I have found this lately with my site as well which contains a forums section. My site went from 13k listed in Google to 320.
yes my forums have been hit strangely the past few months
I see this as a positive step in the right direction. Google places way too much weight on forums. The principal of a forum as providing a place to discuss and debate is indeed good but now they are so openly abused by ruthless competitors posing as posters and consumers. You do not see MSN and to a lesser extent Yahoo results littered with forum posts they have real information. That is not to say that some forums are not an excellent resource but their power and weight in Google is being seriously abused.
I see this as a poor option for Google as most of the information I seek on the web is obtained from forums.
Agree forum posts need to be greatly devalued. IMO it happens due to the high traffic and PR most forums enjoy.
For example, last week in the serps there were a few forum posts (not this forum) where the short and insignificant posts actually ranked higher than complete websites on the same subject, including my own website.
That really hurts deeply to see that happen after all the hard work, content and seo work was done but to be easily beaten out by simple posts which got indexed in G.
Google pulled around half my forums, ~800 pages, in half an hour last night. I'd say that they're just spidering everything again.
If Google decided that forums were taking over the index they would probably rank the pages lower somehow - rather than not index them or de-index them.
Something else is going on.
Yes, it seems that forum are infact being delisted. I run four forums and all have fewer pages indexed - much much fewer. But my traffic is more or less steady. I think this will make life difficult for new forums as old forums will still get traffic from referrals and word of mouth.
They want to look at the volume of directory sites listed in Google - its got to stupid levels now imo, on a popular search you can find 5 out of 20 results (25%) being directory sites.
Even though Google does not say I have as many pages indexed as before I have still seen an increase in traffic.
Try doing this with your forum and post your results...
I tried grabbing a few pages of my forums and looking them up. They were all indexed. Maybe Google is posting an incorrect amount of indexed pages - like links.
All of my forum pages are still indexed and getting traffic.
I don't believe that Google would ever pull forum pages from the SERPS or their index. At the end of the day an authority page is an authority page however it's actually built of in terms of layout.
If there's a page on a forum titled "How to shine your widget" and it has a load of inbound links to it from on-topic sites pointing to it as a useful resource for widget shining, then is that not a useful place for google to send a user looking for widget shining advice?
Google has often pointed me to valuable and useful resources which were either forums or subscribed lists of some kind or another.
I found WebmasterWorld through a Google search, and I will forever be grateful to Google for that - it was exactly what I was looking for at the time of my search.
The web is expanding in terms of media distribution - we have forums, blogs, audio podcasts etc. It's in Googles self-interest to ensure that it indexes as much as it can, not pick and choose.
The philosophy of their search engine has always been to index the "World's information".
To my recollection, I don't think that's changed?
I can see Google trying to do a more efficient job of indexing forum pages, maybe by setting a higher bar for the amount of content on a specific keyphrase before including the page in search results. (It can be annoying to search on "Widget XQ whatsit" and be sent to a page that has nothing on the topic except for some link anchor text. This is a common problem on certain types of forums.)
I agree that Google's "de-indexing" of forums seems unlikely. For many specialized topics, such as troubleshooting of software problems or whether one should wear a tuxedo at dinner on the S.S. WIDGETONIA, forums are the most useful sources of information available.
|maybe by setting a higher bar for the amount of content on a specific keyphrase before including the page in search results. |
That would be an excellent idea. I also get annoyed when I land on a thread with 4 lines of text and no replies.
Is it realistic to expect the SE's to determine when a page is a forum page, accurately?
Interesting thread, of course those that like the idea of others providing content via forums like forums and those that provide their own content would like to see them removed.
To me, it seems that Google places too much emphasis on the information in forums. (And for the record I don't have a forum yet on my website, but I have been thinking about adding one.) I agree with the filtering comment. I hate it when I'm looking for something and the result I'm looking at is someone asking the same question - and there arent any responses.
Could it be possible that the forums being discussed have a unique footprint? Is it also possible that the forums being discussed are subject to hacking issues? If so, wouldn't it be to Google's benefit to remove that stuff from the SERPs so users are not subjected to it?
Just pondering. Every time I see topics like this, the first thing I think of is footprints and the history of the software/program being discussed.
I agree with trillianjedi.
I have found many important information on forums. When you have an issue with something, its very likely that someone before you has had the issue and asked it on a forums.
There are many forums out there that will not show you the answer to the issue wich is a pain but I think there are many useful forums out there. Google should not filter them out of results.
Just my opinion though.
|Could it be possible that the forums being discussed have a unique footprint? |
Probably, yes. Although of course most are customisable. Accuracy could not be guaranteed - I could make my forum look like a regular page using CSS as a means of altering the code order/layout.
|Is it also possible that the forums being discussed are subject to hacking issues? |
Not sure I follow you? Just because a piece of software is hackable shouldn't dictate whether or not it's indexed, should it?
|Not sure I follow you? Just because a piece of software is hackable shouldn't dictate whether or not it's indexed, should it? |
No. But, if a certain piece of software is prone to multiple attacks and that type of behavior continues, then there may be some issues. I'm just talking out loud now. But, it is one of the things I would throw on the table.
