Forum SEO: vBulletin/vbSEO vs IPB with SEO URL’S

Brandon Sheley posted this on Twitter.

I’m 95% certain I can get a vb+vbseo board to out rank an IPB forum with the same content & links.

I was going to write an article about this very topic. I had gathered the data and taken screenshots to do this and until Brandon posted on Twitter I didn’t have the urge. I have converted 3 of my communities to IPB from vBulletin. The sites all had vbSEO installed. I gathered the data from  Computer Help Forums from the last week I had vBulletin with vbSEO installed and then each week after the conversion to IPB. What I did was look at stats for each week after after I converted. Initially pageviews dropped, but, site visits and visitors stayed constant. Then about 2 weeks  in I noticed an increase in pageviews, visits and visitors. I also noticed that the search engines seemed to visit more often.

First a little information about the before and after. I had vBuletin installed with vbSEO. I used the vbSEO replacement feature which adds the first x words from each post to the header. I used the custom meta tags for each page and keyword thread titles.

When I converted to IPB I set up htaccess friendly url’s. I redirected the old vbSEO url’s to the default vBulletin url’s. Then used the tools IPB gives you to redirect the old url’s to the new IPB search engine friendly url’s. I have done nothing extra to the stock install of IPB to make it more SE friendly. The site doesn’t even have meta tags. I don’t know if adding them would help, but, it sure hasn’t hurt as the stats below will tell you.

Take a look at the last week I had vBulletin installed with vbSEO.

vbulletin with vbseo stats

Now look at the stats from the site 2 weeks after converting to IPB.

IPB one week stats

As you can see since the switch from vBulletin with vbSEO to IPB with no extra SEO being done the site gets more traffic, more visitors and more pageviews.

Now lets look at the SE activity on the site. One would expect this to increase anyway since the search engines had to re-index all the content. That is why I went a little farther ahead with this data. I wanted to let things calm down and in order to do that I waited until a month passed.

Search engine activity from the last week vBulletin and vbSEO were installed.

search engine visits with vbSEO and vbulletin installed

Now lets look at the first week a month after the install of IPB.

search engine visits with IPB installed

As you can see the search engines seem to like the site. They visit with more frequency.

Clearly a stock install of IPB with no special SEO done to it will not hurt your site in the search engines. In fact in my case the results with a stock IPB install performed better than the install of vBulletin with vbSEO.

So getting back to Brandon’s tweet. I would bet that anything that he can do with vbSEO wouldn’t matter at all. An equal IPB forum with same content would perform as well or better. That’s my opinion anyway.

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