phpBB SEO Ultimate SEO URL Presentation

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phpBB SEO Ultimate SEO URL Presentation

Postby dcz » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:57 am

The phpBB SEO Ultimate SEO URL Mod :

phpBB SEO is providing three different mod Rewrite solutions for Search Engine Optimizing phpBB. In what follow, we will present the main principle behind the mod. Some of you may know that the phpBB SEO URL mods used to be released as three separate mods, and that they have been unified in V0.6.0. Starting from then, we do not talk about three different mods, but rather about three different modes, since the three type of URL remain and have each become a mode in the unified mod.

Please read carefully what follows, you will save time and will ensure that you will not jeopardise your PageRanking and SERPs.

Please Note :
  • These codes are, in the end, quite easy to install, but you should better think two times about it before you go online.
    A small typo in the .htaccess or in a RewriteRule can temporary block a whole site, and modifying your forum's URLs is really a big change in you web-site's life.
  • The phpBB SEO Search Engine Optimizing techniques are really working, but you should not forget that the most important in what is put online is content and not the Search Engine Optimization trick we are able to install.
    Search engine Optimization is only Optimization, and thus optimization of something that must be there. What we Optimize with SEO is content impact in Search Engine, no content, no optimization.
    A simple way to state this would be :
    Code: Select all
    1 000 000 000 X 0 = 0

  • Quite some forums do not need any Search Engine Optimization, just because they only have private forums. Furthermore, very low quality content can be almost impossible to search for (no matching search query).
  • In all cases, our advice here is to ask you to think well about your project's needs and about the effort you will be ready to put in it.
    Few days of local testing to properly understand what is involved here can keep you safe from many problems.
    And Remember, your web-site's Ranking will not suffer from waiting a bit more.

Overview :
  1. What is common to the three modes
    1. Before you Start
    2. Title injection
    3. The robots.txt
    4. The .htaccess
    5. Migration
    6. The Support
    7. Why asking for a link ?
  2. The three different phpBB SEO mod Rewrites modes
    1. The Simple mode
    2. The Mixed mode
    3. The Advanced mode
    4. The modes
  3. Download
    The Ultimate SEO URL SEO URL mod can be downloaded from here :
    Ultimate SEO URL mod
Useful links :
SEO Forum || SEO Directory || SEO phpBB || Search

Liens Utiles :
Forum référencement || Annuaire référencement || Référencement phpBB || Recherche
Posts: 21451
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:03 pm


Re: BB SEO Ultimate SEO URL Presentation

Postby dcz » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:58 am

  1. The Ultimate SEO URL : What is common to the three modes

    1. # Before you Start :

      • The phpBB SEO URL Rewriting solutions are using Apache's mod Rewrite. They by the way work nicely with IIS server running the isapi_rewrite module, just a matter of small adaptation in the httpd.ini.
        You can install them only if your forums is hosted on a server running Apache with themod_rewrite module loaded, or isapi_rewrite with IIS (some user have made the adaptation with lighthttpd).
        This is the first thing to check with your web-site's ISP.
      • Then you should read carefully what follows in order to chose the best possible mode for your needs.
        phpBB SEO is offering three modes because there is a need, each one of it has it's own pros and cons. And each one of it can appear to be the best one for your project's needs.
        First thing to do is then to understand what do each of them does, and what does it mean for admins and moderators.
      • More clues about URL rewriting:
        • phpBB vanilla URLs are looking like viewtopic.php?t=XX, where XX is the topic ID.
          When someone, bot or regular user, follow such link, PHP is directly able to grab the XX variable within the viewtopic.php file, and to select the proper topic to output.
        • mod_rewrite will make sure URLs like topicXX.html (or topic-title-tXX.html in case of title injection) will match the viewtopic.php's script with the t=XX variable.

