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Vbulletin - avoiding duplicate content in Google

need some tips before installation

   
5:24 pm on Oct 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Hi guys, in lieu of duplicate content and canonicalization, I would like some feedback from those who have experience with Vbulletin installations on their sites.

I wish to avoid and duplicate penalties and make sure only one url points to each post. Any feedback on how you have managed this would be greatly appreciated.

As well, is there a static option or a rewrite option which makes the dynamic urls redirect possibly to static to avoid the issue entirely?

7:51 pm on Nov 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Yes, an astonishing statement... surely a troll?!
After 2 years of running an IPB installation, I have finally found the metal power and experience to bring it under control. Now, it is indexed very well, with only one URL per thread page (although I decided to leave the LO-FI version indexable also and carefully crafted things to allow each page of each thread to be indexed also). A well managed forum will be a benefit to you and not harmful.
12:38 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>> showing that there are no duplicate content issues with vBulletin whatsoever <<

Interesting.

And completely wrong.

Words fail me.


Indeed, I love vBulletin, but it is painfully apparent that its designers are absolutely clueless when it comes to SEO. Anybody who can not see how multiple URLs (as a result of poorly planned query strings)to the same thread page is a massive SEO problem don't know squat about SEO nor do they understand the whole duplicate content issue.

My suggestion is those who don't see the issue should leave their forums alone while the rest of us do what we can to fix ours. The less competition the better.

1:13 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Oh yuck, forum crud yet again.

Out of the box, most forum software is an accident that has _already_ happened and is just waiting for the search engines to _locate_ and _confirm_ the patient has _committed_ suicide.

Most folks I've seen discuss a Vbulletin based system have installed various mods to get control of a number of issues.

I just finished looking at another forum I'm a member of it is a Vbulletin based system running the 3.5.3 version of the software.

I can indeed find what looks like duplicated pages in Google's index for that site.

In fact when I save the pages and normalize the saved file names there only minor differences in the markup and just the time is different for the content portion of the two pages I ran a diff on.

When I go read the mail there I'll have to let the owner know about that.

1:24 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



vBulletin can be fixed. It is a lot of work.

I can point to a 40 000 thread forum that had 750 000 URLs indexed in Google just a year ago.

A year later it has just 45 000 URLs indexed: one URL per thread, and the various thread indexes.

7:49 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Hello,

I like where this thread is heading and do agree that vBulletin has serious duplicate content issues out of the box that need to be fixed.

I agree with g1smd and Nick0r on many things. I disagree with Joey 100% though. I am at a loss for words that anyone can look at vBulletin and not see duplicate content issues everywhere. From the multiple urls that lead to the same page, to the redundant archive feature, vBulletin is a mess out of the box.

I agree with g1smd that using a robots.txt to prevent the search engines from indexing things such as showthread.php?p=3333 is a bad idea and a bad fix. That link will then be worthless to you when someone gets that url viewing a thread and decides to link to it on other web sites, which costs you a backlink. The only real solutions are to 1) rewrite the urls using mod_rewrite to get rid of all the duplicate urls and 301 redirect to orignal threads where needed, such as new post links. 2) Rewrite vBulletin to only use the t= which imo is too much work, however it much more feasible for a larger board that doesn't want to lose all its backlinks to the old showthread.php pages by using mod_rewrite.

Myself, I opted to go with VBSEO for both old and new sites. While it is $150 I am not capable of coding nor do I have the time to learn how to code to do the same thing that vBSEO does at the same level of quality that it achieves. While it may do 1 or 2 things that you may not agree with like using 301 redirects in certain situations it does produce 1 url that people will use to link to that thread and that does wonders to me. On top of that it includes other optional things that make running a vBulletin forum easier.

I hope that vBulletin does take this serious and fix it in future versions of vBulletin.

8:45 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I'd also like to comment about joeychgo's statements. It seems to me he noticed that there are cases where Google has indexed and ranked two versions of a URL, but then jumped from that true observation to the conclusion that there is no duplicate issue at all with vBulletin.

It's true that in some cases Google may index and even rank certain duplicate URLs - on any domain, not just a vBulletin forum. But that is not to say that having a single URL wouldn't be better, even in those cases. Plus, many of us know quite well the struggles we have had that only a UNARY URL structure has fixed for us.

He also appears to make a common SEO error by thinking in terms of a duplicate "penalty" -- like a black mark against the domain kept in some back end database table deep inside Mountain View.

Duplicate handling at Google is usually a simple matter of filtering, and not penalizing. But that doesn't mean you can't depress your rankings when multiple URLs point to the same content, compared to what you might otherwise achieve. In some cases, with low PR or an undeveloped trust profile, you can even seem to chase googlebot away from any kind of thorough spidering.

I know I will probably not get this wish, but I wish the phrase "duplicate penalty" would be disallowed in the SEO vocabulary. It has generated a lot of confusion and needless obsession.

8:51 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Duplicate handling at Google is usually a simple matter of filtering, and not penalizing. But that doesn't mean you can't depress your rankings when multiple URLs point to the same content, compared to what you might otherwise achieve.

This is the biggest thing right here. If you have multiple urls pointing to the same thing and all those multiple urls are being used to link to the same thread you are losing valuable link weight! You want one url to get linked and only one so that the search engine doesn't have to decide which url gets the weight. If you have 24 people that link to your thread using showthread.php?t=23 and then 120 linking to a thread using the showthread.php?p=35474 and then throw in the other ones that somehow appear... you got a mess. It's so obvious. It's like some people just want to disagree for the sake of disagreeing. It's common sense that one url is better than multiple.

