- In this forum, customers submit their forum URL for review or critique. We provide constructive criticism only, and ask that anyone submitting feedback follow this standard.
- Our goal is not to simply tell you what you are doing wrong, but instead what you can possibly improve with tips on how.
- Feedback will be submitted by both staff and customers. We'll focus on vBSEO, but will also provide general tips on other aspects of forum marketing, management, etc.
- Here are some common suggestions that you should review prior to submitting your site for critique. Please be sure to review this section before submitting your critique request.
- When you do submit your request, please let us know that you reviewed the following suggestions, as well as any specific areas you want us to evaluate.
Are you running the latest release of vBSEO?
Check our announcements forum to make sure you have the latest version installed. Each new version includes new improvements that you should take advantage of.
If your license is expired, you will need to renew before you can upgrade.
Did you replace showpost links with Permalinks?
Showpost pages are extra content. However, that same content is found within your thread pages already.
Since you have the content covered in the thread pages, you can improve the efficiency of search engine crawling by simply blocking them.
One way to do that is to actually replace the showpost links directly with Permalinks.
To do so, you login to your vBSEO Control Panel (vbseocp.php) and scroll to the "Forum Permalinks" section.
Look for and enable the following option:
Replace post number link with Permalink
Will replace individual showpost links with the "Permalink" link. Note: Posts will no longer be accessible individually.
Are you using our Archive Footer Links? How many are there?
There is an archive footer link feature within the vBSEO Control Panel (vbseocp.php):
These links can be helpful to direct link value to your inner content. However, if *too many* links are created on each page, it will lose its effectiveness.Footer Archive Links
Footer Archive Links Options:
Add Links to the Archive Main Pages
Select this option to add links to the main archive sitemap pages at the footer of your forum pages.
Add Links to ALL Archive Pages
Select this option to add links to the main archive sitemap pages AND multiple (deep) archive pages at the footer of your forum pages.
Do not add Links to Archive Pages
Select this option to keep the default settings.
NOTE: Enter in your footer template to specify a location for the archive links, otherwise, these will be added at the very bottom of the output.
If you think you have too many links, you probably do. In that case, don't use this feature.
Did you try out our Relevant Replacements?
Relevant Replacements are a cool vBSEO feature allowing you to add content that helps improve your page by page keyword relevancy. Find our more about how to set it up here:
[How to] Setup Relevant Replacements with vBSEO
Did you try out Custom Rewrite Rules?
Custom Rewrite Rules allow you to convert the URLs of other common vBulletin related applications to static (i.e. .html) formats.
For some common rewrite rules, check our CRR forum.
Have you checked for possible vBSEO performance optimizations?
Here's a thread with common tips you can do to boost the performance of your forum:
vBSEO Optimization Tips
Is your vBSEO Sitemap Installed and Working?
The sitemap basically alerts Google, Yahoo, and MSN of *every page* that exists on your forum, helping them to crawl these pages faster.
The vBSEO sitemap is a *separate* free application that works with or without vBSEO installed. Our vBSEO Sitemap is available in our downloads section and also here.
Use it. But, make sure it's working correctly:
Verifying your vBSEO Google/Yahoo Sitemap Generator is Installed Correctly
Have you considered our vBSEO Conditional Signatures plugin?
Our conditional signatures plugin is a *separate* free application that allows you to apply rules about when your member's signatures are displayed.
Removing or adding rel=nofollow to links in the signature can help conserve link value on your pages, and boost your overall SEO. You can find it in our downloads section and also here.
Are you using a robots.txt file?
Robots.txt files are used to give directions about which areas of your website the search engines can visit and which they cannot.
With vBSEO, this is largely unnecessary, unless you have some custom tweaking that you want to do with your site.
One *very important thing* to know is that robots.txt files can sometimes cause problems. Do two things for your safety:
- Check your Google Webmaster Tools to make sure your not getting any errors related to your robots.txt
- Validate your robots.txt file with a 3rd party validator.
- If your not getting crawled, try removing the robots.txt file temporarily to see if that helps. Sometimes strange conflicts occur. This method will help you find out if you have any.
Find out more about Web Robots or the Robots Exclusion Standard.
Do you have a customized template?
If you have a default vBulletin template, you may not do as well with keeping your Web visitors, or converting them to active members.