          A Regular Expression (Reg-Ex) located in the .htaccess's RewriteRules will first "understand" that XX is in deed a topic ID (and not a forum one for example), because it "sees" that "topicXX" (topic([0-9]+), e.g. "topic" followed by a positive integer, here the topic ID) is part of the URL (or "-tXX" in case of title injection, e.g. "-t" followed by a positive integer, the topic ID).

          mod_rewrite will then end up its job and pass the XX variable directly to the right PHP script, without any need to load vanilla URLs.

          Of course, things are a little more complex (special cases, pagination etc ..) but the principle is here.
        • Now that we know that we can use different URLs than the vanilla phpBB ones, we have to change the way phpBB is building URLs.

          Most mod Rewrite for phpBB are using the PHP function ob_start() :
          This function will turn output buffering on. While output buffering is active no output is sent from the script (other than headers), instead the output is stored in an internal buffer.

          They thus proceed in a rather heavy way.
          The page is first build, then kept in RAM where the full output code is filtered through Regular Expressions (Reg-Ex), to match and rewrite phpBB URLs.
          Eventually the page get sent to the browser.

          When they perform a topic title injection they inject the html text link in url, meaning that there is no way to control that the text used in the link is the actual topic title to inject.

          In addition, such methods are not able to properly deal with pagination, when the title to inject is not available in the text link).

        The phpBB SEO Ultimate SEO URL mod does not use ob_start() and is achieving the same transformation in a rather lighter way.
        The transformation is performed within the phpBB's append_sid() function, used to build all outputted phpBB links before the page is ended.

        Each title is only formatted once, when injecting title, and each url is only rewritten once, no matter the amount of time it will be used in the page.

        Furthermore, forum and topic URL can be set up on a per case basis, allowing your to accurately chose the keywords to put in them independently from their respective title.

        And, whenever title are injected, this is achieved without any added SQL, unlike some other solutions using the append_sid() function as well.
        The required code changes are easy and very unlikely to cause any trouble in the phpBB code.
        The worst for this part is that some links may not be Rewritten when outputted by a non patched mod. But, patches are easy to build if not already done in phpBB SEO web-site.

        Then, and it's the more important for your forum as far as being well Ranked in Search Engine , the phpBB SEO mod rewrites outputs a lot less duplicates than phpBB, and, it is something to note, absolutely no duplicates for the phpBB pagination, forums and topics.
        The only type of duplicate that can be left at first are the post urls (viewtopic.php?p=XX <=> postxx.html) because these URLs may still be useful to some. But the no duplicate mod can get rid of them among the forum and topic pages, and the Zero duplicate mod will simply reduce (by HTTP 301 redirection) 100% of the possible duplicate in phpBB, so that you will be able to run a fully duplicate free phpBB.

        The www prefix issue is dealt with (using method n°2) by the embed .htaccess generator, but the rewriterules will be left commented int the .htaccess at first, since this is the kind of code one shall activate when he actually wants it to make sure that no surprise will occur.

        This SEO URL mod is of course compatible and auto detected by GYM Sitemaps & RSS by the way very useful to Search Engine Optimize your phpBB forums.
    2. # Title injection :

      • The phpBB SEO mod rewrites fully supports UTF-8.
        When injecting titles, the mod will only keep the possible ASCII Chars, after removing all accents, available in the keywords to inject in URL.
        Example :
        "نرم افزار - Software niño" will result in "software-nino"
        Additionally, any part of a title that will be in between "[" and "]" will not be injected :
        "[Version 5.554488]My superb software" will result in "my-superb-software"
      • The phpbb_seo class handles de-accentuation for most of the occidental characters, but you could need to handle more cases for your project.
        Starting from v0.6.0, we introduced a simple way to set up custom replacements.
        This is useful for special characters not properly handled by default, such as Russian ones (Г => G), or to implement custom replacements such as $ => dollar.
        It works with any string, but you MUST perform the edits with an UTF-8 (without BOM) capable text editor.
        This is done in phpbb_seo/includes/setup_phpbb_seo.php, and before :
        Code: Select all
              // Let's make sure that settings are consistent

        The principle is simple, you can set up your custom replacement by filling the phpbb_seo::url_replace array ($this->url_replace).
        The pattern to use is :
        Code: Select all
              $this->url_replace = array(
                 'character(s) to find' => 'replacement to apply',

