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XF 1.2 Possible SEO Issues

Discussion in 'XenForo Questions and Support' started by GreyWing, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. GreyWing

    GreyWing Member

    Hi Guys,

    We switched to Xenforo from vb3 or 4, think it was 3. Anyway, we moved the board across with the migration tool and all seemed fine.

    Our url is www.royalmarines.co.uk and we thought we'd do quite well for the search term "Royal Marines" as it is am exact match term. But as the site got busier or maybe more threads got indexed we've slipped down Google from 3rd to 13th-14th in the UK Google.

    We think we've got issues somewhere and maybe configured something incorrectly. Just wondering if anyone had any tips or hints for us. It's quite a big site and our guys love xenforo, so we won't be going back to vb even if we can't fix it. But would be grate if there was a quick fix.

  2. Jake Bunce

    Jake Bunce XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    XenForo already has SEO features built-in that don't require any extra configuration on your part. Examples:


    This is already part of the default style.

    Did you setup redirects for threads after you migrated to XF? Redirects are important to help maintain your Google links.


    Otherwise the best thing you can do is to try to get your links published on other relevant sites. That kind of exposure is what moves your link up the list.
  3. GreyWing

    GreyWing Member

    Hi Jake

    Yes we activated the SEO features and all look good.

    We had a load of links to other pages from our old vb site. So after a few months of them linking to pages no longer valid, I went through the database and deleted all the internal links. No exaggeration, 5 minutes later I found that tool..... gutted. I'm not sure if it would have had a massive effect for us as we moved domains when we went with Xenforo and we no longer had control of the old domain name.

    Might just be time to let Google settle, we had 3000 internal broken links and we only got rid of them last week. 40,000 pages for Google to update so maybe just wait and let it settle.

    One thing I wasn't sure of, do you think using the cache system would benefit us with seo?

    Cheers for your help
  4. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    So is the domain - royalmarines.co.uk - new to the site? That's possibly more of a potential issue than the software move to XF.

    You're going to get an almost complete reindex when you move software platforms, but providing Google can see most of the content it could before the change, your listings should be back within a few months and so should the associated traffic.

    However, if you had a previous domain that had a Google ranking value and you moved to a new one then this can have a negative impact as you have to rebuild authority on that brand new (to Google) unranked domain. I've checked your current domain and it has no ranking at all. Presumably that will build over time as Google finds more and more on-topic content for your new domain, but I can't think of anything specific within XF that you can change to influence your page rank.

    Your robots.txt looks okay - nothing excluded there that shouldn't be and you've got 47,200 results when I Google:- site:www.royalmarines.co.uk - so it looks like most of your threads have been indexed okay.

    Not really sure what to advise other than keep building the on-topic content. (y)

    Shaun :D
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  5. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    You made it sound like the software has been misbehaving with regards to SEO, hence some of us would be confused. I was until I read this thread.
    Okay. Let's clarify a few things here before we move on. A domain name is this: http://www.royalmarines.co.uk

    A new domain name would look like this: royalmarines.NET

    A new link or new URL is this: royalmarines.co.uk/threads/announcement.8345/

    What you're saying is that you deleted "internal links" with that information, I assume this is a "loss" of URL's [and google knows this]. And as with any software change or migrations, URL structure changes.
    If you had just said "we deleted all the internal links" and only lost the URL pages - that's down to you. But actually, this is a good thing. It sounds like you've been trying to throw away some trash. I've been doing this a lot lately, too. In fact, I've been meticulous about it. I don't want spammers on my site. I don't want garbage links on my site.

    So, based on reading and understanding what you're asking. My suggestion is your validation: Yes. Let google or any other search engine "settle" in. But if I were you, and I changed domains - I would go back to the registrar's control panel and apply a 301 redirect from your old site, to your current new site (where xenforo resides). Or like I think your problem is: Apply htaccess redirection from old site to new site. Apply old links to new links (Old URL's to New URL's for layman terms).
    The only thing caching does is make it easy output your site. Caching for the most part is for sites with like, 1 million links and 5 million spiders hitting your site at once.

    Basically, what I'm saying is: Caching = Compressing.

    By the way, nice site you've got there! :)
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  6. GreyWing

    GreyWing Member

    Cheers Shaun and Carlos, much as I expected in that time to reindex everything. Unfortunately we lost access to the old domain name. It was owned by the Royal Marines directly, we used to work closely with them on this and they kept getting hacked with Vbulletin so they decided to pull the plug. I'd like to blame vb but the site owners didn't update the software until it got hacked, so they were kind of asking for it. So they stopped the site, we took it back and moved it to our own domain name but they wouldn't 301 anything for us.