8:28 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



That is one part of the issue.

The other is the links with ?t=33333&goto=nextnewest and ?t=55555&goto=nextoldest both pointing to a thread that is already indexed as ?t=44444 are another form of duplicate. Likewise ?t=55555&goto=nextnewest and ?t=77777&goto=nextoldest might both be pointing to a thread that is already indexed as ?t=66666.

Additionally, if any of the three threads in a "chain" are bumped, the two &goto= links no longer point to the correct thread from the SERPs...

9:56 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



What do you guys think about the archive?

I've had it enabled - but i've modified meta descriptions and titles significantly enough so that google is happy to consider them seperate pages and will index and rank both.

Update: I've just turned it off because I've realised that almost no traffic is going to it anyway, so it seems pointless.

In terms of removing the problems relating to more than one URL. My board is very heavily modified to ensure a 1url per thread structure, and to do so, I found the simplest method was to simply use vbulletin IF conditions in templates to only show links to things like showthread.php?p= and member.php?find=lastposter to registered and logged in members.

[edited by: Nick0r at 9:57 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2006]

10:13 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



and to do so, I found the simplest method was to simply use vbulletin IF conditions in templates to only show links to things like showthread.php?p= and member.php?find=lastposter to registered and logged in members.

This still does not stop your registered members from getting these links and then going out on other boards and linking to the p=3354 etc etc.

As far as the Archive its pointless imo. Disable it and use it as a sitemap or just block it off completely.

10:57 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I have a new VB install and from looking at this thread it seems like opinion is divided on VBSEO - Until today I was going to run with it, is it a good product or a waste of money? I am not sure I want to tackle ay coding changes to VB myself.
11:11 pm on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I use VBSEO on 4 forums and love it. If you don't want to do drastic code changes to vBulletin VBSEO is the best option for you imo.
8:07 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'd definitely advise it for new forums. I'm a bit worried about doing it on my 2 year old forum, because changing URLs on a sitewide basis doesn't really appeal to me. I've heard of people having problems before.
8:11 pm on Dec 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Well for whatever its worth I took a 3 year old site and put VBSEO on it and it has all the new urls indexed perfectly.
5:54 pm on Dec 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Are you determined to use VB? I have been using phpbb for a while now, and with the SEO mod and a few spambot defeating mods, it can get WELL positioned in the serps... The phpbb dup content issue is totally solved with SEO mod.

Just a suggestion. If you are not in love with VB you might want to consider kicking the tires on phpbb, it has gotten much better lately.

3:11 am on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Always interested in alternatives - I've always thought that VB was the standard.
6:49 pm on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I once did a custom mod for my own site that was better than vbseo. Took care of every single case of duplicate content, and I do mean every case... made the link text far better. It seemed to help a fair bit. But it took months of work. Then after vb had a few upgrades, I just didn't feel it was worth the investment to fix it in the upgrade and reluctantly dropped all my changes. One developer who has plenty of other work can't keep up fixing what a team of developers wantonly breaks over and over again...sigh.

I'm actually rather pissed at both vbulletin and google for failing to fix this. Google can detect a vb installation easily. Just figure out vb is there and find the highest thread number, and index from high on down. Ignore the other url's that point to the dupe content and don't penalize the site for those pages. Simple. There are too many vb's out there to penalize sites for having the best forum software for your users..

And vb can fix this easily too. At least with a lot less pain than switching to OOP and all the other massive systemwide changes they do version after version(ie changing coding practices). There are several threads on the topic. But the management doesn't seem too interested to fix it.

I was tempted many times to write my own forum software using php and setting up stuff that SEOs would like to have. But it's just too big a job and my coding skills probably aren't good enough to do this. I'm self-taught so you wind up with a lot of holes in your knowledge..

11:40 pm on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Hmm, but vbseo seems to be based more on pumping keywords in to URLs than anything else. That was something a few believed for a while sometime back, but I don't feel that it is a generally effective strategy today.

G1smd you are my "duplicate content" mentor and I hate to disagree with you, but...

I recently kicked off a new forum site. A phpbb veteran, I went with VB because I heard so many good things about it.

I also bought vbSEO.

There is so far no duplicate content issues, and the amount of tweaks and options in vbSEO is truly impressive. Even the archives can be tweaked to prevent D content.

Duplicate content is addressed extensively in the newest version of vbSEO and after installing it, I also read and searched everywhere on VB dup content. My conclusion so far is that it covers all the bases "if" you also use a good robots.txt file and do your non-www to www trick.

Please correct me if I am wrong, I am not "married" to vbSEO, but I think it deserves a bit more credit then it gets here.

Have you guys seen or used the very newest version? The setup options, help on the web site, the vbSEO forums cover dup content very well, it is a big issue and they seem to take great pains in making sure it is fixed...

I may be totally wrong here, like I said, I know phpbb inside and out, but VB I am new to. I don't want to "disagree" in a confident sense, but rather as a "well ok, but it's different now, isn't it?" sense.

If I am wrong that vbSEO doesn't "CURRENTLY" address very well, the dup content issues, please not only let me know, but tell me in addition to vbSEO what I should be doing to further defeat duplicate content.

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