        Example :
        Code: Select all
              $this->url_replace = array(
                 // Purely cosmetic replace
                 '$' => 'dollar', '€' => 'euro',
                 '\'s' => 's', // it's => its / mary's => marys ...
                 // Language specific replace (German example)
                 'ß' => 'ss',
                 'Ä' => 'Ae', 'ä' => 'ae',
                 'Ö' => 'Oe', 'ö' => 'oe',
                 'Ü' => 'Ue', 'ü' => 'ue',

        Just make sure that the characters you may add are not already handled properly by the default replacements before you add some more.
        Please note that English characters are already properly handled.
      • When you turn on the SQL rewriting option, you will be able to chose topic URL on a per case basis, no matter the URL standard used. This make the mixed mode with virtual folder option more powerful than ever, since you can keep static URL for most cases and use selected keywords for the more important threads.
        Enabling this option is optional, but even if you do not intend to set custom URLs for your threads, it still makes the rewriting process faster than ever. Turning on the SQL rewriting option will not change your topic URLs, it will only allow admins and moderators (of the concerned thread's forum) to do it on a per case basis while posting and editing topic first post.

        Please read the install file for more details.
    3. # The robots.txt :
      • The robots.txt is a simple text file listing instructions that Bots are supposed to follow.
        Major Search Engine Bots, such as Google-Bot, Yahoo!Slurp, MSNBot etc ... do follow those, and they are the ones we are really interested in.
      • These rules will allow us to prevent non SEOed URLs such as viewtopic.php?t=XX from appearing in the Search Engine Results, which concentrate your site limited PageRank value on the really interesting URLs.
      • In all cases, this file should be located in your domain's root physical folder (usually www/).
        The phpBB SEO Ultimate SEO URL mod comes with a specific robots.txt (in the contrib/ folder of the package) file to properly set up and upload.
        The paths must be set correctly for the robots.txt file to take effect.
      • If you are migrating from another mod rewrite for phpBB, some special adaptations may be necessary. The phpBB SEO team will help upon request posted in the forum.
      • IMPORTANT :
        • If your forum previously was indexed with the default phpBB URLs(viewtopic.php etc...), then do NOT install the phpBB SEO robots.txt. Our robots.txt will cause all those URLs to disappear from the search engines. If you did install it already, DELETE it now!
        • This because we want to redirect old urls before we disallow them, it's CRUCIAL!
          In such case, at least two month after you activated the zero duplicate, you can safely implement the robots.txt.
    4. # The .htaccess :

      • The ".htaccess" is a file containing the mod_rewrite's RewriteRules that will allow to catch modified URLs.
      • The Ultimate SEO URL mod comes with a friendly .htaccess generator accessible in the ACP.
        On the phpBB SEO ACP module, go to the ".htaccess" page.
        A personalised .htaccess will be generated. It's the first one to consider trying.
        You will have too put it where the red bolded messages of the .htaccess generator tells you to.
        If you cannot find the location mentioned, it means that you did not properly set your phpBB server settings in the ACP.
        If the default suggestion does not work, you will be to try more options, and generate several alternative.
        You'll find an empty .htaccess file in this mod's archive contrib/ folder, you can use it to paste the .htaccess content generated on the htaccess page or save it directly on the server (saved .htaccess will be found in the phpbb/cache/ directory).

        The .htaccess generator will add the required rewriterules to make your domain canonical, but they will be left commented (un-active) at first, as this is the kind of thing that require human attention.
        Please take a look at Locking the www in urls to find out how to lock the use (or non use) of the www prefix in your domain's url.
        This is a major Search Engine Optimisation issue to take care of the www prefix issue.

