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#1 Mike54

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:31 PM

OK, Charles, remember you did ask for some suggestions.

1. I would like to see a report page to show when each sitemap was generated and how many URLs were included.
2. I would like to see a report to show when the sitemaps are accessed and by what user agent.
3. I would like to see a simple means to insert Google Analytics code into each page, without the need of an add-on.
4. I would like to see FURLs become user definable. What if someone wants underscores for separators, rather than hyphens? What if I want my forum URLs to appear as domain.com/f12/? What if I want my topic URLs to appear as domain.com/f12/topic-keywords-784/?
5. I would like to see a means to define custom rewrite rules for add-ons, so pages we want indexed are rewritten.
6. I would like to see Meta Tags dynamically-created with relevant keywords from the given page, rather than being user-defined on a page-by-page basis.
7. I would like to see external page titles added to external domain links as anchor text, to create keyword-rich links.
8. I would like to see user-defined stopwords (a, an, the, with, the, that, etc.) removed from FURLs
9. I would like to see rel="nofollow" become user-defined for all internal and external links, rather than just on or off.
10.I would like to see something similar to vBSEO's Virtual HTML Display, so users could define repetitive template code to be rendered with Javascript, to remove repetitive content and unnecessary links. Side column code could be wrapped in Virtual HTML tags, leaving the convenience there for users, but eliminating all the links from the spiders. Same with the Active Users display and the Calendar display. Removing the useless links would increase the weight of the remaining links on the page, which should be highly relevant, if the admin has done his or her job correctly.
11. I would like a simple means to eliminate the Forum Jump menu for guests. This would eliminate the need to generate all the non-relevant HTML code and also eliminate all the content from the page, increasing the content to code ratio.
12. I would like a simple means to eliminate the Last post Info column for guests, for the same reasons.
13. I would like to see a means to add image size attributes to all forum images.

Some of the ongoing problems people are mentioning could be eliminated by implementing some of these suggestions. The ability to define URL structure would be great for new sites. (Of course it would create havoc, as admins with established and well-indexed sites would want to change their URLs.) The ability to create custom rewrite rules for forum add-ons is also nice, as it allows an admin to rewrite everything he wants to have indexed. On my vB/vBSEO sites, I would rewrite any resource I wanted to have indexed, without the use of any extensions. (Remember, extensions can be and have been deprecated.) From that point, creating a robots.txt file was wickedly simple. I merely disallowed all .php scripts. Actually, to confound the wannabe crackers, I would disallow all extensions - .htm, .html, .cfm, etc - just to throw them off the track. I do not want or need stopwords in my URLs. Words like 'the', 'or' and 'a' are not keywords, so why am I lengthening my URLs by including them? A short URL is a good URL and yes, I do think a URL using nothing more than forumid/topicid (domain.com/f12/t864/) will be indexed as well as any other URL with loads of keywords and stopwords. The definition of image size attributes will speed up page rendering and will also help search engines determine the relevancy of images to the text surrounding them, as they calculate keyword relevancy for a given page.

I'm pleased to see IPS addressing SEO in a positive manner, but the addition of a sitemap generator, a graphic representation of the search engine logs and user-defined meta tags is a far cry from search engine optimization. Give me the ability to determine what links I want re="nofollow" added to and which I don't and then I'm suddenly optimizing my pages for the search engines. Give me the ability to dump off all the user profile links from my forum index page and then I'm suddenly optimizing my page for the search engines. Give me the ability to dump off a lot of wasted and repetitive code for the guests (search engines) and I am suddenly optimizing my page for the search engines.

I use and appreciate Dan's Search Activity add-on, but how is that ever going to be confused for something that will help with search engine optimization?

See the differences?

Charles, are you sure you wanted input and suggestions? ;)
  • mikesound, karen65, NiftyWolfie and 2 others like this

#2 Dan

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 08:10 PM

Mike, what you've got to remember is that this is just a version 1.0. Sure, at the moment it doesn't do everything under the sun, but it is certainly not a far cry from an SEO app - It's tools built and used purely for SEO purposes and ones that have been unquestionably helpful thus far.

To address some specifics:

1. I would like to see a report page to show when each sitemap was generated and how many URLs were included.


This is already visible in the log, but I can make a more user friendly report if that would actually be of help?

2. I would like to see a report to show when the sitemaps are accessed and by what user agent.
3. I would like to see a simple means to insert Google Analytics code into each page, without the need of an add-on.


These are both pretty simple - I'll see if I can get them in before release.

4. I would like to see FURLs become user definable. What if someone wants underscores for separators, rather than hyphens? What if I want my forum URLs to appear as domain.com/f12/? What if I want my topic URLs to appear as domain.com/f12/topic-keywords-784/?
5. I would like to see a means to define custom rewrite rules for add-ons, so pages we want indexed are rewritten.
8. I would like to see user-defined stopwords (a, an, the, with, the, that, etc.) removed from FURLs


We've looked at ways of doing item #4 and may add this in a release pretty soon, but it's a little more complex than it sounds. As for #5, I'm not entirely sure what you mean? #8 would need to be implemented with #4.

