Changing from multiple forums/subs to huge "catch alls" - SEO Problem?

Discussion in 'Forum SEO' started by TheChiro, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. TheChiro

    TheChiro Devotee

    I wanted to get some ideas or perspectives from some of you who are more into the SEO aspect than I have been in the last 5+ years. We are working a new system to get rid of our massive forum index and turning to other sites that we have seen doing well with just a few sections for all discussions. IMO, the problem with these huge "catch alls" forum layouts is finding what you actually need. Sure the search feature can work, but many times it's a bit hard.

    What we are planning on doing is following a similar idea but using advanced filters. Our current forum index has 100's of forums with 100's of subforums (some times 3 or 4 clicks deep!!) and it just keeps growing with each new popular game. To remedy this, we are going to break it down into a few sections that will be the "catch all" so to speak. For example:
    Gaming (category)
    -- Games
    -- Games support
    Platforms (category)
    -- Gaming Platforms
    -- Platform Support

    These sections will make use of a game and console database giving threads a unique ID for the game and consoles it is associated with; same with the platforms, if it's a PC discussion, that will have the PC ID attached to it. This will allow us to reduce the number of sections on the site, shrinking our forum index by probably 1/4 or better while allowing users to have quicklinks to the filtered URL's (set up in the profile, such as favoriting certain games and consoles) so they aren't always having to go into a section and filter to their game.

    My current problem is possibly the SEO aspect of this. So I have some questions that I wanted to see if anyone could help me with:
    1. Since everything will be in one section and you can filter out a specific game title (giving a unique URL output as well for the results of the filter), will SE's, especially Google, see this as a problem? Almost like "duplicate content"?
    2. If yes, I'm assuming that the filtered pages (with the unique game and console IDs) need to be a canonical of the main category (i.e. Games)? Or better yet, the reverse, have the main be a canonical of all the individual games URLs?
    3. I will be using 301's to link the old links up to the new URL structure with the filter URL, will canonical-ing be an issue with this?
    4. With the sitemaps, should I get our script to output each game ID that has move the x threads to that game? Or just use the sitemap as default and don't worry about the threads and how the sitemap categorizes it?
    5. Anything else I should be aware of?
    I'm really excited to unleash this system into the wild but after all these hours and money put into this, SEO popped into my head and I'm hoping that I'm not shooting myself in the foot with this set up.

    Let me know if I need to give more details. I didn't want to post the entire set up of the system as it would be longer winded than this already is. I'm really hoping someone here can help me with this.
  2. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    Use as little in the GET as you need to make it a unique URL and have that as the canonical tag. Everything else gets submitted via POST parameters. For example:

    POST days=365
    POST direction=asc

    POST days=7
    POST direction=asc
    Both end up with the same canonical even though one is for 365 days and the other for 7.

    This ensures all URLs match their canonical URL, and you won't have to worry about URL duplication in Google.
  3. TheChiro

    TheChiro Devotee

    Talked to my dev and he said this doesn't apply to us.

    What we are doing is we are using GET for pulling up the game, console, and prefix URLs. However, with regards to canonicals, I believe, through all the reading I've done in the last week, we will only canonical the console and prefix URLs to the game URL. As an example:
    Filter by game: GTA V
    Takes you to the games section on the site with the GTA V ID URL to only show GTA V threads, includes every console and every prefix
    Filter by console in GTA V: Xbox One
    Adds the URL parameter for Xbox One to the URL so now you see GTA V threads that only relate to Xbox One - this will be a canonical of GTA V from above
    Filter by prefix in GTA V + Xbox One: Tutorial
    Adds the prefix parameter to the URL so now you see GTA V threads that only relate to Xbox One and Tutorials - this will be a canonical of GTA V from the above

    So one of the things that's bugging me is sitemap structure. I'm thinking about making the games to work similar to the current xf categories for google to find easier but set parameters (because we don't need to submit game pages if there are little to no threads for that game, even though our system can pull up that game page, will just show there are no threads and we will ask the user to create a thread for that game); so any game that has more than x threads to it (thinking 50-100 threads as that would be a couple of pages worth of threads then) will have a "category" in the sitemap for the search bots to crawl and discover easier (and hopefully index!).

    Hoping that all of this is the right path to take.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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