01 October 2005

A challenger comes?

UseBB. Terrible name, no doubt about it; it seems like every free bulletin board under the sun these days has a name that ends in -BB (obviously that's untrue, look at SMF and MyTopix for example - but my point stands). But that's just a name - whilst they'll have a harder time getting people to notice them, it doesn't actually affect he software.

And boy, what fantastic software. For a few months now I've been struggling to make Invision more search-engine friendly. Installing the Friendly URL mod helped a bit; so did spattering some rel="nofollow" tags around on the links I didn't want spiders following. But Invision still insists on sticking bit onto links like /boards/index.php?showtopic=1280&view=getnewpost . That's fine for users that want to see the latest posts, but Google & co are treating that as a separate page from
/boards/index.php?showtopic=1280 - and because it sees two different pages on your site with the same content, you get penalized. Not fun.

UseBB, very wisely indeed, just uses anchor links like /UseBB/topic-post10.html#post10 to achieve exactly the same thing for users - but Google realises that's the same page as
/UseBB/topic-post10.html and so you don't get penalised for duplicate content!

See the difference in the tidyness of search results for yourself:

I use Invision as an example because it's terrible handling of search engine spiders has been frustrating me for a while now, but I notice vBulletin has exactly the same problems.

Add to that the fact that the XHTML code UseBB puts out for all its pages is extremely clean and 100% XHTML strict (wow!) valid, and you've got a recipe for producing threads that are going to go straight to the top of Google results and drive the growth of your board for years to come! There's no excuse for the established boards to be so bad at getting the great content we have in our forums properly into the search engines. Forums often have way more content than the average website - if we admins find it so hard to make the kind of money you'd expect from content like that, it's because we can't turn that content into hits well enough.

There's a lot missing from UseBB though - polls, private messages and a fully functional admin backend. A better backend is essential (and in the pipeline for 1.0), but I'm not convinced of the need for polls and PM's - users can email each other from the boards, and as for polls I've always thought it would be better for the community spirit of a board for people to voice their opinions, rather than anonymously vote. After all, we're here to share opinions and make friends!


Anonymous Admin-Lounge said...

I hate free forum softwares, especially useBB and myBB. The support isn't too great and features are O.K..

I'd rather save up money and purchase vBulletin where you can get quick response to support, and tons of mods/hacks/styles. I just love their network. vBulletin.com, vBulletin.org

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 4:42:00 am  

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