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SEO Rankings flying all over the place, and why is this..


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#101 Steven UK

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 04:56 PM

think about it for a moment. How do you get to a thread in IPB? the answer is through the forum index page where the thread is posted. that is 1 link to the topic only. But in each page of the thread in question there is going to be link to the tags associated with the thread. If the thread has 5 pages then that is 5 links to the tags. Hence google would think that the tag page is more important because it has 5 links :smile:


Thank you for your input, although that is not correct. We have tested tags with WordPress for years, and the results have never really surpassed the content before, although we have fixed the tag issue, by simply not using them anymore.

while the best place to get answers to these questions would be google webmaster forum.


With all due respect, that made me laugh. No, Google webmaster forums is full of Google fanboys who have never run a real website business in their lives, but love the sound of their own voices, because it makes them feel self-important. 99% have zero experience out there in 'the field'.

I mentioned earlier, that we run many websites, and have done for years, multiple companies, blue-chip clients, etc. etc. All based around ranking websites, and we have also runs forums for over 10 years, with other software providers, VB, phbb, etc. So when I come to a thread like this, today, it is for a specific reason. That reason being, that something is wrong with the software. Unless your business model is directly related to search engines positions (and if not, why not, because all business is about traffic, retail foot-flow, or internet traffic), then most people may be unaware of the problems.

I deal in results, and not passive activity, which is why the testing I have done, found that the results were out of the ordinary, hence the reason I asked the question here. The search engines are confused with the results our forum is sending them during crawling of the site, and as a result, our efforts are being wasted.

The problem now, is that we are being told the issue is 'because we made simple modifications to a standard template', which confuses us even more. There is a problem, and I hoped to find the answer. Like I stated 2 times already. I am not moaning, but hoped to find a solution, and I also thank the people that have made suggestions. Advice Appreciated as always.

#102 Rimi

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 04:58 PM

We told you how to fix it...just revert the template. Would you like me to do it for you?
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#103 Steven UK

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 05:01 PM

Shigure, now that is an offer I cannot refuse. Thank you :wub:

#104 Weppa333

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 02:42 AM

The problem with SEO is that everyone's an expert, and it's never good enough.


It's not about beeing an expert, it's about doing our work as users too... Matt keeps asking "what do you want" and never gets an answer. Mine will probably be dismissed :-) , but here's my answer.

- stop using URL that are not human readable (ipb's page/lastmessage urls look awful )
- again focus on "human bearable" URLs for threads ( blah.com/forumname/topicname.html the rest, as ARGUMENTs)
- stop having threads as pseudo directories
- if possible, you should even try to avoid thread ID is URLs (like wordpress does)
- stop havin everything under /forum/ or /topic/ , at least have an option not to.
- stop using canonicals to try to "fix" stuff.
- stop serving so many links to bots and unreg users
- stop having "rate this topic" as the first words (out of header/footer) on a page
- stop pagination links on top of the page
- cut unused stuff (nobody needs to sort by threads views for example, nobody needs to jump from page 200 to page 13, nobody uses multiquote)

The basic rule of google seo is that it has to look like STATIC CONTENT, and a good seo URL is an URL you could dictate to someone.

that's just my opinion,

#105 Mikey B

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:05 AM

- cut unused stuff (nobody needs to sort by threads views for example, nobody needs to jump from page 200 to page 13, nobody uses multiquote)

A bit of a bold statement as I see multiquote has been used even in this topic..
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#106 Matt

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:21 AM

If I may address some points:

- stop using URL that are not human readable (ipb's page/lastmessage urls look awful )

You really don't need to route all URLs via human readable url. Especially content you do not want spidering heavily. Unless you have lots of /findpost/p/123/st/123 which is not really human readable.

- again focus on "human bearable" URLs for threads ( blah.com/forumname/topicname.html the rest, as ARGUMENTs)

I would agree that we should switch to a query string for variables. I want to make this change in 3.4. You wouldn't want the forum name in the URL as that would get indexed heavily and also if you moved the topic, you'd have to keep track and 301 it correctly.

- if possible, you should even try to avoid thread ID is URLs (like wordpress does)

Sadly not possible. At least without having topic/test-101/ (assuming there are 100 topics called test already). Also, I think that in general comparing Wordpress is like comparing apples to oranges. Even the most busy Wordpress blog may only create 30-40 new articles a day. A busy forum can create thousands. And don't discount that with a blog *you* are almost the sole content creator so you can tailor your content better.

