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Forums vs. Blogs: SEO Good?

Are blogs and/or forums beneficial in the search engines?

     
8:41 pm on Jul 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Speaking in terms of SEO / search engine promotion, I'd like to learn about the pros and cons of setting up either a discussion forum, or blog, on a site.

We have a site that revolves around a very unpleasant and ambiguous topic: taxes. We are considering setting up either a forum or blog to help our visitors ask questions/discuss amoung themselves (w/ appropriate moderation, if a forum) their tricky / specific situations and questions. Hopefully this would be helpful for visitors and create stickiness for our site...also, hopefully it would have positive SEO effects...

So, I am wondering what the implications of setting up either a blog or forum would be in terms of SEO? Having constant fresh content on the site seems like it would be a bonus, but I am wondering, if that's true, how much good can it bring? And, what factors should the site consider to ensure its success with the search engines?

Also, does anyone have any info on which would be better to create (if you think this would be a worthwhile endeavor):
a blog or forum?

Thanks in advance!

11:36 pm on July 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, a forum CAN help if its on topic - particularly if the menu in the forum allows visitors to browse the rest of the site. In effect it can serve as a quite legitamate doorway page of sorts. I've done this myself and a forum does give rise to LOTS of additional keywords you probably couldn't get into your site content or had even thought of:)

nuff said.....
:)

12:09 am on July 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In your case I'd write some careful disclaimers. The last thing anyone wants is to be sued for giving bad 'legal' advice.
12:27 am on July 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Jackie, forums and blogs can be very helpful for your traffic. Forums tend to create much more content, and with user-generated topics will pull in traffic on topics or phrases that never occurred to you.

Blogs are good, too, but tend to rely more on the primary author.

Be sure the software you use is capable of being spidered, though, and expect to make a few SEO tweaks to get your pages indexed well.

1:41 am on July 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wow - thank you guys so much for your input! This is most helpful.

Teknorat-you raise a very good point, and we were contemplating approaching CPAs to see if they would be interested in Moderator positions, hoping that the potential for an increased client base would entice them to moderate for free. Disclaimers are a must, though, as well a way for us to be able to scour out any foul language, etc (the 'I-hate the-blankety-blankers-for-taking-my-last-dime' kinda stuff :)

Rogerd or Hitcher, if you could suggest any tools you you know about that could help us create a search engine friendly forum, that would be much appreciated! Also, if you could share any SEO-friendly forum tactics or fixes that that might give me a heads up on the process (without too much trouble on your part), I would really appreciate it. I realize that much of this will be trial and error and learning as we go along...

Thanks so much for all your help! This is very encouraging.

5:54 pm on July 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wondering now if anyone has used or has a preference between ubb or vbulletun? (From what I'm seeing, these are two of the more SE-friendly forum tools).
2:18 pm on July 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm actively using vbulletin, so that's obviously my preference.

From my research you should look into pricing. While it most likely will not break your decision, be aware infopop is rather notorious for charging nice fees (@100+) for updates. Jelsoft (makers of vb) have a nice $30/year for all updates and new versions. Vb seems to scale better as well. Plus feature wise ubb is nowhere near a match.

10:08 pm on July 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Also, if you could share any SEO-friendly forum tactics or fixes

Here are a few software-related things to check at the outset:
1) SessionIDs are bad for spidering and indexing - eliminate them for spiders (or for everyone).
2) Static URLs (or URLs that look static) are best, followed by short (say, 1 parameter) query strings.
3) Check the page title and description for topics and threads - you may have to modify the code for these to get clean, relevant titles/descriptions.
4) Eliminate junk where possible - stuff that clutters the page (and code) without benefit for visitors or SEs.

2:04 pm on July 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks everybody! This is tremendously helpful.

Rogerd and Okrogius - I really appreciate your specific feedback - it will be a huge help to us.

2:25 am on July 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Good luck, and remember that technology is only one part of building a community. I've seen great communities develop around lousy software, and plenty of great software installs that never caught fire.