    The old url was something like prmc.royalnavy.mod.uk so it was quite a bit change to the url. The internal url changes were sending visitors and bots from our live site to broken pages on the old site prmc.royalnavy.mod.uk/threads/**********. So only just got rid of them, I doubt Google has updated all those pages yet, now that the links have been deleted.

    I don't really mind waiting for Google to bounce us up the ranking again.. One of the reasons I thought we were doing something wrong was that we started pretty high 2nd-3rd in Google and the more pages got indexed the more we fell. I just was just wondering if we were doing something wrong with an easy fix. Thanks to you guys I can rule that out and just wait for it to bounce back. So I'm not second guessing myself and trying to fix things that aren't broken, which usually ends up with me breaking them :ROFLMAO:

    Cheers mate, the guys are loving the new software (Well say new, we've been using it for 6 months). Luckily just as we were looking for new software, the guys had just settled that court case thing and we knew this was the way foward.

    Again, many thanks guys you have put my mind at rest and that I don't need to do anything.
  7. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    Stupid, stupid, and stupid. Stupid move. Yeah, they were asking for it.
    Okay, then I was right. You were throwing out trash. Google can update them when they can. This is not you anymore. Because if you had control of that site/google analytics/webmaster tools you could remove that link off of google manually.
    Which site? Your new xenforo site, or the old one?
    Well, it's not really your fault that these - I don't know, clueless folks - didn't allow you to upgrade the forum. *facepalm*
    Ya welcome! :)
  8. GreyWing

    GreyWing Member

    The xenforo one, started around 9th and worked it's way up to 2nd or 3rd in the first month or so then started to drop back.

    The whole story is a farce mate. Yep they decided to discontinue the old forum. Originally it was one I started, the official Royal Marines came in and asked to take over, I said yes. So they took over the vb forum and embedded it in their official site. So we were thinking that it was in their official Ministry of Defence site.

    Unfortunately it wasn't on official servers, the forum was on cheap reseller hosting, basically one of those cheap and nasty servers full of all you can eat data for $20 a month (y), that's going to make sense :ROFLMAO:. Only the forum was hosted on these cheap servers, the official main site was on secure servers. So then it got hacked and the media being the media picked it up and reported that Romanians had hacked the Royal Navy. When in fact it was nothing like that, they hacked a outdated forum on a cheap server.

    But not wanting the bad publicity again, the Royal Navy decided they didn't want anything to do with it. Nope I tell a lie, they decided to move to a new forum using IP Invision thing. They didn't move 5 years of data, so everything lost, it's 100% behind logins so no search engine can tell anyone it is there and you have to login every 15 minutes. They said they didn't want it hacked so needed to keep it secure. Obviously its not going to be hacked because nobody knows it is there, nobody knows it is there is a bad thing for a forum but this fact was lost on them. Although again they are running 2009 software, maybe they are taunting these hackers or something :LOL: That forum died after a week or two, nobody used it.

    So we got some backups and restarted it with Xenforo. Lesson learnt, don't let the Government near anything :cry:
    CyclingTribe likes this.
  9. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    It's possible that it relates to 1.2's URL structure changes.

    My site got affected, too. I recently upgraded to 1.2 and I revamped it at the same time. My keyworded "cod forums" dropped down to #7, when in the first place googlers had no problem finding our site. *groans* :(
    Good decision. Those guys are clueless. All it needed was a secure, and updated vBulletin. The media gave them backlash because they obviously didn't care. Or don't care. Whatever.
  10. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    The URL structure did not change in 1.2.
  11. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    Maybe not directly, but some areas were removed, and/or moved.
  12. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Which areas?
  13. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    I'm going to use one example, the memberlist removed the list of members in exchange for "notable" members. I'm not saying that it's a bad move.. so don't get me wrong.

    What I'm saying is... these structure changes might have affected the way xenForo is being crawled.

    This is not exclusive to just structure changes, you guys changed wordings of some phrases in stock xenForo. Like:

    "What's New" is now "New Posts" and vice versa.

    Again: I reiterate that I'm not saying these are bad changes. It's just that in the short term - sites might be seeing a drop of traffic/crawls. This is true for me. I upgraded and I saw my traffic drop.

    But this will rebound once google understands the new structures/wordings.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  14. Jeremy

    Jeremy Well-Known Member

    Well, the structure hasn't changed. The structure that crawlers find have been the same since XenForo was released.
  15. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. URL structure might have stayed the same, but the way the actual pages (I.E. What's new > New posts) behaves changed. It's not just one thing. It's variety of things.

    Like this: find-new/posts is the same, and behaves the same, but the phrase itself changed. Google might have the url, but still needs to understand the new phrase that's being used.

    Memberlist is a major change because like I said, it foregoes the memberlist in favor for "notable" members - this will cause google to try and understand the listing style.

    These are bots we're talking about here.

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