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How to make vanilla more SEO friendly and get more indexed pages

i know there are some other posts about seo but i got the problem that the forum doesn't get indexed very well. From 1500 discussions i get 100 pages indexed in google. that is nothing. im even using the sitemap plugin that i found here on the forum (i checked the sitemap and it is valid, includes all my discussions and was correctly submitted to google sitemaps.) i know failry well about SEO as I have worked in this field for a company for several years already. Somebody said in another post that meta tags don't matter anymore and google doesn't use them...That is NOT true. maybe the keywords are not so important anymore BUT the descriptions definitely. If all pages on a website would have the same description google would think those pages are the same (or very similar) and it would only index one or a few of them. To conteract this a plugin that does the following could make a big difference: The plugin should take the fires 2 or 3 lines of text form the first post in a discussion and enter it as the description Meta tag. From my experience Im very sure this would help immensely. Google LOVES unique descriptions. It is very important to have. Right now, every single discussion that is indexed in google shows the same text as description in the search results which is: "Vanilla 1.0.3 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support. Please sign in or apply for membership to post in this forum ..." Believe me when I say that this is NOT good for search engine results. Also, the same person that said that the meta tags are unimportant went on to say that the url names are also not important and that google indexes dynamic urls. url names are very important (and im using the friendly url extension). it can make a big difference in search results. and yes, google does index dynamic urls BUT HTML is still king. So we have to do everything to make google better index dynamic pages. The proposed plugin above would definitely make a difference.


  • I actually starting porting one from a WP plugin. I have one now that allows you to enter a bunch of words that will be added to the meta section on each page. The next step will be to take x number of characters from the first discussion item. I stopped to work on something else when I read some other posts and articles.

    If you really think this will be useful, I will continue.
  • antonio23, I like your thinking and I agree. Look forward to the extension jimw ;)
  • @ jimw: im glad to hear that somebody actually started on something like that already. If you can finish this plugin you would probably create one of the most important plugins for everybody who cares about being seen on google, yahoo and others. I don't know about the keywords (they would only make sense when entered manually for each discussion which for me, having 1500 already i would never do; and also don't forget that a generic keyword list, the same as a generic description would do more harm than good, so better leave a function like this out), but as i said before having automatically add a certain amount of characters from the first post as the description tag will definitely make a big difference in search engines because every discussion would have a unique description. So I hope that you can finish this plugin. it will be of a big use for SEO. Together with the friendly urls plugin one would have an ok package to make ones forum shown on search engines.
  • i'm about 2 seconds from completing my extension that's in vanilla for this topic...
  • Ok... two seconds was up 31 minutes ago... :)
  • sounds great. sems like some of you had this in the works for some time. cant wait to finally have some more seo goodness on my faborite forum.
  • Ok, it's uploaded, and although it's a bit dodgy with me query down the bottom, it's going to work.

    To use it go to the template section down the bottom and user this format to add a MetaTag
    $MetaTags->AddData($Name, $Content);
  • This is supposed to get the content of the first comment and put it into the description, correct? I only get the default description and default keywords.
  • weird... it should work
  • ok. tried out the extensionand experienced some really weird behavior: After installing the extension I now have a keywords and description meta tag on all discussion pages BUT: the keyword tag always shows the following keywords on every page: contest, Christian, free, contests, winners I have no idea where these are coming from. Like I said before it would be better to not have keywords at all than having the same ones on every page or having wrong ones. The second problem is that the description shows the first 150 characters how it should do BUT it shows the first 150 characters of the wrong post. So for example lets say i have 15 discussions in my forum, then discussion 1 would have the description from discussion 5 etc. sp i guess the plugin needs some more work. it looks promising though. @vincent: how did you plan on implementing the keywords. how will they be generated?
  • You could just use the Tags from the tags extension if installed, or do the 5 most commonly occurring words? :)

    Keeping an eye on this one, looks very proimising :)
  • I think there's a strong case for something like this being in the core of vanilla. A lot of work went into the accessibility of vanilla and i see this as a development of that. Admittedly that's very much up to Mark but I thought i'd throw my thoughts into the arena anyway.
  • I'd support the category roles and finer grained control in general going into core, or at least a Lussumo supported extension that includes it all in one complete package.
  • i wouldnt use the tags for the keywords as not everybody is using the tags extension. getting the 5-10 most used words would be a possibility but this might make vanilla slower. i mean the 5 most used keywords could change everytime somebody leaves a new post on a discussion. another simple idea would be to use the keywords from the title of the discussion. this might create some very short keyword lists but it would be ok and fitting. add a possibility for excluding some keywords (like of, on, the, etc.) and it would be cool. kind of like in the weighted words extension. but again. get the description working first, thats much, much more important for ranking well. the rest can follow.
  • I agree about not everyone having tags, but it should simply be an IF check, since if they are using it, they're likely to be better than anything else we could come up with automatically no?

    I like the fall back idea of just using words from the topic/subject/title though.
  • Speaking about tags, installing this extension has totally corrupt my conf/setting.php file. And after I restored it, I discovered all of my discussion tags (not meta tags, discussion tags from the discussion tags extension) had been wiped from the database.

    I've got this error:
    Notice: Only variables should be assigned by reference in ../extensions/MetaTags/default.php on line 81 Notice: Only variables should be assigned by reference in ../extensions/MetaTags/default.php on line 82
  • Can someone take down the extension until it's less destructive?
  • @ stash: ok. agreed. for people using the tags plugin, it would probably be the best way to use these as the keywords tag. for others probably the words in the discussion title.
  • Yeah, I reckon so. This could be great :)
  • ok guys, this is in need of a control panel because the default tags are inside the default.php file, so if you want to change them, go right ahead.

    The query at the bottom shouldnt corrupt any data because it's only a SELECT query and there's no alternation to either the database or any kind of delegate. What it does is collect up an array of meta tag information into an array and then spits it out into the $Strings array that can be found in the header.php template file. It doesnt even touch any config settings so i cant see anything wrong with that.

    I've uploaded a version with a quick query to get the correct start of a discussion until i can get the time to figure out how to fix this 'mess' that's wrong with it. That error should be gone also.
This discussion has been closed.