Customizing SMF > Building Your Community and other Forum Advice

Forum SEO is a myth

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Can only agreed to whats mentioned about SEF urls. SEO, true, its more than just SEF, IMHO the biggest advantage is already done in the theme: using headers tags properly and not abusing semantic tags for layout(like lists just to place a content side by side), that is what the markup should do and will then be enough for the crawlers. I have used lots of divs in my themes, up to a point of real "divitis" lol, but it doesn't seem to affect sites using them, at least not for the SEO...they are just ignored, as they should be, a div is just a container tag. Using a actual header tag will be much more important - in which default theme and my themes does of course.The only problem is that we under-use the semantic tags..for lack of knowledge or even wondering what the tag should apply to in a forum? lol :) With CSS3 coming full on thats even more important I guess.

There's no denial that Google finds the smallest site anyway, as long as its on the net lol.Will it rank it high? Now, thats another area altogether - and Arantor pointed out the important parts-  so trying to "cheat" is almost hilarious considering how long Google have been in this game.

I think they are onto us(them).. ;D

I only use sitemaps for my sites powered by SMF (and other dynamic-systems like link directories, Content Management Systems, blogs, etc.) so I can submit a sitemap to Google Webmasters. Not that it's done me any benefit, but I just like doing it. I rely more on word of mouth and social websites like Facebook and Twitter to get my sites out there.

I see the benefit of pretty URLs not in being somehow easier to remember but that when someone posts one in IRC or whatever you'll have an idea of what it's about before you open the page. But now that people are using URL shorteners it might not be as useful...

Arantor, do you have information showing that search engines no longer care about URLs which are the content of an <a>? If so that would mean pretty URLs no longer help in the common situation when someone just posts a link and doesn't use the [url] syntax.

Well, search engines have been known to take the content of the link text itself as for ranking, but only as a minor factor, from what I understood they'd long since preferred to have a shorter phrase that's still meaningful (and, as at least one SEO 'expert' has recommended in the past, the link title should match the destination page's title or have a meaningful relationship to it)

I guess there could be a small amount of ranking based on having a bare pretty URL with keywords in it, but again that brings us back to user-driven content having meaningful titles and thus meaningful URLs, which for primarily user driven content (which was the scope of the article, i.e. for *forums*) doesn't tend to happen.

The more time you spend on optimizing <meta keywords> or worrying about how your URL is constructed and looks to the human eye is time you really should be spending on content people would care to read. That's one of the biggest bang for you buck you'll ever imagine. Content is king. Keywords and URLs are peons. Think about it this way. Let's say I have a page that had the absolute best keywords and the best URL you'll ever see (put on your imagination caps please). But the page content was this:

How is that effective or useful? Focus your content on being useful, informative, linkable. That's one of the best directions SEO has taken. Content is king. Pictures of bunnies with pancakes on their head isn't quite so much.


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