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XF SEO Tweaks

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by Razasharp, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    What SEO tweaks have you made to XF?

    What has worked for you?

    What didn't work?

    Do you have any tips on tweaking XF for SEO?
  2. ehd

    ehd Active Member

    Fill it with unique content.
  3. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    I've done the usual keyword research you'd do for any site description, but about the only other thing I've done is to add a custom TITLE value for the forum homepages so I can get an extra few keywords in. ;)
    Razasharp likes this.
  4. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    There really isn't much you need to do. The only stuff I've done (and it's just me being super anal mind you), is some minor things related to PageRank sculpting.
    Jeffin and Razasharp like this.
  5. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    What kind of minor things DP? :p
  6. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    Honestly, nothing even worth the effort. XenForo is really good straight out of the box for SEO.
    Brandon Sheley likes this.
  7. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    That's good to know, thanks.

    The only thing I was thinking of changing was the forum description to a H2, though technically it probably ought to remain a p.
  8. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    It's better as a <p>... it's a description, not a headline (which is what <Hx> tags are normally used for.
    Razasharp and BamaStangGuy like this.
  9. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    Yep, though I was going to use it as a headline (for most of the sections it would be) but think I'll leave it because of the other forums where it is not.
  10. RoldanLT

    RoldanLT Well-Known Member

    Like what you did on every Forum Title Suffix / Postfix that you removed? :)
    DeMelo likes this.
  11. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    Forgot about that... but no, that's not PageRank sculpting, that's just removing redundant/useless info from titles. :)

    Google is smart enough that it will add the name of the forum to the title if it deems fit. For example: https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=digitalpoint+premium+membership

    In fact, it's smart enough to differentiate by sub-domain... Notice the result from www is tagged "Digital Point Solutions" and the one from the forums subdomain is tagged as "Digital Point Forums". In fact the name of the site (under XF options) is just "Digital Point", so Google is smart enough to do that on it's own.
    Donny likes this.
  12. RoldanLT

    RoldanLT Well-Known Member

    Yes, I already tried what you did last year :D
    But when people bookmark your page, there's no Identity on it.
  13. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    People use bookmarks? And even if they did, do you *not* go to a site because you forget the name of the site, but it had the right info? :)
    RoldanLT likes this.
  14. RoldanLT

    RoldanLT Well-Known Member

    OK you've convinced me, I'll revert my changes similar to what you did (y)
  15. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    I would take the prefix and forum name out too. Got rid of prefix but can't see the forum name being added anywhere - is it controlled somewhere else?
  16. ForestForTrees

    ForestForTrees Well-Known Member

    My team and I have been on a month long project to create a curated set of tags to create a tagging system. I run a WordPress blog that has much lower PageRank than my forum and have noticed that it comes up in searches at a much higher location than I would expect it to compared to my forum. (They are on separate domains, hence the pagerank disparity.) The pages that tend to come up from the blog are the tag pages, and the effect is so striking that I've become very interested in tags. I'm currently reading Inside the Googleplex, and it turned me on to how important a signal anchor text is. I think that one of the great benefits of tagging lies in how it adds helpful anchor text to your site.

    (I got a bit carried away and forgot to mention that we're using XenTag by @xfrocks and @Dinh Thanh. It's a great product. We got the branding-free version, which I think is crucial for SEO.)

    Tagging also gets important keywords on the page more regularly. For example, based on looking at the Content Keywords list from my Google Webmaster Tools data, Google seems to think that my site is about Walt, Forest, Glenview, and Herbie. It turns out that those have very little to do with the actual subjects we discuss. Rather, they are in the usernames of high postcount posters, so they appear an awful lot in anchor text. I made the following video to explain this to my team. It may be a little basic as they are subject matter experts, but know very little about SEO, and it is targeted at them.
    Post hummingbird and with the increase in topic based search, I suspect that the content keyword list will become more important rather than less. While I definitely realize that not everyone will think it worth their while to optimize quite this intensely, my forum is my baby, so it's something that I'm excited to do.

    If tagging is done carefully and well, I think that it can be great for pagerank sculpting. Most threads don't have a huge number of incoming links, but do have quite a few outgoing links on the page. Tagging a thread is like a link exchange between the thread and the tag page, so it consolidates pagerank on the two URLs.

    To sculpt pagerank, we're going to try to apply more tags to our better threads. For example, most users won't be allowed to create new tags, but I'm going to allow people to make their own "favorites" tags that only they can apply. For example, I could make my own "forestfortrees' favorites" tag to tag my favorite threads. (Our forum is small and tight knit enough that we can enforce rules like "only forestfortrees may apply the 'forestfortrees' favorites' tag" through social pressure. Though I would kill for logging of tag changes to be built into XenTag) This will mean lots more tags for the best threads.

    Of course, with Google's Panda update, we have to worry about thin content. That is why we are having a curated list of tags within our tagging system. Basically, this means that the permissions are set so that only admins, moderators, and people trained in tagging can create new tags. We aim to have a curated list of about 600 tags based on high value search terms and categories of posts that might be useful for our users. We will also be adding description text to each tag that appears on it's tag page. (Another upgrade to XenTag that I would kill for is to be able to use BBCode in the description text on tag pages. This would also further help with pagerank sculpting.) With only 600 tag pages, we aren't worried about thin content issues.

