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JASPER

Which Forum software is best?

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I am thinking of taking the plunge and buying the  vbulletin software for my forum.

I currently use SMF but it does not appear to be very search engine friendly.

I have tried some of their MODS but these have not made any difference to site traffic.

 

Two other forums on a similar subject feature in quite a lot of searches  and get quite good traffic and page views.

Both use vbulletin with Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO  plugin.

It seems to work.

 

For me it may be worth spending £250 ($400)  to increase visitors to my Forum and therefore my website 100 fold.

I heard a rumour that you can only use vbulletin for one forum, each different url forum needing a new licence?

 

I wish I could try it for free for a month to be sure it works.

 

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I heard a rumour that you can only use vbulletin for one forum, each different url forum needing a new licence? 

 

That is not a rumor, that is a fact. You can only have one "live" installation and one for testing.

 

I have had the opportunity to use both vBulletin and Invision. They are currently the two most popular paid forum software around. Invision just released version 3.4 with a built in SEO plugin. You can read about it here http://community.invisionpower.com/blog/1174/entry-7815-ipboard-34-dev-update-ipseo/ . With vBulletin you would have to purchase vbseo separately. I cannot tell you which forum software is better for traffic, but between both I do prefer Invision.

 

If you do decide to make the move over to a new forum software, you will have to consider that you will lose existing traffic and that it can take several months to regain it, if you regain it at all.

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Why would I lose existing traffic?

Do you mean the membershiop would be lost?  (not really a biggy in my case!)

Or do you mean traffic would be lost due to the urls changing?

If it is the latter, then traffic lost should be replaced by the improved SEO ..No?

I may even decide to have a completely new domain name for the forum.

 

I am concerned about whether I can transfer my SMF database to vBulletin so i acn keep all the posts.

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Traffic would be lost due to URLs changing. Unless you can 301 redirect them all to their corresponding pages.

 

Whatever traffic is lost due to URL changes is permanent. Every single page will have to be reindexed and go through the ranking process again due to links pointing to some of your pages. You may or may not regain traffic to specific pages. BUT, you may be able to rank for new pages if the site is properly optimized. 

 

If you do have a new domain then you have to consider this to be a completely new site and go through the process of building from scratch except that you have content.

 

vBulletin has an import script that allows you to import the data to the new forum. I am sure they have an import script for SMF

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What you can do is find the pages that have the most traffic and then 301 redirect them to the new URLs. It's simpler and you can minimize the traffic loss.

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Re directing is not an option.  Far too many to do.

I get (according to analytics) 600 visitors a month to the forum.

Losing this amount of traffic may not be too serious if it means a healthy bounce with a new domain.

(Mind you traffic to my Impulse site is virtually non existent after 6 months!)

 

Would it be possible to just re direct the "home page" of the old forum and would then any urls starting with that  go to the new domain home page?

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Would it be possible to just re direct the "home page" of the old forum and would then any urls starting with that  go to the new domain home page?

 

You don't want to redirect all URLs to the new home page, only the home page of your current forum.

 

Here are some steps that I recommend that you do:

 

  • Password protect your new domain, If you're using cPanel you can find information here.http://docs.cpanel.net/twiki/bin/view/AllDocumentation/CpanelDocs/PasswordProtectDirectories Password protecting your site will block search engines from crawling until you are done customizing your forum and have imported the info from the other forum. 
  • Install new forum software on new domain. 
  • Customize your new forum
  • Backup old site and database
  • Import information from your other forum
  • Remove password protection
  • redirect home page and your 20 most popular pages or more to their new corresponding pages
  • take down old forum (make sure old non-redirected pages come up with a 404)
  • create sitemap of new forum and submit to Google

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Thanks for this.

 

What I have done at the moment is used a SMF mod that re writes the urls called "Prettyurls"

My topic urls are now as those in vBulletin.

For example:-

http://www.brand-newhomes.co.uk/forum/smf/taylor-wimpey-homes/taylor-wimpey-on-bbc-watchdog-26-september-2012/

(When I can do the re directs, I will get rid of the smf file so it does not appear in the url)

I am going to see how this affects the number of visitors in the next two months before taking the plunge with vBulletin.

(I don't have any income at the moment)

 

By the way I was only intending to re direct the Forum home page but I take your point about the most popular posts as well.

 

Thanks for your help and advice.

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