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URL friendly vs. URL-unfriendly :-)

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#1
I'm not sure this is in the right forum, forgive me if it's misplaced.

I have an SEO/Alexa/Google question that I can't seem to wrap my head around and I'm trying to explain this to a friend. I've had my Xenforo blorum now for 3.5 weeks and it went from non-existent on Alexa to a U.S. ranking of a bit over 420,000.

My friend's site, which has been around for about 2 years, has a site that uses funky urls. Even though you were to go to his site at websitename.com (example), it would revert to this:

https://my.websitename.com/Applications/websitename.nsf/PublicHome.xsp

His worldwide Alexa ranking is around 9.7 million and there's no data for the U.S.

For the past 3 weeks I've applied the identical marketing strategy to his site that I am using on my site and I can't figure out why his site ranks so terribly. Can someone explain this to me? Does this have anything to do with the 'funky' url of his site, which is built on a database or are these not related at all?
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#3
Oh, you're so funny, Floris.

Blog + Forum = Blorum

My site was constructively criticized for being more like a blog when I was trying to create a forum. Instead of adjusting we just decided to create something new. :)
 
#7
I'm not sure, but people goto websites if there is good contents there - not the way the URLs are layout wise. Google and other search engines use robots to crawl websites for content good or bad and use rank to show how good/reliable the contents is.
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#8
The URL structure has *very* little to do with it. I just pulled our Google Analytics report for our forum, and in the last 30 days, we've received 2,459,457 unique visitors from search engines (which works out to about 1 per second 24/7).

I'm only mentioning that because we use the plainest URLs possible (no keywords or titles in the URLs).

There isn't really a shortcut to earning Google's trust... but I can say with some confidence that Google generally trusts digitalpoint.com. Why that may be could be a topic of debate, but I suspect it has to do with a few things...
  • We have been around a long time (forum started in 2004, but site itself started in 1996)
  • We have never done anything that violates Google's quality guidelines (we have never bought or sold links for example, we have never used digitalpoint.com for any sort of spam landing pages, etc.)
  • We have gotten an ABSURD amount of links over the years (never asking for them). Google Webmaster Tools shows 458,614,550 links to the forums.digitalpoint.com sub-domain... even taking out the ones originating from within digitalpoint.com, it's still a pretty high number of links (2,835,337). Other sub-domains are similar... tools.digitalpoint.com for example shows 9,106,813 links after you take out the links originating from digitalpoint.com.
So you have a very old domain that has never had any sort of history of spam or shadiness, combined with millions of 100% unsolicited links from other sites, and Google tends to trust your site more... like someone can post a new thread and that topic will show at the top of Google search results within minutes.

My best advise is not to worry about the SEO too much... XenForo's default SEO is really good. Just focus on creating a quality site that people want to tell their friends about simply because it's a good site. It's not an overnight process, but that's the best long term strategy... it gets easier and easier as Google starts trusting your site more and more.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#9
I love stats like these, they are hugely helpful for a brain like mine. ;) Thank you for sharing, super valuable!

And congratulations by the way, these are some amazing number! :notworthy:

I have 2 links to my site, lol! But there's always hope, huh!? :p
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#10
Oh, I forgot to mention... Alexa is more or less useless unless it's a sub-1,000 site. And even then, it's only relevant to compare the relative numbers between two similar sites with the same audience.

If you want to really compare, just look at your Google Analytics vs. theirs.
 

mrGTB

Well-known member
#11
The URL structure has *very* little to do with it. I just pulled our Google Analytics report for our forum, and in the last 30 days, we've received 2,459,457 unique visitors from search engines (which works out to about 1 per second 24/7).

I'm only mentioning that because we use the plainest URLs possible (no keywords or titles in the URLs).

There isn't really a shortcut to earning Google's trust... but I can say with some confidence that Google generally trusts digitalpoint.com. Why that may be could be a topic of debate, but I suspect it has to do with a few things...
  • We have been around a long time (forum started in 2004, but site itself started in 1996)
  • We have never done anything that violates Google's quality guidelines (we have never bought or sold links for example, we have never used digitalpoint.com for any sort of spam landing pages, etc.)
  • We have gotten an ABSURD amount of links over the years (never asking for them). Google Webmaster Tools shows 458,614,550 links to the forums.digitalpoint.com sub-domain... even taking out the ones originating from within digitalpoint.com, it's still a pretty high number of links (2,835,337). Other sub-domains are similar... tools.digitalpoint.com for example shows 9,106,813 links after you take out the links originating from digitalpoint.com.
So you have a very old domain that has never had any sort of history of spam or shadiness, combined with millions of 100% unsolicited links from other sites, and Google tends to trust your site more... like someone can post a new thread and that topic will show at the top of Google search results within minutes.

My best advise is not to worry about the SEO too much... XenForo's default SEO is really good. Just focus on creating a quality site that people want to tell their friends about simply because it's a good site. It's not an overnight process, but that's the best long term strategy... it gets easier and easier as Google starts trusting your site more and more.
Sound advice indeed. All the SEO hype is there mainly for others to sell you something you don't need. ;)

Funny enough, I'm thinking right now about using the URL structure in XenForo that does not include keywords. The same way the MyBB forum worked. Reason being, if you rename a thread you might have sent into Facebook or Twitter e.t.c. It breaks the link-back.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#12
Thanks, DigitalPoint, and everyone else!

I can't help but wish there was a 'booklet' of some sort that shows the 50 top boards in different categories, and how they started, what they did exactly to get over the 'hump', how long it took for income to start trickling or pouring in, if they have employees today, how many and for what functions, how their income is structured (ads/membership/ebooks/affiliates, etc.), what they would do differently 'had they known', etc.

I think it would be the ultimate guide to starting your own forum community. :D
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#13
Sound advice indeed. All the SEO hype is there mainly for others to sell you something you don't need. ;)

Funny enough, I'm thinking right now about using the URL structure in XenForo that does not include keywords. The same way the MyBB forum worked. Reason being, if you rename a thread you might have sent into Facebook or Twitter e.t.c. It breaks the link-back.
I actually thought about that myself... then decided my setup just uses "unfriendly URLs" but only for the social buttons... that way they don't break on a URL change.
 

Carlos

Well-known member
#14
I've always found Alexa to be useless. I trust the Google ranking better than that.

I also have found that the un-friendly URL's are not as strong as the friendly URL's. You'd have to do some heavy advertising.

I know this, because my blog had ugly URL's for a year, and not enough traffic to fuel growth. I switched my blog to friendly URL's few weeks ago since my MW3Blog pulled in thousands of views based on the url postensity.
 

Forsaken

Well-known member
#16

Onimua

Well-known member
#18
Why does everyone keep saying Unfriendly URL's. They are still friendly URL's, but without thread keywords included. Unfriendly is like vBulletin 3 used to be without vBSEO used.

Has anyone ever taken notice how IMDb uses similar URL structure for links leading to movies.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087182/
You just explained why people call then friendly/unfriendly. :p

They're friendly to the user, in that a thread title in the link is far more explanatory about the content than a series of numbers.