- stop havin everything under /forum/ or /topic/ , at least have an option not to.

Honestly, I'm not convinced this is a problem. There's no way of knowing for sure without a lot of recoding and seeing what happens.

- stop using canonicals to try to "fix" stuff.

We don't. We use best practises which says to use canonicals when there are multiple versions of the same page based on user prefs.

- stop serving so many links to bots and unreg users

We have in 3.3. Check out our blogs from a few months ago.

- stop pagination links on top of the page

But they're convenient for humans.

- cut unused stuff (nobody needs to sort by threads views for example, nobody needs to jump from page 200 to page 13, nobody uses multiquote)

A very broad statement that most will not agree with. Regardless, quote/multiquote etc are not shown for guests and bots.

The basic rule of google seo is that it has to look like STATIC CONTENT, and a good seo URL is an URL you could dictate to someone.

Each topic has a static permalink. Each post is now an anchor from that permalink. The next big step is to move the /page__ vars to /?page=x - this will stop Google from gobbling up pages and considering them unique to the root page. As mentioned above, this is not a small job and will be strongly considered for 3.4.

I disagree that it has to look like static content also. The internet stopped being plain .html pages about 10 years ago when PHP (and Ruby, etc) really took off.

I appreciate your contributions, though. SEO is a vast topic with little in the way of 'right' and 'wrong'.
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#107 AlexJ

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:45 AM

- cut unused stuff (nobody needs to sort by threads views for example, nobody needs to jump from page 200 to page 13, nobody uses multiquote)


Just because you don't use it doesn't mean no body uses it. I do use multi quote every now and then.

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#108 Enkidu

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 05:56 AM

With all due respect, that made me laugh. No, Google webmaster forums is full of Google fanboys who have never run a real website business in their lives, but love the sound of their own voices, because it makes them feel self-important. 99% have zero experience out there in 'the field'


Actually the forum is monitored by googlers and I can assure you that if your issue is interesting, it will get to Google and they will help you out. I'm talking from personal experience. Just for the sake of proving me wrong, why not try it for yourself?

Thank you for your input, although that is not correct. We have tested tags with WordPress for years, and the results have never really surpassed the content before, although we have fixed the tag issue, by simply not using them anymore.


the structure of WP is way different than IPB. You can't make this argument. The precedence of results in google is determined by the rank of that page which is roughly determined by how many back links the page has. There are no secretes or hidden formulas or conspiracy. It is as simple as that.

I mentioned earlier, that we run many websites, and have done for years, multiple companies, blue-chip clients, etc. etc. All based around ranking websites, and we have also runs forums for over 10 years, with other software providers, VB, phbb, etc. So when I come to a thread like this, today, it is for a specific reason. That reason being, that something is wrong with the software. Unless your business model is directly related to search engines positions (and if not, why not, because all business is about traffic, retail foot-flow, or internet traffic), then most people may be unaware of the problems.


I'm not saying IPB has no SEO issue. But comparing IPB to phpBB means nothing. Google is basically one big unsupervised classifier. Giving the fact that phpBB, WP, and vB are more popular it will only make sense that google understands them better. To be honest, many googlers have WP blogs and they would use its structure as an example/platform to come up with/test their ideas.

finally let me give you some examples of my experience with google forums

1- http://productforums...5U/ERXnmVuQ7-UJ
IPS fixed that and the issue with non Latin characters was fixed by google in a matter of hours!
2- http://productforums...6s/QtiMl_KV3PEJ
IPS fixed that as well


All you need to do is ask. If it is IPS fault then they will fix it. If it is google fault then again your topic will be marked for google support to respond to it

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#109 Enkidu

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:05 AM

stop using canonicals to try to "fix" stuff.


this should read: stop shooting your own foot with canonical links. Hopefully IPS will fix that in the next major release :)









-------------------------------
for reference: this post http://community.inv...s/#entry2270891 has canonical of http://community.inv...s/page__st__100

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#110 Matt

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:13 AM

for reference: this post http://community.inv...s/#entry2270891 has canonical of http://community.inv...s/page__st__100


Actually - not quite true. If you check your post, you'll see the link is now correct /page__st__100/#entryx

The bug is fast reply doesn't add the page when it builds that link - but only you will ever see that as it's returned by ajax. When the page is refreshed or loaded by someone else, the 'real' post is shown.
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#111 Matt

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:24 AM

I'm just spinning my wheels here, but if we assume tags are indexed better because they have more back links because for each tag there is (tag x ( topics x pages) ), would it help to have a "Back to first page" link on all subsequent pages somewhere? This might increase the back links to the root page where the most keywords are.
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#112 Weppa333

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:35 AM

As someone stated, nobody as the smallest idea of what are the exact reasons putting a page before another on google.
And I agree with that. Again, content is key, this is true as well.