    So, that's us. We're big into tags and they are super important to our SEO strategy. I also think that they are terrific from a UX point of view because they make the forum for browsable for someone interested in a specific topic, but that is the topic of a different post.
    empire, Joe Link, HammerDown and 5 others like this.
  17. ForestForTrees

    ForestForTrees Well-Known Member

    By the way, the absolute KINGS of SEO tagging are Stack Overflow and the entire Stack Exchange network. Not far behind is Wikipedia, which calls them "Categories," but in terms of UX, pagerank sculpting, and keywords, they are pretty much the same.

    Note that both sites absolutely rock in SEO.

    Here's some training material I wrote for my team about Stack Exchange. It starts out a bit basic, but has some hard earned links and info as well.

    Stack Overflow
    • Stack overflow is an internet community that is basically in the position that we hope to be in eventually. It has a very carefully managed tagging system and that is part of the reason why it seems like whenever I search for anything about programming, Google shows me answers from Stack Overflow at the very top of it's results page. We want us to love us the same way, so it may help us to study Stack Overflow a bit.

    • Here is their blog post about tagging. They can customize their tagging software to do exactly what they want it to do, whereas our tagging software will have to evolve more slowly, based on how much time and money I can free up to manage the process. What I got from reading the blog post is that they very carefully manage their tagging system, have extensive documentation to manage, inspire and educate their team, and have come up with a really terrific official list of specific tags. http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/tag-folksonomy-and-tag-synonyms/

    • Stack overflow also has difficulty when they find a tag that gets used a lot that they want to get rid of. In particular, they had a tag called "homework," and they decided that it wasn't helping anyone. It was designed to be applied when someone had a question that was about a programming question from a homework assignment, and after a very lengthy discussion, they decided to get rid of it. Of course, they had 20,000 threads tagged with the word "homework," and they had to go through them one by one to fix them. I'd guess that they had this many threads because lots of college students tried to get their homework questions answered by posting on Stack Overflow. :) The idea of going through all of the threads amazes me, though, but it is what a large "crowd sourced" website can accomplish once it gets big enough. Also, this sort of attention to detail - quality over quantity - is part of why Google likes them so much.

    • Some of their tagging discussions can be found here: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/tags?sort=votes&pageSize=15 . Don't feel obligated to read all of that, but it might be helpful to see that other sites go through discussions that are even more in depth.

    • Stack Overflow has been so successful that they have branched out and created about 100 other websites about different subjects. On their cooking website, you can see them discussing things like when to pluralize tags and what verb tense to use in tags: http://meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/511/retagging-recap
    • A library and information science blogger weighs in on the importance of tagging discipline.
      • Christina K. Pikas is a science and engineering librarian in a special library as well as a doctoral student in information studies. In her blog she did an entry on the tagging system at a very popular question and answer site for programmers called Stack Overflow. Apparently, they have realized the importance of "tagging discipline" as well and have also decided that the best strategy is to come up with a curated list of official tags in order to avoid chaos.

      • In her blog post she uses some acronyms and insider information:
        • LIS = Library and Information Science

        • reputation points = on Stack Overflow, (SO), people can like your posts just like on our site. The more people "like" your posts, the more "reputation points" you get. They even have a leaderboard, like we do: http://www.mydomain.org/forum/members/?type=likes

        • Because they are a startup with millions of dollars of funding from investors, they can hire full time programmers to make their tagging system amazing. Our budget is tiny in comparison, but we have a great community and our software is getting better and better.
      • The following is an excerpt from her blog post:
        • Disciplined tagging or how Stack Overflow plans to control their vocabulary
        • Aug 04 2010 Published by Christina Pikas under information organization,information retrieval, Information Science, [Information&Communication]

        • Carol H tweeted this blog post today from Stack Overflow, the wildly popular question and answer site for IT, CS, software dev, etc. Essentially, if you get stuck, you submit a question and you provide subject tags to help people find it. Answering questions gets you reputation points.

        • A collection of user-generated tags becomes a “folksonomy” (to use a worn out term), but typically in social software sites, the choice of the tag is completely up to the user so you get multiple versions of the same term (US, United States, USA, usa, U.S.A., etc), you have meta terms (to-do, to-read), and sometimes some unpleasant stuff. LIS researchers in information organization have done a ton of papers on these things and people who do taxonomies for a living sometimes use them to help determine “preferred” terms.

        • So according to this blog post. SO seeds new sites with a few sample terms and they started by letting everyone add new terms. Then they allowed moderators to merge terms. Then they required higher and higher reputation scores to be able to add new terms. But the terms were getting out of control. So this is cool, they now have wiki scope notes and synonyms for terms.
      • Note that her blog post has its own tags. They are the links on the second line. Her tags are information organization,information retrieval, Information Science, and [Information&Communication]
    DeMelo, Joe Link, ibrian and 5 others like this.
  18. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the posts FFT - I am a fan of tagging as well, and would like to incorporate it into my forum (but actually point to info on the main site) - wonder if someone would help me code a plug-in for it :p
  19. RoldanLT

    RoldanLT Well-Known Member

    DeMelo and Razasharp like this.
  20. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    Do you know of that lets you specify a list of tags and set the urls for them? That's the sort of thing I want for my dog breed website - where people can link to the profiles with #hastags (and autocomplete)

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