Getting rid of duplicate content in vBulletin forum!

When I switched my travel forum from Phpbb to vBulletin, I was amazed by the fact how search engine friendly vBulletin really is and how easy it is to optimize it even further!

However one aspect where vBulletin clearly takes a beating is when it comes to the question of duplicate content. In the process of making vBulletin user-friendly, its developers have ensured that the content is accessible through various links and in various formats.

A typical thread is accessible through the normal thread URL, through achieves, through printable format and through individual posts of the thread.

This means, same content is available through multiple links and in multiple formats. Which means Google can choose one format over the other while displaying your site’s listing in its search engine results and most often than not it is the archive format, which ranks above the normal thread view due to better content to code ratio.

This could lead to majority of your search engine traffic going to the archive pages, which are poorer in design and aren’t able to captivate the audience like the normal themed pages!

While the latest version of vBulletin does try to counter these shortcoming to a certain degree by making links to printable view and single post, nofollow. There is some tweaking required by the administrator to make it even better.

Here are a couple of simple steps you can follow, to drastically reduce amount of duplicate content in your forum:

Make your Archive behave like a sitemap: In the latest release of vBulletin, you can drastically reduce the amount of duplicate content in your forum by redirecting links category archive to the actual threads in the forum. Which means the forum archive would actually act more like a site map, rather than add duplicate content to your forum! This in turn helps search engines index your site more efficiently, since it gives them an efficient way of crawling your forum.

To enable this setting, log in to ‘Admincp’ – choose ‘vBulletin options’ – then select ‘Search Engine Friendly Archive’ – scroll down to ‘Display Simple View of Threads’ and choose ‘No’ and click ‘Save’.

You can also choose to completely disable archives; however it is better to use this setting instead.

Exclude show post pages from your sitemap: In the latest release of vBulletin, the developers have made the links to showpost (link to individual post of a thread) nofollow, however if you improperly configure the vBSEO Google/Yahoo Sitemap Generator, it will include the links to individual posts and submit them to Google and Yahoo. Which in turn defeats the actual wisdom of making the links to individual posts nofollow!

To configure your vBSEO Google/Yahoo Sitemap Generator properly, login to ‘Admincp’ – click on ‘vBSEO sitemap settings’ – scroll down to ‘Include Show Post Pages’ and choose ‘No’ and click ‘Save’.

This would ensure the links to individual posts isn’t included in the sitemap and the same content isn’t available in another format.

The above steps are just a couple of things which you can do to optimize your vBulletin forum better for the search engines and there by gain more traffic and generate more revenue.

Of course you can always invest in vBSEO, which not only helps you rewrite your URLs to a more readable and recognizable format, it also helps reduce the duplicat content by using various nofollow and 301 redirects to keep the search engine spiders and users to pages which you want them to view.


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