SEO at XenForo

Techtech100

New member
Hi there

I am working with my colleague on a community project where students from university can engage with each other on various educational topics.

We do not have an online presence at the moment and are exploring SEO channels and how we can be recognised on Google and various search engines. One of the ways we thought SEO can be improved is by having a forum, how this works with XenForo is a little confusing as none of us come from a technology background, when we did contact XF team they said

XF is fully compliant with the latest industry standards as far as SEO is concerned and then mentioned something about how google interacts with our forum is dependant on their algorithms, but what I am trying to understand is how the SEO of XF works, on the home page of the XF site it says

"With XenForo there is no need to pay more for your search engine optimization needs. Human-readable URLs, semantic HTML with embedded microdata, and many more SEO features are present in the very core of the system."

Can someone please explain what this means into simpler terms, I am not sure what the technical language means above and how we can benefit from it from an SEO perspective?

Thank you
Harry
 

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
SEO isn't an exact science but its ultimate goal is simple: structure the content of a web page in such a way that makes it easier for search engines to navigate and understand.

The specific points you mention from our quote on the home page means the underlying HTML code we use is semantic - in other words it has clearly defined sections so that search engines know where significant parts of the content is, it knows which parts are quotes, it knows where the main body of the message is as opposed to the user details or the date etc. It knows where the date of each post is, even.

We also make use of microdata which is additional information in the HTML that we don't actually see, but it is there solely for the search engine to find and use to make sense of the page.

As a specific example, this page has the following microdata embedded:
JSON:
        {
            "@context": "https://schema.org",
            "@type": "DiscussionForumPosting",
            "@id": "https:\/\/xenforo.com\/community\/threads\/seo-at-xenforo.169222\/",
            "headline": "SEO at XenForo",
            "articleBody": "Hi there\n\nI am working with my colleague on a community project where students from university can engage with each other on various educational topics. \n\nWe do not have an online presence at the moment and are exploring SEO channels and how we can be recognised on Google and various search engines. One of the ways we thought SEO can be improved is by having a forum, how this works with XenForo is a little confusing as none of us come from a technology background, when we did contact XF team they said \n\nXF is fully compliant with the latest industry standards as far as SEO is concerned and then mentioned something about how google interacts with our forum is dependant on their algorithms, but what I am trying to understand is how the SEO of XF works, on the home page of the XF site it says \n\n\"With XenForo there is no need to pay more for your search engine optimization needs. Human-readable URLs, semantic HTML with embedded microdata, and many more SEO features are present in the very core of the system.\" \n\nCan someone please explain what this means into simpler terms, I am not sure what the technical language means above and how we can benefit from it from an SEO perspective? \n\nThank you\nHarry",
            "articleSection": "XenForo pre-sales questions",
            "author": {
                "@type": "Person",
                "name": "Techtech100"
            },
            "datePublished": "2019-08-27",
            "dateModified": "2019-08-27",
            "image": "https:\/\/xenforo.com\/community\/styles\/default\/xenforo\/xenforo-logo-og.png",
            "interactionStatistic": {
                "@type": "InteractionCounter",
                "interactionType": "https://schema.org/ReplyAction",
                "userInteractionCount": 0
            }
        }
This tells search engine that this page represents a discussion forum posting, it makes the main body of the page easily accessible, it mentions who authored the content, how many times it has been replied to etc.

We use microdata to help with navigation too. For example, search engines know where the page numbers are, it knows what the URL of the next page is, it knows where this page sits in the overall navigation structure of the site (we see it as a breadcrumb at the bottom and top of the page, i.e. Home > Forums > Public forums > XenForo pre-sales questions >)

All of this, and more besides, just help search engines find and understand your site more easily. But search engines have their own algorithms and sometimes certain content doesn't get indexed because Google ascertains it isn't too interesting. All we can do is make sure the content can be found and understood and that's essentially what SEO is.

There are other features too, such as the XML sitemap which is essentially a list of all of the relevant URLs on your site. This helps Google recognise your content more easily, and when it has been updated.

Long story short: don't worry too much about SEO. We do about as much as we can to help the search engines, but SEO can only impact so much. The key focus should be on ensuring your site has the right content, be that through keeping discussions relevant and interesting and current or adding additional content to your site, such as through posting news articles etc.
 

Techtech100

New member
This is very handy thanks for simplifying it for me, I guess the key take away for us would be is to focus on content and then our ranking will grow from there based on the tools you provide via the forum thank you Chris
 
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