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SEO tips for a private forum??

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by jme420, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. jme420

    jme420 New Member

    I run a forum, and on this forum I offer paid subscriptions which brings me some handy revenues!

    Right now the forum is locked so that nobody can see any content without registering and I would ideally like to keep it this way.

    I feel however that this is stopping google from being able to properly crawl my site. My page is nowhere to be seen in google!

    Is there anything I can do or do I just need to make one of my boards available to unregistered guests

    Thanks for reading
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Crawlers are given the same permissions as guests, and I believe it is against Google's TOS to show them content that isn't visible to guests.
  3. Mr Lucky

    Mr Lucky Well-Known Member

    Unless Google registers and pays a subscription (!) it obviously can't crawl those pages.

    It may know they exist if the forum names are visible to unregistered even though the actual content or there are external links to them

    Same applies to threads

    I have my private forums set so anyone can see the forum and the thread list within that forum, but not the posts within those threads.

    So Google can at least index the threads as it has the URLs, however it will give every little weight as irony sees page with a title and no content. For SEO that is more or less useless. However that's probably the best you can do with private forums, it's a bit of a double edged sword.

    Even if you got loads of people linking from other sites to those private threads to get slightly better search position, it will annoy a lot of people if they do find them in a search.

    You can't have it both ways.

    A compromise is to make the forums public but as read only - this way Google can index the links and the content and so give much better results
  4. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo Well-Known Member

    Yes it is. Its called cloaking to show things just to search engines that normal users don't see. It may get you banned from the Google index if caught

    For the purpose of forum owners, just consider Search engine bots as human guests as far as what content it sees.
  5. jme420

    jme420 New Member

    Please don't get me wrong, i dont want to do anything that is not considered "proper".

    I just want people to be able to find my product page in my forum, even though the rest of the site is set to private, that way people still know what my forum offers without having to register.

    Is that possibru?

    Thanks for all the responses!
  6. BobbyWibowo

    BobbyWibowo Well-Known Member

    Well, showing contents that are not available to guests to crawlers are definitely not proper.
    What about making separated thread or page for guests to showcase your product page? But simply listing them. People will still need to subscribe (or however you make it) to access them.
  7. jme420

    jme420 New Member

    Alright, but I mean, we had it set like that previously (our product listing thread was visible to unregistered users), and even still, we seemed to get almost 0 traffic from google.

    I know our keywords are quite competitive and there are other "bigger fish" in our pond, but we don't even scratch the surface.

    Any help would be appreciated. I have read about paid back-links, are those a waste of money? and/or considered against googles tos
  8. Mr Lucky

    Mr Lucky Well-Known Member

    The only real way to get high results in the searches is

    1) to have great content (which you may have, but if it's private then is no use for SEO) just a list may help a bit but it much

    2) have lots of links from good quality sites.

    Paid links are said to not be as useful as just natural organic links.

    As I said, having a private forum is a double edged sword. You can choose between a public forum that stand a chance of getting listed well and getting good traffic, or a private forum that has fewer visitors, but is more exclusive.
  9. Optic

    Optic Well-Known Member

    Just some ideas and will depend on what niche your community is.

    You could make a custom bbCode to wrap certain content in your posts to be "protected" from Guests to compel them to subscribe whilst still giving Google something to index.,
    BbCodes & Buttons Manager

    Or maybe allow only the first post in each thread to be viewable for Guests:
    First Post Only

    But both these approaches could dig into your paid subscriptions depending on how much you "reveal" to guests/Google so to speak..
  10. Mr Lucky

    Mr Lucky Well-Known Member

    I think this is quite a good idea.

    Alternatively, and very simple, is to make the text content viewable for guests, but not attachments.

    So people can see the threads (but maybe still with one or two completely private areas, however the only way to participate in discution and view/download attachments is to join and pay. That way there is still added value for paying subscribers.

    I think you are going to need to compromise somewhere, unless you can persuade google to take out a subscription so it (he/she) can crawl your site.

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