Best practice in terms of SEO - Discussion URLs

My questions relate to identifying best practices in terms of SEO when managing and using discussion URLs.

1) When moving a discussion to another category, the “Leave a redirect link” is being offered? What should I consider in terms of SEO?


2) It’s said “Category pages only use the “slug”, so choose their names carefully and avoid changing them.” What, if changing the displayed name is required?

 

3) We all know that a particular discussion can be accessed using various URLs

forum.webpage.com/discussion/486

forum.webpage.com/discussion/486/title-of-discussion

Which one is recommended to use when linking to a discussion within the forum or from an external page?

 

4) When a discussion title is being changed, the displayed URL changes accordingly

../discussion/78/old-name

../discussion/78/new-name

Are there any implication in terms of SEO?

 

5) How can I access this alternative URL-structure? I could not generate a working URL.

…./category-name/this-is-the-discussion-title

 

6) When using “#latest”, “/p1” or “/p2” , is there anything to consider? Why is “/p1?new=1” indicating? Thanks!

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Comments

  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator

    I guess most users here are merely forum owners/users and not SEO professionals so you might get better answers elsewhere. But that doesn't stop me from telling you my opinion, which isn't supported by any fact at all 😎


    1. A broken link is bad so having something which rediricts to the content your user wanted to see is probably better. SEO wise. As a user I hate such snippets and consider them useless. In most cases it is really easy to find moved content and because this normally happens not too often, I would welcome if my forum doesn't use that.
    2. The url is important. Something like "example.com/categories/holy-moly" is bad and if you decide you have a better name for your category, use it! I would consider adding a line to the htaccess file for the holy-moly page with http code 301, moved permanently
    3. What do you expect gets more clicks: example.com/discussion/123 or example.com/discussion/123/cutest-cat-videos-ever? You should always include the discussion title.
    4. Not really try it yourself: https://open.vanillaforums.com/discussion/37192/holy-moly As you can see, the discussion title can be changed and the correct discussion is still shown. Normally forum users do not choose titles which are great for SEO. Therefore I wouldn't care about that too much.
    5. How should this word? You can have multiple discussions with the same title. There must be either a counter added to the name for duplicate names or the discussion id. If your next question is if you can transform /123/title to title-123, that can also not be done. I bet google simply ignores those integer-only parts of the slug for the ranking of the rest of the parts.
    6. I do not understand that, but I guess /page1 would be better than /p1. But if your discussion is named "example.com/discussion/123/hi-there", it doesn't make any difference if there is a p1 or a page1. If the discussion title is meanungful like "repair-instructions-for-yamaha-tdm850-needed", it will also do no harm if the next page is given as "p2". Maybe it is even better to have "p1" than "page1"? Otherwise this "page" could become a false positive in search results. But I really do not know...


    chrlew
  • Thank you, @R_J, I appreciate it much! Let me please reply:

    1) The thing is, every URL that reads correctly until the unique identifier (number of discussion) will direct to the respective discussion:

    open.vanillaforums.com/discussion/37192/best-practice-in-terms-of-seo-discussion-urls/

    open.vanillaforums.com/discussion/37192/holy-moly-nonsense

    So why would a redirection link (after moving to another category) be needed anyhow?

    2) Good advise! Is this also an option for Vanilla Cloud customers?

    3) Makes sense.

    4) This answers my question in terms of accessibility of the content, right? I frequently do change discussion titles in order to make them understandable for the remaining audience. So I wanted to get a better feel if this does any harm or good with respect to SEO.

    5) The said URL structure was discussed here https://blog.vanillaforums.com/product/6-seo-tips-to-improve-your-forum-seo), see point 3. I just wanted to replicate this first.

    6) Okay!

    Many thanks.

  • Looks like my post disappeared!

  • edited April 3

    Let me discuss here rather than attempt to answer your questions ... but in the end I hope you glean something useful.

    The SEO mythical thing is strange to me. What I find useful is the reality that these forum posts are very findable. Maybe one should ask those pesky search engine crawlers what they prefer for breakfast ....

    Here is a good read

    The above article makes this claim...

