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IP.Board 3.4 Dev Update: SEO Improvements

Posted by Matt , in 3.4.x, SEO, Beta 15 August 2012 · 16,073 views

As part of our regular SEO round-up when developing a major new release, I'm happy to run through the latest SEO changes we've made for IP.Board 3.4.

Friendly URL Changes
After much research and discussion with other SEO focused forum owners, I decided to revamp the FURL structure when handling additional page parameters.
The existing format uses the following structure:
board.com/topic/123-title/page__foo__bar

This is then parsed as foo=bar when converted to a normal query string.

The problem with this is that it confuses search engines because it looks like another page rather than just a variant of a single page. We have a canonical tag which helps to reduce confusion but it's still not perfect from an SEO perspective.

With that in mind, the new format is:
board.com/topic/123-title/?foo=bar

Now humans and search engines can quickly see that these are additional parameters of a single page. The canonical tag now backs this up and there is absolutely no confusion!

New page parameters
Another item that often came up when discussing URL structures and best practises was the current pagination method which is:
board.com/topic/123-title/page__st__30

This is then parsed as st=30 when converted to a normal query string. This tells IP.Board to start from the 30th post in that topic, which is page two if we have 30 posts per page.

This was less than optimal because some search engines had trouble understanding this was an additional page of the same topic.

I've made this more explicit by making use of a special page parameter:
board.com/topic/123-title/page-2
board.com/topic/123-title/page-2?foo=bar

The eagle eyed will notice that there no additional slash after page-2. This means that search engines (and humans!) will identify the root page, a page with parameters and a page of a topic:
board.com/topic/123-title/
board.com/topic/123-title/?foo=bar
board.com/topic/123-title/page-2
board.com/topic/123-title/page-2?foo=bar

In this case 'board.com/topic/123-title/' is the root page.

Of course, IP.Board will happily 301 redirect visitors using the old st=x method or the old page__x method.

Unread Topics
In IP.Board 3.3, there was a special 'unread' folder added to topic links on the board index. This was often confusing as it seemed like yet another page from the root topic. In 3.4 we're using:
board.com/topic/123-title/?view=getnewpost

This explicitly states that it is simply another way of viewing that single topic.

Statuses
In IP.Board 3.3, each status update from a member was given a new page, like so:
board.com/statuses/id/12345

During Google's Panda update, websites with 'thin' content could be penalised. It could be determined that these status update pages are very thin and a moderately busy board could generated thousands of them.

In IP.Board 3.4, we use the new FURL format:
board.com/status/user/1-matt/?status_id=12345

As you'd expect:
board.com/status/user/1-matt/
This URL shows all of the user's status updates.

Multiple SEO Titles
I've improved the SEO URL builder to allow for multiple 'seoTitles'. Right now, IP.Board 3.3 is limited to just one, so you can only create FURLs like so:
board.com/topic/123-#{title}/

Multiple titles will allow you to create complex titles like so:
board.com/#{title-1}/123-#{title-2}/

In addition to the bundled inclusion of the old IP.SEO, this wraps up most of the big SEO changes coming in 3.4. I'm confident that the new pagination and new FURL structures will clarify your site's structure to search engines making it easier to spider and associate content without being penalised for thin content.

Of course we're always open to well-constructed feedback on SEO improvements. Everything you see in this blog entry was implemented from feedback. Please start a topic in our feedback forums if you have SEO suggestions not directly related to the content of this blog entry.

  • thaivisa, IPB Bob, dr. Jekyll and 30 others like this



I like it!
nice, congrats
Good job!
Looks wonderful.
Really Good job but:

In the URL, If you can implement the category ID before the Topic, this will be very helpfull for configuring adservers to target url advertising by sections of our forum... l)

Kind regards,
keep on the good job guys :)
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Edward Shephard
Aug 15 2012 02:12 PM
Will any of this help reverse the 3.3 change where ipC can no longer serve pages through https without putting the whole site through https?
Would be nice to see periods not make words run together in urls. businessindex.us for example is turned into businessindexus thus the correct word is not in the url.
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Marcher Technologies
Aug 15 2012 05:26 PM

Multiple SEO Titles
I've improved the SEO URL builder to allow for multiple 'seoTitles'. Right now, IP.Board 3.3 is limited to just one, so you can only create FURLs like so:
board.com/topic/123-#{title}/

Multiple titles will allow you to create complex titles like so:
board.com/#{title-1}/123-#{title-2}/

Jumping up and down with unabashed glee on this.
    • BomAle and Mikey B like this
Can I request at least some type of confirmation on this bug before 3.4.0 is released? >_>

http://community.inv...tooltips-r38123

But otherwise, the changes look good.
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Aussie Cable
Aug 15 2012 09:39 PM
Now this looks like a very nice improvement Posted Image
I guess this makes sense to those that understand this stuff. Hopefully all the arm chair critics will now stop complaining.
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Expert Pixels
Aug 16 2012 09:14 AM
Would love to see a full case study... If anyone has a current board they can share stats with now and again after using the new seo functionality.. it would be interesting to see... ok so the changes would bounce around in search engines for 3-4 weeks but to see how big of an impact this made would be very interesting to monitor...

I would volunteer my site.. but it's still on my localhost for now.. if anyone is in a position to do this / use their site as an example i would be more than happy to monitor the changes and provide a in-depth analysis of the outcome / changes... Do pm me if your interested.

Regards, Darren
    • AllanLima likes this
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Marcher Technologies
Aug 16 2012 07:49 PM
One of the larger benefits of simply having the option as a developer for multiple SEO titles, and why I am excited :) .
board.com/user/123-#{title-1}/#{title-2}/
board.com/user/190639-extreame/topics/
less forced fragments/non-furl, more FURL depth allowed naturally, the way this fragmented actually held me off from adding /my-app-key/plugin-app-key/plugin-tab-key/
    • BomAle likes this
please add sitemap function to this new seo improvements as well thanks

please add sitemap function to this new seo improvements as well thanks


It already is.
I use ?topic=$id format anyway...
These add thoes links to words that pull ups ads. I hate them from a user point of view.
I think you replied to the wrong blog entry. This discussion is about SEO changes in 3.4.
Yes! SEO is already pretty great though certain URL formats have always irked me. 3.4 is sounding just amazing so far.

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