo?

#1
Hello there, I've got here since we updated our forums to vb4, I hate this last release, didn't know about all the 'changes' on vBulletin Development Team, but now it all makes sense... I've paid a lot for my move to vb4, and I'm not really happy about having to look for new perspectives. I might consider moving to XenForo, but there's a lot of things I need to get in XenForo to be able to do that.

Some of my forum stats, so you get my POV.
Threads: 220k Posts 1500k Members 1500k
Online users minimum: 1000, Online users average: 3000, Online users top: 6000 (Time:15Min)
Daily Analytics (Google) 150k visits, 1200k pageviews.

I also will need some custom stuff done, I dont need it to be free, I can pay, but I need to know if there's people willing to do the work or not...

And the most important question I've, SEO.... 70% of my traffic is organic, Meaning I can't risk to ****up with google, so, does XenForo really include all the stuff vBSEO does but without to pay for an addon? Or will I get my organic traffic ****ed up with the change.

I'm not sure if there's any forum that big using XenForo, I haven't been able to find it, So I would like to know if XenForo Staff can tell me if everything will be ok or not before making this swap.
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#2
I do envisage XenForo being able to handle such a board with good statistics, however, you might want to wait a bit until Sphinx search is fully implemented into XenForo. The underlying code is efficient and modern, meaning that less time is spent on resolving performance issues, but also, XenForo depends on trusted libraries such as jQuery and the Zend Framework (though little of it is used) which are well maintained, but trusted through the website industry. XenForo deploys the latest in agile architecture by employing the Model-View-Controller framework, opening a world of possibilities for addon-authors to execute code at native level. Henceforth, I am sure that there are developers out there willing to help you convert modifications and the such. I should warn that although the modifications community is continuously expanding, it is modest at best. Having said that, there is nothing peripatetic here. There is no agita; XenForo is simple, fast and efficient. It just works, and is a rarity within the vBulletin community, as I am sure you are aware, hence you are looking for alternatives.

XenForo's SEO is nothing short of unprecedented awesomeness. The usage of effective micro data and semantics gives search engines nothing to complain about. The generated code itself is free from rubbish. It is spectacular to see that XenForo comes with URL rewriting structures which are easy to read and understand by us humans, but also positive in that content is easily recognisable. The software really pushes tries the boundaries of what it can offer in terms of search engine optimisation.

Have you played with XenForo first? It might help answer a few questions of yours.
 

Brogan

XenForo moderator
Staff member
#3
There are some large XenForo forums listed here: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/big-bigger-biggest-xf-forums.15638/
That will enable you to compare them to yours.

An alternative solution other than Sphinx is going to be available for big boards.
There is a small announcement about it here: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/development-update-may-2011.16084/#post-211755

As far as custom work is concerned, there are developers currently producing free and paid add-ons.
The requests forum is here (you need to be a customer to post in it though): http://xenforo.com/community/forums/add-on-requests.35/

SEO out of the box is extremely good, but does not include all the functionality of vBSEO.
If you are importing though you will need the redirection scripts, which is all explained here: http://xenforo.com/help/importing/ and here: http://xenforo.com/help/import-redirection/
 

Weppa333

Active member
#5
I tested an import from VB on my own board (4M posts, but the backup was only 2M posts) without any problem. For that part, Xenforo is a MIRACLE really. Import is PERFECT even for very large boards.

BUT the built-in search speed makes that XF install absolutely useless (and this is running on a dedicated 8 CPU server with 12G) XF generates a search table which is a few GIGABYTES : this is ridiculous. The built in search is worse than VB's default search, which is already very slow.
My VB board uses Sphynx, of course. (In fact, members use sphinx, unreg users are sent to google :) )
I proposed my help testing the new "large board search solution" and they don't need me.
It'll probably magically run out of the box without any field testing.

SEO is nowhere close to VBSEO, especially as they refuse to integrate forum names in URLs. As I've stated in the past, I won't use XF live until this gets fixed/added. Doing it would be SEO suicide.
Imagine a car forum.
You start a thread "new headlights" in the /ford/mustang forum. VBSEO would create an URL like forum.com/ford/mustang/new-headlights.html which would be SERP/SEO friendly for queries like "mustang headlights" and more than that, PUT THE KEYWORDS IN BOLD IN THE URLS which is a great click magnet. XF URL would be a mere forum.com/threads/new-headlights.12345/#blah : good luck to get clicks with that, it's even worse if your board is non english ( "threads" should at least be replaced by a localized word, or just "t", imho.)