    Optimal Format: example.com/category-keyword/subcategory-keyword/primary-keyword.html

    And I agree not because I know anything useful, but because I like to read the url before I click. I like to learn a few things from the url. I often do not bookmark things, but like to memorize things. And I like to be able to get more from where an article came by deleting the discussion slug and reversing to the category slug which is found in the url.

    So, in my backward mind's eye, this url should lead me to all the goods: example.com/category-keyword/


    Let's play with this possible theoretical article name with id=2020. The name itself begins and ends with pertinent numbers.

    "1983 Saw the Last of the Chronicles Especially in Day 6" (i.e, in 1983 the Chronicles ended on day six).

    Which becomes: 1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6

    So where do I put my purely functional signature id (to mitigate confusion), at the beginning or end, almost looking like a folder or category or dashed prefix/suffix?

    And what is the safest place to put the ID, in case when I share a link the ID does not get chopped off. And also if the URL is too long I could visually send a short one which includes the important ID?

    You talk about best practices, let's see what some big names are practicing.

    1. vanillaforums.example.com/discussion/2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    2. question2answer.example.com/2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    3. nodebb.example.com/topic/2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    4. old-modx-forum.example.com/thread/2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    5. flarum.example.com/d/2020-1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    6. dailymail.example.com/news/article-2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6
    7. medium.example.com/s/story/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6-2020
    8. discourse.example.com/t/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6/2020
    9. bbc.example.com/news/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6-2020

    Most of these have some kind of very safe "needed" constraint in the url; nice for default, but some users might not care to see such in their own specialized forum: /discussion/ or /d/ or /t/ or /topic/ or /thread/

    Notice how the single letter approach is the least intrusive?


    In my very base opinion, I'd go with this #6 (maybe trim the "article-" bit)

    me.example.com/news/2020/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6 

    and #8 for being ultra clean, even though the id is perilously at the end, easily and mistakenly truncated.

    me.example.com/news/1983-saw-the-last-of-the-chronicles-especially-in-day-6/2020


    Good reasons for #6

    1. I am can make it short: me.example.com/news/2020/
    2. I can text it to others and reword the url on the fly (more conveniently) : me.example.com/news/2020/end-of-chronicles
    3. And 2020 is never mistaken to be part of my article's title.
    4. And /news/ is actually now more useful and functional and shorter than when in conjunction or replaced by otherwise annoying non-user-dictated things like /discussion/ or /topic/ or /thread/ or /t/ or /d/ etc

    And this comes full circle to answer your question about this url: example.com/category-name/this-is-the-discussion-title

    me.example.com/category-name also points to the said category

    Yes it is possible to achieve the above in VF, and this is precisely what I do for my all my own Forums. And that's the beauty of Vanilla Theme Hook or Plugin and Routes. All this without even touching my .htaccess file - which means upgrading and relocation is painless.

    But that tutorial is for another coming post.


    Cheers!

    chrlew
  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator
    1. You are right. The discussion link doesn't show the category and therefore there will not be any 404 error thrown.
    2. Not sure. You can set "Routes" in the backend of Vanilla OS and I bet that is also available when you are in a paid plan.
    3. ( I have to leave that here because otherwise I cannot get a 4.)
    4. Improving content shouldn't harm SEO. But I certainly don't know that.
    5. Interesting. The id must be in there, otherwise it couldn't work.


    @donshakespeare intersting collection!

    I expect search engines to be quite good in "reading" urls. But in 2020-1983-title it is nearly impossible to match the important "1983". Therefore I would prefer /2020/1983-title

    I'm a little bit unsure if I think that it's a benefit to have the word "discussion" in the url or if I would prefer to have a shorter "d". Just because it has some more characters doesn't make the url hard to remember, I'd even say it makes it more easy. I guess I would like to be able to link to example.com/d/123 and also to example.com/discussion/123/philosophers-corner

    From SEO point of view, I think having a descriptive URL is best. If you have "/discussion/123/lots-of-cute-cat-videos" the word "discussion" isn't correct anyway... 😺


    chrlew
  • Yeah. I found that the /discussion/ ... /d/ ... /t/ thing was put in place primarily to serve as a safe primary url rewrite anchor.

    In say, .htaccess, It becomes less burdensome to target and rewrite urls for all articles. Just target the url that ^discussion/ or ^d/.