6. I would like to see Meta Tags dynamically-created with relevant keywords from the given page, rather than being user-defined on a page-by-page basis.


This is very difficult for an external app to do across the board. It'd be much more efficient for the applications themselves to generate such meta data when generating the page, which I believe is something we've been aiming to do across the board.

7. I would like to see external page titles added to external domain links as anchor text, to create keyword-rich links.


This is, of course, possible - but would your site not suffer due to the inevitable slowdown of having to pull those page titles for every link?

9. I would like to see rel="nofollow" become user-defined for all internal and external links, rather than just on or off.


Are you sure that nofollow is something you'd want your users to be able to do, and be burdoned with having to decide about? I can understand having the choice between giving a group access to post followed links, and I'm sure we'll implement that - but per link?

10.I would like to see something similar to vBSEO's Virtual HTML Display, so users could define repetitive template code to be rendered with Javascript, to remove repetitive content and unnecessary links. Side column code could be wrapped in Virtual HTML tags, leaving the convenience there for users, but eliminating all the links from the spiders. Same with the Active Users display and the Calendar display. Removing the useless links would increase the weight of the remaining links on the page, which should be highly relevant, if the admin has done his or her job correctly.


This is just my personal opinion, so it does not reflect on whether or not it will be added to the application - but I think this is more damaging than it is good. Hiding markup in Javascript just *sounds* shady and decidedly dark gray hat tactics. I'd personally prefer to take the approach of slimming down other markup and generating more things on the fly in a valid manner, than this - but again - we may still add this functionality either way.

For what it's worth though, we have evidence that Google do already blindly pull links out of our Javascript that are not intended to be displayed for guests at all, and crawl them anyway. This makes the relative benefits of this feature a lot less than you might feel they are.

11. I would like a simple means to eliminate the Forum Jump menu for guests. This would eliminate the need to generate all the non-relevant HTML code and also eliminate all the content from the page, increasing the content to code ratio.
12. I would like a simple means to eliminate the Last post Info column for guests, for the same reasons.


This is good, I'll add it to the list.

13. I would like to see a means to add image size attributes to all forum images.

[..] The definition of image size attributes will speed up page rendering and will also help search engines determine the relevancy of images to the text surrounding them, as they calculate keyword relevancy for a given page.[..]


Will add this to the list for investigation, again it's not as simple as it sounds from an external app, but we'll see. As for the impact on rendering time, I don't think it's really a concern, by comparison to the above items. I'd also suspect that if image size is of concern when it comes to determining relevancy, then the search engines will calculate the size for themselves.

Give me the ability to dump off all the user profile links from my forum index page and then I'm suddenly optimizing my page for the search engines.


I'd disagree on this one. I see little to no benefit in favouring search engines to such a level that users lose out, I'd suggest that the search engines would agree with me.

Give me the ability to dump off a lot of wasted and repetitive code for the guests (search engines) and I am suddenly optimizing my page for the search engines.


I absolutely agree.

I use and appreciate Dan's Search Activity add-on, but how is that ever going to be confused for something that will help with search engine optimization?


Because, frankly, it does help. Sure if you use Google Analytics, it might not seem like a particularly powerful stats tool, but it can give you some insight into what's going on in relation to search engines and the users that come from them, and over time it'll develop into something that provides a level of detail that Google Analytics cannot.

Charles, are you sure you wanted input and suggestions? ;)


We do want input, and we do want suggestions. We'll listen to them all and implement a lot of them regardless of our personal opinions of their merit. However, we're out to help administrators optimize their sites, but we're not going to do it at the cost of user experience, whether that be removing features they might find useful for the sake of a 0.2 second increase in rendering speed or by piling in features that slow servers to a crawl.

#3 Mike54

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 09:05 AM

Dan, I appreciate your reply. And again, I do appreciate IPS is moving forward with trying to optimize the software even more.

This is already visible in the log, but I can make a more user friendly report if that would actually be of help?

Yes, it would be convenient to have a report available in Search Activity, so the information would all be located in one place. Again, it's a convenience issue more than anything else. (read: I'm lazy.)

As for #5, I'm not entirely sure what you mean?

It would be nice to be able to create a custom rewrite rule for pages and add-on scripts that are not currently rewritten, in case the admin wants to see that page indexed. Like I mentioned earlier, when I can be sure I have eliminated file extensions from all pages I want indexed, my robots.txt file gets stupid simple.

This is, of course, possible - but would your site not suffer due to the inevitable slowdown of having to pull those page titles for every link?

Yes, there is that possibility, because nothing is free, not even in SEO. But as with all other things, there is the trade-off in having links appear with keyword-rich anchor text. This is another convenience issue, because we can all take the time to create our own anchor text. But when my members don't or won't take the time, I know I'm still covered with page titles being pulled in automatically.

Are you sure that nofollow is something you'd want your users to be able to do, and be burdoned with having to decide about? I can understand having the choice between giving a group access to post followed links, and I'm sure we'll implement that - but per link?