That's my opinion.
 

Slavik

XenForo moderator
Staff member
#7
Yeah, Im tending to agree with Weppa333, But I love the script, Hope it gets every cork fixed for big boards so I can import.

Sphinx, Better SEO, and we're good to go.
Sphinx already works wonders with xenforo. Did it on my test board and all seems fine.

As for the SEO bit, in all fairness I think the built in SEO is fine and I doubt it will effect much.
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#8
SEO is nowhere close to VBSEO, especially as they refuse to integrate forum names in URLs. As I've stated in the past, I won't use XF live until this gets fixed/added. Doing it would be SEO suicide.
Imagine a car forum.
You start a thread "new headlights" in the /ford/mustang forum. VBSEO would create an URL like forum.com/ford/mustang/new-headlights.html which would be SERP/SEO friendly for queries like "mustang headlights" and more than that, PUT THE KEYWORDS IN BOLD IN THE URLS which is a great click magnet. XF URL would be a mere forum.com/threads/new-headlights.12345/#blah : good luck to get clicks with that, it's even worse if your board is non english ( "threads" should at least be replaced by a localized word, or just "t", imho.)

That's my opinion.
http://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-on-keywords-in-the-url-16976

Matt Cutts says that they are not significant, but can help a little bit. Things such as micro data etc have a heavier weighting.Why? Keyword stuffing. In fact, Bing places a greater emphasis on them. From my experience, AdSense benefits from this URL structure.

You must also remember that VBSEO is made up of people who study and emphasise on SEO AND monetization for a living, so to say.
 

Weppa333

Active member
#9
Well this guy basically says "it helps". Anything that helps should be in there.
Also, let's take my example : if you do a "mustang headlights" query on google (I did it just for fun) ALL RESULTS IN THE FIRST PAGE have the keywords in the URL.
So either XenFORO's team suffers from google blindness, and all of their boards will fall into SERP oblivion, or they're gonna change their minds for 1.1 (I sincerely hope so).

Again, it's a simple matter for XF to add this feature and I WILL immediatly switch. Or maybe they wait for VBSEO to launch a XFSEO spinoff :)
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#10
www.americanmuscle.com/mustanglights.html

headlights is in the text of the page

It only has one keyword. With XenForo, this keyword would be in the topic name.

I have to note that this was a pretty poor example, since no forums actually came up for me.

You evidently also fail to note how Google shows results. Take this query. http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&xhr=t&q=aqa chemistry&cp=7&pq=mustang headlights&pf=p&sclient=psy&source=hp&aq=0&aqi=&aql=&oq=aqa che&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=1bce8a186c51fc51&biw=1440&bih=784

Notice how Google is placing emphasis on the main theme, rather that the shorter term. What Google does, is search for the common theme first, then looks at the second word to attempt to match it. I believe none of these results have both words in the links.

Searching "XenForo Kier Darby": http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=ps...gc.r_pw.&fp=1bce8a186c51fc51&biw=1440&bih=784

None of the URLs seem to match what I've searched for, but the page content does.
 

James

Well-known member
#11
<snip>
You start a thread "new headlights" in the /ford/mustang forum. VBSEO would create an URL like forum.com/ford/mustang/new-headlights.html which would be SERP/SEO friendly for queries like "mustang headlights" and more than that, PUT THE KEYWORDS IN BOLD IN THE URLS which is a great click magnet. XF URL would be a mere forum.com/threads/new-headlights.12345/#blah : good luck to get clicks with that, it's even worse if your board is non english ( "threads" should at least be replaced by a localized word, or just "t", imho.)