    Depending on the age of the software, I am guessing some assumed you used your forum software strictly for what forum software was used for.... and suggested for you certain full words in the url: /discussion/ or /thread/ or /topic/ etc

    Strange cases

    1. Say one's company url, for very good unchangeable preexisting reasons, is:

    discussions.example.com

    Then this becomes rather mentally cumbersome:

    discussions.example.com/discussion/2020/the-life-of-cosine


    2. If, as I do, one was using forum software as a clean blog, then the presence of anything user-unintentional in the url can become a major grievance, whether /t/ or /d/ or /!/ or /discussion/


    3. If one has turned one's forum into a strict QandA board, by using that wonderful Vanilla Forum plugin of same name, then there is no question that the word /discussion/ is misplaced in the url. More complicated it might even be is when the software is in a folder/subdomain named "questions". This becomes inconvenient:

    example.com/questions/discussion/2020/the-life-of-cosine


    After all said and done though, we still need some anchor to hold on to during the url rewrite, that is safe and specific to only articles, and can work in all public installations.

    chrlew
  • Thanks for your thoughts, @donshakespeare and @R_J , want to go through them in more detail on the weekend!

  • Thanks again, @R_J, @donshakespeare . Well, here' s my take from what you said.


    |  ToDo at CC                                               |  To be verified (facts)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         |  To be verified (concluded  best practices)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              |  |  |

    |-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|---|---|

    |                                                      |  0.    Curation and general forum  maintenance is key in terms of SEO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               |    Given the facts stated  left for our particular Vanilla cloud hosted forum, from a SEO perspective:    I.          Renaming discussion titles  in a meaningful way won’t hurt, there is no need to leave a redirect link,  best if you rename quickly and do so for good  II.         Moving discussions to other  categories won’t hurt.  III.        There is no need to define  custom routes  or apply the route “Moved Permanently” which sends a 301 header with the request  IV.        When placing a web link  to a specific discussion, try using a “long URL” including the discussion  title, when placing a link within a newsletter, the short version is sufficient  (some advanced users might prefer the long version though)  |  |  |

    |                                                      |    1.    In our case, single  threads are to be addressed as such    community.conradconnect.de/discussion/535/how-to-trigger-via-ifttt    ‘535’  = discussion ID  ‘/how-to-trigger-via-ifttt’  = discussion slug          2.    In our case, no alternative URL taxonomy can be accessed or activated  as stated below (unclear, see also No. 3 here)    /category-name/this-is-the-discussion-title                                                                                                |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |  |  |

    |                                                      |    3.    Since each discussion is  being addressed by its discussion ID (in the below examples ‘535’), any URL  that is correct up to this point will open up the right page    community.conradconnect.de/discussion/535/how-to-trigger-conrad-connect-projects-via-ifttt    community.conradconnect.de/discussion/535/after-applying-new-discussion-title    community.conradconnect.de/discussion/535/blablabla    community.conradconnect.de/discussion/535/    All URLs leading to the same  destinations are treated as canonical links  (thus no negative effects in terms of duplicate content)    |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |  |  |

    |  Implement if beneficial à                                       |  4.    Check whether Opt-in  features “Sitemaps & robots.txt” (available for cloud users) are relevant  and easy to implement                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |  |  |

    |                                                      |  5.    Category pages only use  the “slug” (URL-encoded name) in  their URLs, so choose their names carefully and avoid changing them. You can  edit displayed title and slug  independently.    community.conradconnect.de/categories/projekte-mit-conrad-connect    Question: What if as slug needs to changed? Is a redirect meaningful?  How to set it up?                                                                                                                              |  V.         Avoid changing the slug,  thus put careful thoughts into category structure                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   |  |  |

    |                                                      |  6.    Members can apply tags  to their discussions (admin can edit/remove them). This might marginally  benefit in terms of SEO.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 |  VI.        Not for SEO, rather for  enhanced user experience we should use this in order to tag brand names (Hue,  Somfy, etc.), eliminate random tags, but focus on brands                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         |  |  |

    |                                                      |  7.    Avoid high load times                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    |  VII.       Be careful when uploading  imagery, keep filesizes small                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              |  |  |

    |  Confirm within Google  Webmaster Tools, if subdomain is being identified as part of the main site.  |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |  |  |

    |                                                      |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     |  |  |

    R_J
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