vBulletin, IPB, XF and headaches

I’m starting to lose my mind these days, and I’m sure I’m no the only one..

My web site www.defendingthetruth.com started off on phpBB back in 2005 as a college project. The forum has grown quite substantially over the years and I needed another solution to phpBB, it just couldn’t keep up and there were many issues w/ spam. So after observing some of the best forum software out on the web, I decided to go withvBulletin 3. Since my purchase, I was very pleased and my forums continued to grow. The addition of vBseo only benefited the web site w/ more incoming traffic and revenue.

I don’t know if any of you are like me, but for some reason I must have the “latest and greatest” technology and software. When something new comes out, I want it. Now we have VB4, XenForo, InvisionPower 3.1, and many others. I didn’t list the “many others” because honestly, I feel it’s down to the big 3.

Has anyone recently left VB for Invision or XF, or vice-versa? I think I may have to force myself to wait a few more months to see VB’s release of v4.1. If it doesn’t hold up to VB’s expectations, then I think it will be time to move onto XF or Invision..

Read on here…

Become friends with Googlebot

Google Webmaster Tools

Webmaster’s and web site owners should take advantage of Google “Webmaster Tools” program. Upon logging into Google Webmasters Tools, you will see a simple dashboard indicating your web sites that are currently active in the program. Below is a sample of my dashboard:

Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard

Upon selecting a web site from the dashboard, you will then have the power to educate the Googlebot (which is Google’s search engine spider) to scan certain pages, enable rewrite rules, set crawl rate, block URL’s, image search optimization, and so on. All of these features will only benefit and your web site as the Googlebot will have a better understanding of your preferences.

Diagnostics-
Under the Diagnostics tab, you will have access to monitor Google’s Web and Mobile crawl of your web site. I check this regularly to keep track of any HTTP errors or Not Found errors.

Statistics-
I browse the Statistics tab on a regular basis due to its great advantage for SEO purposes. All of the options under that tab can be used for advertising purposes, top keywords, Google statistics, and much more..

Sitemaps-
I believe this is the first most essential option for your web site. If your web site does not currently have a sitemap, I would encourage that you create one and submit it to Google by selecting the “Sitemaps” tab. Upon submitting a sitemap, Googlebot will have a much easier time scanning your web site for new content. You will also have the ability to view the last time Google downloaded your sitemap.

Tools-
Analyze Robots.txt – This is another essential option for your web site as you can tell the Googlebot what to do when “it” visits your web site. I feel comfortable with my current robots.txt file, but if you want to get more information regarding your robots.txt file, do take advantage of this option.

Manage Site Verification – This is a must if you want to take advantage of the Google Webmaster Tools.
Set Crawl Rate – I feel that this is a pretty cool feature as you can control the Googlebot crawl rate. If your server is having trouble handling traffic as-is, it may be best to take advantage of this feature by changing the crawl rate to “slower”, improving your servers performance.

Set Preferred Domain – Now this is a feature that I absolutely love! Before enabling this feature, my site had duplicate pages indexed in Google as http:// and http://www. In order to solve this, I enabled this feature which redirects/rewrites all http:// indexed pages to http://www. I believe this is something that will really help in SERPS as you will not be slapped on the wrist for having duplicate content..

Enable Enhance Image Search – By default, this is disabled. If you have an Album or image database that are all images owned by yourself, I would DEFINITELY take advantage of this feature as you could experience a great increase in traffic from Google Images. When enabled, this feature allows the Googlebot to observe images across your entire web site. So if you have a Gallery or Album, and your images have defined alt tags, you should benefit greatly with this option enabled!!

Google Webmaster Tools Toolbar

By teaming up with the Googlebot, you can help excel all of the potential in your web site. So sign up, verify your site, and work with your new friend “Googlebot” to help achieve betters SERPS!!