This is referred to as stickiness, and you will see it increased with a nicely designed or customized template. Your site will have greater credibility with a custom template which also encourages your visitors to link back to your forum.
If you want a nice template you can find many online, or you can
choose the vBSEO style.
Many online provides offer either custom designs that you can further tweak, as well as fully customized original designs at a greater cost.
Is your template graphic heavy? Have you considered a more lightweight template?
If you do customize your template, make sure that it is lightweight.
You do not want a template that is very heavy in graphics, heavy in HTML tables, or generally includes a lot of confusing spaghetti code.
Choose a clean design. Many are available. One example is the vBSEO Style.
Do you have a professional logo?
Your logo or graphical heading of your site typically the first place that a web visitor looks.
That's where they make their first impression, and can be a definite factor in whether or not they stay at your site, or move onwards.
Make a professional logo that helps with stickiness. Build your site's at-a-glance-credibility.
If you are not a designer, you probably want to hire one to create your logo. Many non-designers are able to come up with logos "they like", but may not be all that appealing to your visitors. A designer can create something for you that almost everyone will like.
Don't skimp on this area. A great logo can be purchased for $100-$300 depending on your budget. And even some pretty cool logos can be found in the $50 range if your Google searching skills are pretty good.
Avoid using a simple photo you have with text over top. If you're using MS Paint, you're not a designer. Even if you're using Photoshop, if you didn't study design, you're still probably not a designer. Hire one!
Does your homepage have valuable content or just maintenance messages?
A lot of forums add a homepage using software such as vBAdvanced.
If you create a homepage using vBA or other software, make sure that you include valuable content on it. If it's just a bunch of maintenance messages like "site down on Sunday for 2 hours", then it's low valuable content and you should remove it.
If it's original articles you've created, or links directly to your highest value content, then you can make a case for keeping it.
If you plan to add the content *later*, then don't add the homepage until *later* when you have the content ready. Until you do, keep the forum homepage as your site homepage.
Are you avoiding using Flash for your homepage? If you didn't, did you make sure there are text links into your site?
Flash looks cool. If you have it, then you'll agree with that statement. But search engine bots don't. Consider them as blind to the graphical view of your site.
The current generation of search engines is not going to find your site links within your Flash animations.
If you absolutely *must* use Flash, then make sure you also include text links to your content on the page. It may be a challenge to do that without messing up your design, but this is one big area in which you need to make the sacrifice.
Forum Template Edits / Navigation
Did you remove "Powered by vBulletin" yet?
We are not talking about the vBulletin copyright notice at the bottom of your forum. You *must* keep this in place unless you purchase the removal option.
We are talking to the "Powered by vBulletin" bit in the title of your pages. This is NOT helpful to SEO. You *must* get rid of it. Here's how:
[HOW-TO] Remove "Powered by vBulletin" from Your Page Titles
Did you validate your forum HTML to check for errors?
Validating your HTML will help you identify problems with your site's HTML code that could impact how search engine's evaluate your site.
There is some debate as to how important perfect HTML code really is to a search engine bot, but there is no debate that HTML code with errors can *confuse* a search engine bot.
Maybe it does not discover all of your links on each page, misses a part of the navigation, doesn't know which text is important enough to use for a snippet, etc.
Run a quick validation to identify any significant problems and try to get them fixed to avoid problems.
The W3C Markup Validation Service
Did you consider converting your welcome messages to images?
This one is a bit confusing for some. Why would you want to convert a welcome message to an image?
The reason is that welcome messages show up on every page of your forum.
When they show up on every page for *guests*, then they also show up on every page for *search engine bots*.
The result is that search engines see this text and many be confused about the content of the page. Is every page really about your welcome message, or should it be about the main topic of the page?
The answer is that it should be about the main content.
Since search engines cannot see image content, this will hide the text from the search engines, but will still allow it to be seen by human guests.
[HOW-TO] Make your Welcome Headers an image!
Did you remove unnecessary widgets from your homepage?
Sometimes we're all guilty of adding stuff like calendars or weather widgets to our homepage to fill up space.
Good designers know that sometimes the best space is white space.
But for search engines, they want high value content. If your widget doesn't add high value content, the it should provide some great feature to your users as a compromise.
