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XF 1.1 Questionable SEO decision in threads?

Discussion in 'XenForo Questions and Support' started by Luxus, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    Everyone should know that the right use of heading tags is important for good SEO. Heading tags are html tags that begin with a h and end with a number (1 - 6). The lower the number of a heading tag, the more important the content between that heading tag is treated by google (although people are still debating today whether or not the h1 tag has been downgraded due to massive abuse, so many people say today that h2 tags are the ones that have the most impact on SEO).

    I have noticed that in threads the authors name and rank are in h3 tags while the content is in normal div tags.
    <h3 class="userText">
    One does have to wonder why because I thought the most important part should be the actual content and not irrelevant user infos. If I were a spider bot and crawl such a thread I would think "hm...the user info seems to be more important than the content. Lets index it higher than the silly content!"

    There is obviously something not right with this. But I thought before I remove those h3 tags better open a thread in the forums and ask what the others think about it. Maybe there is something that I didn't grasp right.
  2. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    The content of a thread isn't a heading, therefore isn't appropriate for a heading tag.
  3. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    The author name is already clearly marked as itemprop="name", so Google knows exactly what it is. IMO, changing the content body to a heading tag is not a good idea. Heading tags are meant for headings, not content. The topic title is a heading, which is the proper way of doing it.

    EDIT: Partially ninja'd by Yorick, for the first time!
  4. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    Yes but still that doesn't change the fact that the user info is marked to be more important than the content, which is ridiculous.


    Sorry if I made the impression that I would put the content in heading tags. I was thinking about just replacing those h3 tags with div tags to reduce the SEO impact on the user info.
  5. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    It really isn't marked as more important as the content.

    H3 tags really don't mean much in the grand scheme of SEO.
    MagnusB likes this.
  6. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    It isn't more important than the content, the entire block is clearly marked as user info for Google to see:
    <div class="messageUserInfo" itemscope="itemscope" itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Person">   
    <div class="messageUserBlock">
            <div class="avatarHolder">
                <span class="helper"></span>
                <a href="members/luxus.18003/" class="avatar Av18003m" data-avatarhtml="true"><span class="img m" style="background-image: url('data/avatars/m/18/18003.jpg?1338413025')"></span></a>
                <!-- slot: message_user_info_avatar -->
            <h3 class="userText">
                <a href="members/luxus.18003/" class="username" itemprop="name">Luxus</a>
                <em class="userTitle" itemprop="title">Active Member</em>
                <!-- slot: message_user_info_text -->
        <span class="arrow"><span></span></span>
    All those itemprops shows Google what it is dealing with, the content (post) are within <article> tags, again showing Google this is where the content is at. If you want to change the h3 tags to something else, go ahead, but I doubt it will affect your SEO that much, but please correct me if I am wrong.
    Yorick likes this.
  7. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    Granted this is the first time I see something like itemprop="name" in html outputs. What exactly does this do?

    Edit: Ninja'd
  8. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    We're all ninja'ing other :D
  9. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    Damn, this thread is just full of ninjas, we should have a convention......

    Anyway, the itemprops tell Google exactly what it is dealing with, and what the different blocks etc on the site is. If you actually take a look at the source of any Xenforo page, you will see allot of the content html is much "higher" up than the unimportant / not visual html.

    Take a look at Kiers posts in the Have you seen forums:

    This helps Google sort out the content much better than any heading tags will.
  10. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    Well, if the itemprops tell google what it is dealing with, why use a h3 tag? There must be a reason why Kier/Mike chose h3 tags and not div or p tags.

    I have learned a bit SEO when working with Joomla and there were examples that explained the right use of those heading tags.

    h1 - the name of the page
    h2 - article title/thread title
    h3 - related content (similar article titles etc, the part of a website usually located at the bottom).

    h4, h5, h6 tags should be avoided.
  11. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    As you pointed out, there is little known exactly about how much the heading tags affect SEO, and if one is better than the other. It might just be because that is the important part of that itemscope, namely the in the userinfo part you want to highlight the author name, the avatar etc are unimportant.

    In my opinion, in html5, with microdata etc, headings will be less important, namely because the content is better defined through <article> tags etc.
  12. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    I was not aware that <article> is a valid html5 tag :oops:

    Could it be possible that the h3 tag was chosen deliberately for the user name and rank to give them more importance to Google because of the social aspect of XenForo?
  13. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    It might be, however the important part is the fact that Google is recognizing the author:
    See how accurately Google can determine the authors and number of posts? That is because of the semantic html.
    Luxus and Yorick like this.
  14. Luxus

    Luxus Well-Known Member

    That's good to know. I think I can trust Kier's and Mike's years long experience and will keep the h3 tags for the time being. Thank you very much for discussing this with me :)
  15. MagnusB

    MagnusB Well-Known Member

    No problem, don't mind discussing it, as I might be wrong.

    BTW it was because of small details like this I bought XF to begin with, back with phpBB I was doing everything manually, so after working a while with XF I have become somewhat complacent with SEO, though I am not sure if that is a good thing :D

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