On the other hand, one should not dismiss someone's experience with SEO, this is something that can be easily reverse engineered. Having communities online since as long as Matt is programming, I believe I start to have an opinion about how google classifies stuff in my "niche" markets.

imho, "on page" SEO is rather good with IPB, honnestly, I find it better than VB's.
XF's on page SEO is excellent, mostly superior to IPB because it DOES cut the crap. ( Or have less features, immv :) )

VB's is good at SEO for two reasons
1) it's VB ! It's obvious that someone at google DID write some code to process their template properly. Even old 3.6 forums are processed by google using breadcrumbs like if you were using metadata ! So googlebot has extra code for VB, it's obvious.
2) the URLs are far superior, and VBSEO URLs are imho top notch. It is important to have a URL structure that can be browsed by users. for me the goal should be URLs like

wbesite.com/forum-name/thread-title.html , /thread-title-page2.html, etc.

What's wrong with VBSEO is that it created dead ends : people cannot "edit" VBSEO URLs and this leads to many 404 because people like your url structure, but also think they can temper with it. they SHOULD be able to, that would be ideal.

Of course, Matt has to deal with us, users, wanting 20 post per threads, some other 30, has to deal with posts beeing deleted, moved, etc; and I understand the reasoning behind the way IPB does page browsing

Again I'm just providing user input, I understand Matt's frustration with threads "IPB SEO sucks" and little advice on what to change.
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#113 Enkidu

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:56 AM

Actually - not quite true. If you check your post, you'll see the link is now correct /page__st__100/#entryx

The bug is fast reply doesn't add the page when it builds that link - but only you will ever see that as it's returned by ajax. When the page is refreshed or loaded by someone else, the 'real' post is shown.


thank you for clarifying that :)


I'm just spinning my wheels here, but if we assume tags are indexed better because they have more back links because for each tag there is (tag x ( topics x pages) ), would it help to have a "Back to first page" link on all subsequent pages somewhere? This might increase the back links to the root page where the most keywords are.


what I said is basically what I suspect. Maybe it will make things worse. The best place to ask is, again, google webmaster forum. maybe my analysis is all wrong. Maybe Google needs more time to figure out the new structure of IPB. But I suggest to do a little experiment on some website and see if that improves it although it wouldn't count as science it is certainly better than implementing something based on a hunch by a guy like me ;)

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#114 Matt

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:09 AM

I'm reluctant to start chopping up the FURL structure at this point because it'll create quite a mess in terms of upgrades.

We'd need a very robust 301 engine and I'm not sure that all site owners will have the stomach for potentially dropping a whole bunch of indexed links.

One change we can make, as I've mentioned previously is using

/topic/123-hello-world/?sort=posts

I'm fairly sure I can add in /page-2/ also as we have since removed user level changing of posts per topic. We'd need to warn admins to stop editing it from the ACP or risk breaking existing URLS but that's a less important point.

I would think combined: /topic/123-hello-world/page-2/?sort=desc will provide a good boost.

We'd trial it here first during the 3.4 development cycle to see how it fared.

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#115 Lewis P

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:19 AM

I'm fairly sure I can add in /page-2/ also as we have since removed user level changing of posts per topic. We'd need to warn admins to stop editing it from the ACP or risk breaking existing URLS but that's a less important point.


Hmm... maybe change it to one of the ipsPowerSettings, remove it from the ACP overall?

#116 Matt

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:33 AM

Hmm... maybe change it to one of the ipsPowerSettings, remove it from the ACP overall?


I would move it to a power setting, yes. I don't really think it needs to be in the ACP as it's too tempting to fiddle with it.