Every computer user has a calender available on their system, so don't feel the need to add one on your homepage! They don't need it, and it's not going to help with SEO.
They have calenders. Most of them do not care "Who's Online". And if they don't live where you do, they probably don't care what your local weather is (unless you're a destination specific travel site).
Get rid of unnecessary widgets on your homepage and throughout your site, at least for guests/search engines.
Did you block or restrict access to forums with low value content?
There are two easy ways to block your content. You can use robots.txt or you can make the sub-forums available only to registered members.
Not all content is created equal. Stuff that is not specific to your forum theme, like introductions, jokes, or off-topic sub-forums, can be considered for blocking.
The result is:
- Search engines can focus on the high value content when crawling, making the process more efficient.
- Search engines find only your high value content, so their *view* of your site is very tightly focused on your theme, and not watered down by perhaps friendly and fun content, but not highly valuable content to information seekers.
Did you block member profile pages?
Same idea as the above. Some may consider member profile pages low value. In that case, you can block them. Blocking them can have the same advantages as blocking low value forums.
However, here's some info on why you might consider keeping them for vanity search traffic.
Is it easy to find your "Forum" link and navigation to other important areas on your site?
A lot of forum homepages are customized with applications like vBAdvanced as discussed above. If your homepage is NOT just your forum display page, then at least make sure the link to the actual forum is clearly visible.
Here is a blog post designed to hammer home this idea:
In an *Ocean of Links" - Make Sure Visitors Can *Find* Your Forum - vBulletin SEO Forums
Did you remove your "forum title" from the page title of sub-forum and thread display pages?
Your page title plays an important role in how search engines evaluate the page for ranking.
Each page on your forum is different, so why describe the title in such a limited way using the forum title over and over and over again? It's not an accurate description and it won't help you with SEO.
Keep the title of each page focused on the actual page contents. Here's how you can fix it:
Your Site Review - Stuff to Do First
[HOW-TO] Remove the Forum name in Post Titles
Do you work hard to identify the best keywords for your forum titles and description?
Do not just speed write your forum title and descriptions. Chances are you won't do a great job the first time through. You might also end up with stuff like:
Title: Widget Discussion
Description: A forum for discussing widgets
That's not what you want. Here's a post to help get you zero-ed in on a better method of creating forum titles and descriptions:
Strategy for Optimizing Keywords in Your vBulletin Forum Title and Descriptions
Did you rewrite your default forum welcome message, to customize it for your forum theme and include valuable keywords?
Your default welcome message is not good enough. A simple welcome message with a link to your default vBulletin FAQ is NOT high value content.
Customize it with better search optimized keywords or get rid of it.
Help From Google
Are you running Google Webmaster Tools? Are you free from errors?
The Google Webmaster Tools are provided by the Google Team to *help* you optimize your site. Make sure you setup an account for your site:
Google Webmaster Tools - Recommended for All vBSEO Customers
Do you run Google Analytics? Are you monitoring your SEO long tail growth?
You should have a good sense of your statistics. The free Google Analytics stats tool is a great option. You can use it to measure your long tail.
Are you actively building links to your site?
Building links is a great way to improve your search ranking. Don't take that as advice to spam links, purchase thousands all at once, jump into a link farm, or use undiscriminating auto-submitters!
You might think, if not all that, then what's left. Here are some ideas courtesy of Aaron Wall:
101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website : SEO Book.com
Are you participating in the vBSEO Affiliate Program?
This is a great way to turn your vBSEO copyright notice into a revenue generator for you. More here:
vBSEO - Affiliate Program
You can also consider our vBSEO Branding Removal Option, if you do not want to participate in the affiliate program, and desire to remove the copyright notice.
If you run Google AdSense, have you researched ad optimization?
Ad sense is one of the top revenue generators for our customers. But not all ad placements are the same. You can find some great tips on AdSense optimization here at our forum, and else where on the web:
site:vbseo.com adsense optimization - Google Search
Did you create any great content or promotions and make it clearly evident on your site for any incoming visitors?
Seth Godin says "Where is the banana?". So you received Web visitors (aka hungry monkeys), now what? Make sure they can find what they are looking for to stop them from jumping to the next tree (aka competing site).
If you have great content, make sure it's prominently featured, perhaps right up in the highly visible header area.