vB 3.8 > xF 2.2 migration : 8 months later

Richieboy67

Active member
Pardon me if this has been mentioned. I have not read this entire thread.

Are you sure your urls have all been redirected properly? Check to make sure incoming links are not pointed to urls that are no longer there. This will damage you.
 

Richieboy67

Active member
Been running my forum on vB since 2005 (was on Snitz before that) - but like a lot of people never progressed further than vB 3.8. However after getting stuck in quarantine last November and with nothing else to do, I figured I should use the time productively to upgrade! :D

So upgrade I did - using the standard xF convertor and a load of custom scripts I was able to import all the data over with everything nicely 301'd:
  • threads (450k)
  • posts (4.5m)
  • attachments (200GB)
  • reactions from Dragonbyte Thanks/Like
  • photopost (150GB)
  • photopost classifieds
  • dragonbyte downloads
  • gars
  • vbGarage
To get it done as fast as possible, after doing 2 test imports on my laptop - I then spun up a super powerful compute VPS at OVH with 24 cores and 48GB of RAM to do the actual live import. The posts and whatnot were done very fast, about 40 minutes, the attachments took another few hours, but the longest was the gallery import as this doesn't support multithreaded. All in all, the conversion took about 7 hours.

Then another few hours to copy all the data back over onto the original server, plus one copy onto Wasabi storage just incase it all mucked up.

As I had already converted my vb3 template to responsive, it was easy enough to emulate the same design with xF, just moderning it up a bit - so it wouldn't be such a big shock to the users.

So great, all done and ready to go live - and everything was great for about 3 days until Google decided to basically throw a wobbly.

Traffic dropped by about 33% and revenue just hit the floor (although the revenue part was kinda expected as AdSense would need to spider all the pages) so I just put that down to "needs must" - so let's just wait....

8 months later and where are we then?

Sadly, still down 25% - the traffic never recovered :(

View attachment 271854
(That's Jan > July of 2022 vs 2021)

View attachment 271852

As you can see 2020 and 2021 were running about the same until the end of November when the upgrade took place and it just got worse as time went on (this is sessions, not pageviews - they can be seen below)

View attachment 271853

That basically correlates to the sessions.

Now interestingly if we look at Google search console for the period May 1 > July 31 2022 vs 2021 (That's as far back as the comparison goes) we can see that impressions are up (or steady)

View attachment 271855

But clicks are down 20%

View attachment 271856
Which seems to be related to search position (down 30%) - although that doesn't explain the bit at the end.

View attachment 271857

Like I said, everything was 301'd correctly from the off - the ONLY thing that was different is that xF defaults to 20 items per page, whereas my vB install used 25 items per page. This means that I guess the old and new results weren't exactly "like for like" - would that have made a big difference, perhaps Google then didn't see it as moved content but totally new? I don't know, but I hope it wasn't that as if it's that important, the importer should have copied the setting over...

Would it be worth changing that setting back - or has too much time passed now to make a difference?

I did have the xF AND vB sitemaps submitted at the same time, so I was able to watch as one gained indexing and the other lost it. It took about 4 months until the flippening (more indexed results in the new one than the old). Also I amended my robots.txt to only index the important stuff - so tons of pages were dropped from that too. Currently out of the 500k submitted pages, 203k are indexed and 308k excluded.

Code:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /account/
Disallow: /attachments/
Disallow: /classifieds/authors/
Disallow: /donate/
Disallow: /goto/
Disallow: /login/
Disallow: /logout/
Disallow: /lost-password/
Disallow: /media/comments/
Disallow: /members/
Disallow: /online/
Disallow: /posts/
Disallow: /register/
Disallow: /search/
Disallow: /tags/
Disallow: /whats-new/
Disallow: /admin.php
Disallow: /index.php?sam-item/
Allow: /

Anyway - what is the take away from all this, was it all worth it...?

Ignoring the revenue side of things, definitely - the site as a whole is much nicer to use now and working on it is much much easier. So from a UX perspective, top marks!

From a business perspective though - it may have been the wrong decision. A 30% hit in revenue is massive, so you need to consider this carefully....
I am happy to run some reports for you. I have Powersuite and semrush.
 

benFF

Well-known member
I am happy to run some reports for you. I have Powersuite and semrush.
That's really kind mate, I'll get that block removed and let you know in a week or so (or however long their indexing takes)

I did use hrefs before and nothing stood out, as far as I can test everything was redirecting properly..
 

benFF

Well-known member
Whilst looking for more clues I went back through the old install settings and found out that actually I was showing 40 posts per page not 20!

I'm not sure why I had it set so high - but it would make sense that a whole lot of content per page is now missing.

The thing is though, I think 40 is much too high for a message count per page, so I'm not sure I would want to change it back (even though it could be causing these issues).

What does anyone else think?
 

cwe

Active member
I had some users complain to me just the other day that 20/page was too low. I have no idea what the right balance is for page load speed / SEO, but my users wanted more posts per page, so I accommodated them.
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
I converted from vB 3.7 a decade ago to XF 1.x and our traffic has only grown since then. I think, too, there was a large swell of traffic in 2020 when everyone was locked down, and the following two years have looked lower in comparison. I don't know how it would go today, though, if we converted.

I had some users complain to me just the other day that 20/page was too low. I have no idea what the right balance is for page load speed / SEO, but my users wanted more posts per page, so I accommodated them.
Oddly, our users have never asked for that change. But in the vB days, users were able to change the post count per page in their forum view settings. I think they could choose up to 50 posts per page (it's been a decade or more since I've used vB).
 

benFF

Well-known member
I guess something is tracking my browser sessions, as I got an ad for Semrush offering me a month free xD

So I signed up, added my site - and today checked the report.

My backlink report is interesting, it's showing thousands of broken backlinks. However, if I go into the report, then select random links which Semrush lists as 404 they all load fine!!

Semrush playing up or a sign of something not right with the server...?
 
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