Google SEO Forums
When someone migrates a forum to a new platform or starts up a new community, SEO is often a top concern. If you trust that Google and others are trying to provide the most relevant search results, then it’s better to focus on building a thriving community with lots of useful content and assume that SEO will take care of itself.
Forum SEO And Google
The big search engines like Google don’t fully disclose how they rank search results and so there are lots of opinions about SEO out there. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and what we think are the best answers. If you disagree with with one of these answers, please share in the comments.
Vanilla’s SEO Tips
1. Does having a forum in folder like get me better SEO than putting it on a sub-domain like forum.domain.com?
This question comes up because you want to make sure that all your inbound links are juicing the entire website, not just a part of it. Our opinion is that there is no difference if the forum is on a folder or sub-domain. If the content on a sub-domain is on a different web-server and IP address, it’s a good idea to register the sub-domain in your Google Webmaster Tools account. This way, Google knows that the website and forum are one and the same and you’ll get SEO juice for inbound links to the forum.
2. Does a forum need a sitemap?
Sitemaps are XML files that help search engines find your website URLs and can also provide some information about those URLs to help the search engine crawl them more intelligently. When no sitemap is present, search engines will simply crawl by visiting links it finds on your site. Forums have a very clear tree-like content structure and so sitemaps aren’t necessary. As for the other information that can be added to a sitemap, we trust that the search engines will set their own behaviours based on what they find on your forum.
3. Does the URL structure matter?
Each new discussion is going to have a unique URL that looks something like this:
Vanilla can display URLs in both these formats and we haven’t seen one outperform the other. When it comes to forum post URLs, the real deciding factor is that they are based on the Discussion title. Members of your forum are not likely writing titles with SEO and keywords in mind, so this is something you cannot fully control.