Backlinks, Backlinks, Backlinks

When it comes to running any type of web site, if you want to increase your Google PageRank or receive higher results in search engine queries, you need to focus on backlinks.

Backlinks are links from other web sites that link to yours.

Here are some key steps I use to help increase my web site “PageRank” or popularity rating, and traffic.

-Check current backlink stats

Google tends to show different results at different times, so the best Search Engine I like to use for checking backlinks is Yahoo or MSN. To check your backlink, visit Google, Yahoo, or MSN and type in the following:
link:www.yourdomain.com
A list will be retrieved showing you all the (backlinks) links linking to your web site.

-Check backlinks on related, popular sites
I would visit similar web sites to mine with a much higher traffic rating or PageRank. I would then retrieve all of their backlinks via Google, Yahoo, and MSN (link:www.theirdomain.com).

-Submit to backlinks retrieved from related, popular sites

This step has been most rewarding in increasing my web sites popularity ratings as it shows you what other web sites like yours have for backlinks. What I would do next is submit my web site to all of the results I see queried from the search engine. I would not do this for just the results retrieved from Google, but from all the major search engines. This approach can help dramatically as it has helped with web sites that are related to yours.

-Get listed in Dmoz.org
Dmoz.org should be the first directory you submit to, as it is among the highest rated directory among most of the Search Engines. If you get listed in there, you are on a very good start. Dmoz also offers a script to webmasters where they can list the the directory/sites on their own web site. So if you get listed in dmoz, you will also be listed on hundreds of web sites that have the script installed.

-Hound “in a nice way” Dmoz.org editors

Why hound dmoz.org? Well, many web sites have claimed lately that it usually takes up to 1 year, or even longer to get listed in Dmoz. Dmoz.org claims that it could take several weeks to get your web site listed, but in reality, it takes several months. I would send a friendly e-mail to the editor a couple of times a month asking what the progress is on my submission. In just a month, I got a response from the editor stating that my web site was accepted into the Open-Directory. I’ve browsed through many webmaster discussion web sites, and people are complaining about how slow it is to get listed in dmoz.org. Well, if you kindly e-mail the editors on a regular basis, you might just get them to list your site sooner so that you will stop sending them e-mails. It worked for me.

-Submit to free-directories

Submitting to free-directories is free, and it is counted as a backlink. However do keep in mind that submitting to directories with a PageRank of 0 will not help much…Try to submit to directories with a good PageRank or Alexa rating.

-Purchase text-links
Some web sites will not list your web site for free. Some will require a reciprocal link, or a small cost. If you are willing to pay for a text-link, only do so if the web site pulls in good traffic, or has a high PageRank. Other than that, save your money.

-Text Link Ads Service
One service I admire the most is the new Text Link Ads service. Registration is fast and free. Once you are signed up, you can browse among thousands of web sites to advertise your web site on. This isn’t a typical dynamic link generated to your web site, but a static HTML link which would be considered a backlink to your web site. Their search feature is organized by Category, Alexa rank, Google PageRank, and so on. Prices usually ranges from $10/mo to $250/mo for a text-link. The big benefit with this service over lets say Google Adsense, is that it’s not based on CPC (Cost Per Click) That static link will be on that web site for as long as you want it to be. You can advertise on web sites all the way up to PageRank 10! Some web sites only offer homepage advertising, and others offer side-wide advertising. Side-wide advertising is advertising on all of its pages (usually hundreds to thousands of pages) This service is a quick way to boost traffic and PageRank. I use it regularly for Defending the Truth – Debate Politics Online
You can sign up for free here.
Or for a limited time offer (requires minimum $125 purchase) you can get $100 free in Text Links!

-Check backlinks weekly
After all that work you have spent submitting/asking webmasters to list your web site, why not keep up-to-date with your results? Each week I like to check my backlinks on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, along with recording my results. Increasing backlinks sure is a time-consuming process, but it can be rewarding in the end if you keep up with the dedicated work.

Good Luck!