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#117 Steven UK

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:38 AM

I'm just spinning my wheels here, but if we assume tags are indexed better because they have more back links because for each tag there is (tag x ( topics x pages) ), would it help to have a "Back to first page" link on all subsequent pages somewhere? This might increase the back links to the root page where the most keywords are.


Matt, the tags do not index higher because of backlinks, please don't think that is true by comments written on this thread. It is not true. We have threads with 10+ pages, that have tags, and the tags do not rank higher than the threads, which they would using this analogy. The results are sporadic.

Actually the forum is monitored by googlers and I can assure you that if your issue is interesting, it will get to Google and they will help you out. I'm talking from personal experience. Just for the sake of proving me wrong, why not try it for yourself?

I have used the forum too, and in my personal experience, the 'googlers' will hear nothing said against Google. Google is always right, and as a marketer, most of what I have read on there is not experienced-based, but theory, although I don't discount you may have had help there.


the structure of WP is way different than IPB. You can't make this argument. The precedence of results in google is determined by the rank of that page which is roughly determined by how many back links the page has. There are no secretes or hidden formulas or conspiracy. It is as simple as that.

No always true, there are a variety of reasons why a page will rank higher than another, domain authority being a key factor, probably the largest. The latest Penguin update has now rendered the backlink situation a definite grey area, hence the reason SEO companies are dropping like flies.


I'm not saying IPB has no SEO issue.

There is definitely an issue, a big one, pages are competing with each other, and not just with other threads, but with a variety of different variable pages, search pages, even blank user pages, and much, much more (sometimes 10+ Google pages worth, on a single thread keyword that Google then place into the supplemental results), that I have never seen happen on other software, hence the reason for starting this thread.

If most IPB forum owners (and I suspect most are in this category, due to lack of coming forward with similar threads) do not monitor their rankings, and systematically check positioning, or rely on SERP position for their business, and just use the forum as an add-on to their core website, then fine, but owners that do use their forum for SEO purposes, will notice these issues very quickly.


Just to add. It is great that the staff at IPB are listening, and investigating.

#118 Ryan H.

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:24 AM

I'm just spinning my wheels here, but if we assume tags are indexed better because they have more back links because for each tag there is (tag x ( topics x pages) ), would it help to have a "Back to first page" link on all subsequent pages somewhere? This might increase the back links to the root page where the most keywords are.

Aren't there already two such links on each page, just from pagination? I don't think another would be beneficial.

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#119 Enkidu

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:39 AM

I have used the forum too, and in my personal experience, the 'googlers' will hear nothing said against Google. Google is always right, and as a marketer, most of what I have read on there is not experienced-based, but theory, although I don't discount you may have had help there.


can you show me an example where you have asked for help and it didn't turn as you would expect?

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#120 Steven UK

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:42 AM

I just wanted to highlight the problem as I see it, because this thread is now getting side-tracked and confused. So here goes with my example/analogy:

Ok, this is what has been happening so far on my forum, in say 40% of the threads being started:

1) Thread is started, let's say for example: "Why do cars struggle to fly to the moon".
2) The thread gets indexed immediately (mine do).
3) Thread 99.999% of the time will immediately go to page one of Google.

Other software we use does this too, due to domain age, authority of domain, etc.

Ok, great you think, and unless Google dance comes into the equation, the threads pretty much stay there, give or take a position, or two.

What happens next with IPB software is this (which does not happen with other software we have used at any time over the last 10-15 years being online):

1) When checking the thread, say a week later, even if it has not got tags, will have moved from page one, only to be replaced with a thread that has the same title, but with a [string] attached, and this is then usually found (pushed down) to page 2, with the original thread (without the string) nowhere to be seen.

2) The thread can also be replaced, not with a string, but with some random search query, instead of the original thread, and the reason for this, is that the IPB software is giving Google so much information, and loose ends, that it is literally like a lottery on which page they choose to rank.

The search engines just don't know how to deal with the software, or have any idea how to rank it (again, this is unique to IPB, through experience).

I have just done a search for a keyword on our forum, and Google found it, but guess how many other references were indexed for the same keyword, just from our forum, and just for this keyword (thread)

So how many indexed reference did Google index about this one thread?

530 results

Forgetting the SEO problem for a second, the spam implications of this could be huge, in the eyes of all search engines, and I think the reason is that search engines are struggling to filter the software, and find any kind of hierarchy, or the right relationship between the content.
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