That's my opinion.
I'm not by any means an SEO expert, or amateur, or have any trusted knowledge at all in the field, but if you have:
-| Main Board
--| Ford
---| Mustang
----| New Headlights (thread)

Your breadcrumb on XenForo will look like: Home > Forum > Ford > Mustang
This is gonna have some weighed effect on your site, as SEs will be able to see your site's structure and deal with that. You don't need /ford/mustang/new-headlights for a SE to recognise that your new headlights thread is related to a Ford Mustang. Why not? Because your breadcrumb already does that for them.
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#12
I'm not by any means an SEO expert, or amateur, or have any trusted knowledge at all in the field, but if you have:
-| Main Board
--| Ford
---| Mustang
----| New Headlights (thread)

Your breadcrumb on XenForo will look like: Home > Forum > Ford > Mustang
This is gonna have some weighed effect on your site, as SEs will be able to see your site's structure and deal with that. You don't need /ford/mustang/new-headlights for a SE to recognise that your new headlights thread is related to a Ford Mustang. Why not? Because your breadcrumb already does that for them.
Here's something to read about:
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/breadcrumb-url-display-a-review/16957/
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#13
Also, to add something, where Google is talking of URL structure, there is no mention of what to include in the URL.

Check this, page 8. Let me quote it:

Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines.

However, Google doesn't like long URLs regardless of what is in it. The idea behind using key words and categories is to make it easier. From my overall impression of the document, Google prefers things be organised in a clear manner, however, it does not discriminate over how the content is organised, either by content or categories.

Page 9: Use words in URLs... but avoid using excessive keywords.

The problem with this document, is that it doesn't seem to deal with forums and content-rich websites which are dynamic in nature, though some principles apply. By using a more categorical approach, you risk having content not associated with the categories - something Google doesn't like.

In fact, Google places greater weighting on the keywords in the domain name, rather than internal pages. Internal pages are "prettified" for crawling ease AND reading ease. Remember, google is all about user experience, and it is the user whom you are trying to please, not Google.

For some reason, Google is really fond of showing me results from this website:
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-best-practices-for-url-structure/7216/

Look at the URL structure for it.
 

User

Well-known member
#14
Preface: I personally think a lot of SEO is smoke & mirrors + snake oil.

However:
You must also remember that VBSEO is made up of people who study and emphasise on SEO AND monetization for a living, so to say.
I do agree with the above and hence I think it is misguided to then turn around and argue that what they do doesn't matter or isn't really relevant.

Essentially what we have here is potential XF users saying "This is the functionality we are looking for because based on everything we know it helps us." and the XF crowd turning around and saying "Nah, you only think you need that but you don't really do."

That's something that really bugs me about XF, the dev team, and the community as a whole. Animated avatars, I would never use them or allow them on my board, but it's not up to the devs to decide whether or not forum admins need/want them. Same with avatar sizes. Same with the fkn stupid confirmation for Mark All Forums Read which doesn't exist in any other script. Again, it's not about the actual features, it's about the Steve Job's like attitude of "you are holding it wrong". Just because K&M, more K really, feel that forums should be run one way doesn't mean everyone agrees and at the end of the day customers will go where they find the features they want.

Little stuff like that keeps adding up and up to one big question whether XF is worth using in the first place or whether I should just install the "Like" functionality and alerts on another script and be done with it because beyond those two there really isn't anything that XF does better than another script from where I am looking.
 

MGSteve

Well-known member
#15
As the topic name isn't actually used by XF in any way when loading the page (I presume XF just looks for the id at the end of the URL), then in theory you could stuff whatever you wanted to in that bit of the URL it wouldn't make the blindest bit of different.

Ergo if you wanted to stuff the breadcrumb trail into the URL you could do quite easily. How easily depends on the code, I haven't looked into it, but the theory should hold water at least.
 

Weppa333

Active member
#16
potential XF users
Just to comment on this, I'm a XF customer, VBSEO customer, a very good VB customer (a dozen of licenses ), and a IPB customer. Basically I test everything. :) I couldn't agree more with what "USER" says. I also admit we're a bit offtopic. And for SEO, I publish websites for a living since more than 15 years, I was there before google was even online, so I think I know a bit about SEO. And Forum names in URLs should be there, or XF users will get laughable SERPs.
 

Shamil

Well-known member
#17
If you're relying that much on keywords being in URLs, then something is very wrong.

ultimately, I am not able to find any evidence that putting keywords in URLs in such that categories are shown, has a significant impact on SERPs.

Like you, I have multiple software licenses in major products.