There is an enourmous amount of useful information burried in 100,000 forums across the Internet. Google should have a separate search JUST for forums.
|There is an enourmous amount of useful information burried in 100,000 forums across the Internet. Google should have a separate search JUST for forums. |
Sure, and why not separate search for editorial and reference sites, commercial sites, and blogs, too? One obvious reason for Google's one-big-stew approach is that users who are looking for answers to specific questions care less about the format of the information than the information itself. (If Outlook keeps crashing every time I try to look at an e-mail with a file attachment, I just want a solution--I don't care if it's in a forum post or a Microsoft Knowledgebase article or John Doe's Windows troubleshooting site.)
|I see this as a positive step in the right direction. Google places way too much weight on forums. |
Nonsense, forums are a great (if not the best) sources for information online. I do programming in a few languages and most of the time i find the solutions i've been looking for only on forums (then anywhere else).
If anything, they should have been cutting on blogs and not on forums...poor decision really.
|If anything, they should have been cutting on blogs and not on forums...poor decision really. |
Like all websites, their value depends on who is writing them. Busy forums tend to have good rankings, but that doesn't make the posters any more knowledgeable usually. You can't say that blogs, forums, or any other format are more or less useful.
But let's not jump to conclusions about what Google has done. I suspect that the OP's problem is something more mundane than a forum filter, but we can't tell without more information.
What do the urls look like? Are they full of variables, such as example.com/page.php?variable=this&variable2=that, rather than example.com/some/topic/? Are the members allowed signatures linking out to anywhere they like?
|Are the members allowed signatures linking out to anywhere they like? |
Definitely something worthy of investigation. I've always stood behind Brett's policy of no signatures and feel it is important aspect of promoting an online forum.
|if a certain piece of software is prone to multiple attacks and that type of behavior continues, then there may be some issues. I'm just talking out loud now. But, it is one of the things I would throw on the table. |
I suppose my concern with that would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
If a system is primarily deducing what software is being used by "footprint", then it's possible that a "good" forum is using that software, but the site owner has completely patched the software so it's secure.
So the footprint trips the filter, but it happens to be a perfectly secure and good quality forum.
That's looking at it from a "penalty" type perspective though. Looking at it from another direction, giving a site a boost up rather than a boost down, I wonder if software footprints could have some value. Would it be fair to say that if a site owner has paid a large amount of money for a piece of forum software, it's like to be a better maintained forum? This is along the same kind of lines as period of registration for a domain - whether it's 1 year or 10 years.
That too has inherrent risks though, and would open up a whole new SEO angle - that of faking footprints....
We my forums are based on phpbb forums. I have gone through and made them completely SE friendly. The only way you see variables or id's is if your a visitor. SE's see clean /forums/post2312.html files instead of /forums/post.php?id=2312&uid=n309jd03k...
I started a forum a year ago. Got some visitors but always ended up supplemental in the serps. In December 2005 I did some tweaking - got rid of the sids, removed irrelevant links, information and standard guest/ user phrases. Added a sitemap and waited.
At present I have several hundred posts indexed, many of them ranking well for kws and phrases relevant to the forum (and main site). My google referals are showing an upward trend week by week. For my forum BD has been incredible.
|I started a forum a year ago. |
I think the age factor is a major contributor to whether or not forums are ranking these days. It makes sense, the authority forums usually have a strong history behind them and have established themselves as such. Google Toolbar data and other information they collect all ties in with this.
Newer forums are struggling to compete in a space that is already occupied by authorities and that includes blogs. It's a tough environment out there these days for both forums and blogs. Unless of course you have something totally unique and you are establishing yourself as the authority. That's another story.
And then you have Brett, he found a niche... [webmasterworld.com...]
I run a forum with 8000 pages. Google's site:www.myforum.com search typically says my site has 1/10th that number. My site uses ISAPI_Rewrite so all pages are SE friendly.
As an experiment, I dredged back into a few posts made in 1997 and Googled for a 4-5 word phrase contained in those posts. To my suprise, those pages were all in Google despite what was reported by site:www.myforum.com.
i think that u think in the wrong direction. Google tries to index the whole internet. So it? he? she? they? will not sort out some pages from forums. U have to differentiate between how google counts forums for pagerank and so on.... and between loosing some of it pages.
In the last time some - allthough mine side - lost thousand of pages. It now begins to rise again but they were gone. Lost in space ;-)
I think that all that pages will come into index again in future, time will show. But if they will have the same strenght for linkpower i do not know.
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