SEO for vBulletin and how to stop a forum ruining your website

  • 0
  • June 22, 2007

Adding a forum to your website can seem like a great way to increase the amount of natural content and build traffic to your site. However the nature of a forum means they are full of duplicate content, noisy low value pages and attract very few external links.

Link equity has become a major factor over the last 12 months, if you have too many pages on your site then your link equity will be spread too thinly and your site will not reach its full potential in Google.

Aaron Wall sums this up nicely:

If you are wasting link equity getting low value noisy pages indexed then your high value pages will not rank as well as they could because you wasted link equity getting low value pages indexed. In some cases getting many noisy navigational pages indexed could put your site on a reduced crawling status (shallow crawl or less frequent crawl) that may preclude some of your higher value long tail brand specific pages from getting indexed.

Aside from building some natural links the best way to stop a forum using up too much of your valuable link equity is to stop the low value, noisy pages being indexed. My preferred method is to use the following robots.txt file for vBulletin:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /forums/archive/

Disallow: /forums/admincp/

Disallow: /forums/attachments/

Disallow: /forums/calendar.php

Disallow: /forums/clientscript/

Disallow: /forums/cpstyles/

Disallow: /forums/customavatars/

Disallow: /forums/customprofilepics/

Disallow: /forums/faq.php

Disallow: /forums/images/

Disallow: /forums/install/

Disallow: /forums/includes/

Disallow: /forums/login.php

Disallow: /forums/misc.php

Disallow: /forums/member.php

Disallow: /forums/modcp/

Disallow: /forums/memberlist.php

Disallow: /forums/newreply.php

Disallow: /forums/newthread.php

Disallow: /forums/private.php

Disallow: /forums/register.php

Disallow: /forums/sendmessage.php

Disallow: /forums/signaturepics/

Disallow: /forums/sendpm.php

Disallow: /forums/search.php

To remove any noisy pages already indexed you would need to block them using robots.txt and then visit Google Webmaster Central and use the “Url Removals” tool.

Most forum packages will have unique titles and meta description tags on all the pages – if yours doesn’t then you will need to figure out how to add these. The other pitfall to watch out for is your forum software appending session id’s to the url’s – this will harm your site in the search engines.

It is hard to cover all aspects of forum SEO in a blog post so if you have any questions please ask in the comments.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • John King

    Generally I wouldn’t add in a forum unless it would end up benefiting users and gain its own userbase. If I had a forum with a userbase on one of my sites I’d definitely want it to get indexed and bring in more users. The important decision is whether or not to create a forum; will it really benefit your users, and gain a userbase so you don’t always need to contribute?

  • s

    What would you do if you ran a subscription based website. Would you allow the forum to get indexed to help drive traffic and convert traffic into subscriptions?

  • jimmy

    i have a forum site and on i have vbseo mod my question is its allows a member to login from mozilla but not from internet explorer, is vbseo creating an issue of sessions in internet explorer which is making poeple show they are loggin in but redirect them to the same main page without showing them they are logged.

  • vBulletin SEO Services

    I agree, Google loves to waste loads of time simply crawling the calendar over and over agian clean back to 1983 I think i found one site that was indexed that far back for nothing but calendar pages. He barely had any other sites in the index, once the calendar was blocked everything started to return to normal

  • Nonoabarl

    Hi, everybody!

    I think, that this is a great forum. Very intresting and useful.
    But I can’t find the search function, cause I want faster find the topics that could be intresting for me to express my opinion…
    Please help me with search function on this forum!

  • HSCharles

    I have a flash website
    i’m looking for the script who makes google adsense with flash.
    where can i get it?

  • TonyB

    Hi Everyone,
    I have a carpet cleaning business in Houston,TX that was doing pretty good until the economy went bad, and with it my clientele. I have a website for the business but I dont
    know what I have to do the get it to show up in a search. Right now it’s somewhere in the yahoo/google netherworld (LOL).

    Is there someone on here that can give me some insight or know of anyone that coud give me insight on how I can get my local website on the front
    page of a Yahoo or Google search to increase my business without it costing me 5 or 10k $$$? If so please share with me.

    I thank you and my hungry over-eating children thank you.


  • Monzee12

    good morning,

    can someone please tell me where I can find mail order alprazolam online without seeing a doctor?

  • beautygaru

    Hello! My name is Nina.
    I’m very sorry for disturbing you. I’d never join your discussion with my silly question, if it was not so serious for me. But you have really nice community here, good and friendly forum, and I’ll really be thankful for any your advices.
    The problem is what my boyfriend, Mike, ignores me. We live together for couple years and planning to marry. Now he works so hard as a lead manager, company is grown, and last monthes he comes home from his office late evening, kisses me once and very fast, and then goes to his notebook, papers, documents and seats with it until early morning. But I’m only 29, I’m not old yet, people tell me i am attractive, and surely I need some attenion from my husband. I even never dreams about expensive restaurants, luxury life and holidays at tropic islands and all around the world, I just need regular private relationship with him. When I start to kiss him, Mike only asks me not to bother him and returns to his home work.
    Please tell how do I need to act in such situation? I’m young pretty girl and I need his care! Am I doing something wrong? Anybody here had similar problems in past? Please, share your experience with me.

  • FrankFN

    I heard from several sources that people didnt recieve the product they bought from amazon
    is this true?

  • moseamegree

    Hi guys.
    My PC worked not correctly, too much errors. Please, help me to fix buggs on my PC.
    My operation system is Windows XP.

  • joshdream

    thanks for the excellent tip! I would also making sure all the links that people post are no follows as well.

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