My fault for not making myself more clear. Let me rephrase that to say, I would like to see rel="nofollow" become admin-defined for all internal and external links, rather than just on or off. As an example, I would like to determine whether I want member profile links in the postbit to be nofollow, or if I want member profile links on the index page to be nofollow. I try to keep total links on any given page to a minimum, as we both know Google likes to see the number under 100. So let me shut off the member profile links on the index page, so I can give the links to my forums (read: my content) more weight.

If you look at just a single post on a topic, there are a ton of non-relevant links present. The link to the member profile is only one example. And all of those links hurt the signal to noise ratio of the page. Most admins feel content is king and that certainly is a large part of the equation. But it doesn't end there. It is also necessary to let the king shine on its own page and getting rid of all the background noise is how that is accomplished.

This is just my personal opinion, so it does not reflect on whether or not it will be added to the application - but I think this is more damaging than it is good. Hiding markup in Javascript just *sounds* shady and decidedly dark gray hat tactics.

It may 'sound' shady, but I used it with excellent results on four, vBSEO-enabled sites.

I think we would agree that a large message to welcome guests and to give them a call to register an account can be a valuable tool. This kind of message can give guests an overview of what the forum is about, provide them with a registration page link, provide them with a link to something like a photo gallery page, provide them with a link to the articles pages, etc. Sounds like a good idea, right? But there we are, adding more links to every page on the site. Not to mention we are adding text to the top of every page on the site. Repetitive text. Text the spiders will have to wade through before they can ever get to the page's keyword-rich content.

So, is the welcome message a good idea or a bad idea? Do some intext searches and look how many vBulletin forums have the, "...you may need to register before you can post..." message in the SERPs. Is that the kind of 'content' you want indexed on your site?

In years gone by, we would create welcome message images and then we would hotmap areas of the image to provide links to registration pages, etc. Which was a tremendous pain. With the Virtual HTML Display, you could do a text welcome message and wrap the message in virtual HTML tags. I would wrap the What's Going On table in the same tags. Navigation modules displayed on the page would also get wrapped in the tags.

For what it's worth though, we have evidence that Google do already blindly pull links out of our Javascript that are not intended to be displayed for guests at all, and crawl them anyway. This makes the relative benefits of this feature a lot less than you might feel they are.

Again, I think we can agree that the search engines are getting smarter as time moves forward. I feel there was a time when a static-appearing forum URL was really necessary, but I no longer feel the same way. We've gone from a time when having static URLs isn't so important, but a keyword-rich URL is an advantage (note I did not say necessary). I see clear evidence every day that Google can deal with whatever URL it comes up against.

The only absolute in search engine optimization is that Google does a good job of keeping people like you and I in the dark as much as they can. ;)

Because, frankly, it does help. Sure if you use Google Analytics, it might not seem like a particularly powerful stats tool, but it can give you some insight into what's going on in relation to search engines and the users that come from them, and over time it'll develop into something that provides a level of detail that Google Analytics cannot.

I agree Search Activity is a really great tool. You know how long I've been using it. And I look it over every day.

What I meant by my earlier observation is that while Search Activity is a great tool to help an admin see the results of his labors, it offers nothing in the way of optimizing any site page for the search engines. It doesn't change anything, either on-page or off-page that will optimize a site. The practice of search engine optimization is the practice of making individual pages more search engine-friendly. Getting content in front of the spiders as quickly as possible, eliminating noisy links and speeding up page load times will optimize a page. Looking at a tool that represents search engine phrases and spider visits doesn't accomplish any of those things.

One of the biggest negative points the vBSEO naysayers would use was how much load it placed on a server. When I upgraded from vB 3.6.x to 3.7.0, I saw much more server load than vBSEO had ever presented. (And for the record, IPB places much less load on my server than vB did.) So I am convinced a lot of SEO features can be added without slowing servers to a crawl.

All of the features I suggested are features I have used and currently use in vBSEO-enabled vB sites with great results. Some of the features are down to simple convenience, some of them are features that help/ed me optimize every page on the site/s. Call me anal if you like, but I've tracked and recorded several data points from Google Analytics and Google Webmaster on a weekly basis since back in April 2008. I have over 2.5 years of recorded data to show me what works and what doesn't. I've found a simple template edit that worked very well with vB absolutely will not provide the same results with IPB, for instance. Touch base with Charles about the anomaly I recorded when I upgraded to 3.1.3. I've talked with both Matt and Charles about it and while I am now confident there were no deliberate changes made with that release, I am also confident my recorded data is not lying to me. And the anomaly only existed on sites I had upgraded to 3.1.3 and not on the sites still running 3.1.2. I think I've managed to turn things around, but it will take several weeks to indicate whether I am right or wrong. I have all my sites running on 3.1.4 now, but I approached the upgrade with trepidation.

You can see I have always adopted a very methodical approach to SEO. And in the early days, I took my fair share of lumps. But I've developed a solid outline of which practices will work and which practices won't. I'm not the fellow who thinks having keywords in my URLs is what search engine optimization is all about. Apparently my employer feels the same way. ;)




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