        Please Note :
        • It is sometime impossible to create a file named with a "." at the beginning using windows. And thus impossible to create a file named ".htaccess".
        • You may need to first name it "htaccess.txt", while you edit it and upload it on your ftp.
          You will then be able to rename it to ".htaccess" and to "activate" it.
    5. # Migration :

      • Migrating from vanilla phpBB URLs to URL rewritten URLs is as easy as installing / activating the Zero duplicate (with the post redirection set to at least "guest") and to wait at least two months to think about implementing the robots.txt.
      • It is of course possible and quite easy to migrate from any other mod rewrite for phpBB. You basically will just need to keep the required Rewriterules up and running for you old rewritten URLs, usually at the end of your new .htaccess, to work, just as before. And then to install / activate the Zero duplicate mod (with the post redirection set to at least "guest").
        But this should not be done incautiously, do not hesitate to post in the mod rewrite mode you'd be using to get helped.
      • In most cases it will be possible to either adapt the phpBB SEO mod Rewrites to keep your actual URL Standard and end up with a faster code with no pagination duplicates, or to set up appropriated 301 redirections and go for the phpBB SEO URL standards.
      • In all cases something is to be done not to jeopardize what's already well Ranked.
    6. # Support :

      • Support for usage and install, including .htaccess setup, must be asked for in the forum of the mode you are using (simple, mixed or advanced).
      • Please use an appropriate and descriptive title when posting a new topic.
      • Support for particular cases (sub-domains, working together with other mod rewrites ...) should be asked for in a dedicated thread, in the phpbb-mod-rewrite/.
        Please use the search functions to first check if you problem is not already solved somewhere.
        Please note that if phpBB is installed in a sud-domain, this sub-domain is it's actual domain, the only one to care about.
    7. # Why asking for a link ?

      • This project's main philosophy is to allow everybody to obtain good results in Search Engines. We provide solutions and advices to Search Engine Optimize your web-site in general with emphasis on phpBB.
      • phpBB SEO solutions are really working, and will, if only you offer some content, greatly, if not totally change the way your site appears in Search Engines Results.
      • Example are many on this forum, showing how well our members website got better Ranked, indexed and started showing up at better position in search engines, with significant increase in visitors.
      • phpBB SEO is the first, and as far as we know, the only website to offer to everybody a free, easy to use and personalized URL rewriting solutions, which together with the zero duplicate makes phpBB the only duplicate free forum.
        Our goal is to dev as many tools and module as possible, all compatible with the phpBB SEO mod rewrites, whatever the chosen standard.
      • As time passed and this link was added on many site, we where able to release new modules such as GYM sitemaps & RSS, building and caching Google Sitemaps (united 0.9), RSS 2.0 feeds and generating html news and map pages with many possibilities
      • This to tell that a link back is not that much for so much ;)
        We, the phpBB SEO mod user and developer, need this site to stay long for the mod to still be updated, for our project's best.
        The phpBB SEO web-site will itself, while being well Ranked, give you back very good quality BackLinks, from several domains and sub-domains (forums, directories, etc ..) and using several languages, which is a plus.
      • If you do not want to provide with a linkback to us, you will find that support will not be offered to you here. You may find yourself smart enough not to need suport, but please note that all this is done for free, and that a lot of time was spent to offer you all this, which you should just consider respecting.
Useful links :
SEO Forum || SEO Directory || SEO phpBB || Search

Liens Utiles :
Forum référencement || Annuaire référencement || Référencement phpBB || Recherche
Posts: 21451
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:03 pm

Re: BB SEO Ultimate SEO URL Presentation

Postby dcz » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:58 am

The three different URL rewriting modes

Please Note :
It is useful to read carefully what follows, this will help you out choosing the best Search Engine Optimization solution for your particular phpBB forum.
In almost all case our advice goes for the phpBB SEO Mixed mod Rewrite with virtual folder, because it is efficient and easy to handle.

  1. # The Simple mode :

    • This is our simple solution. Efficient, worry free and ready for any char-set.
      Many websites obtain very decent results with this type of static rewrite method, far better than without any URL rewriting. Additionally, this mode allows you to set custom URLs for you important topics using our SQL rewrite option.
  2. # The Mixed mode :

    • This mod is more efficient than the Simple one, because forum names will be injected in their URLs and as easy to use because the topics URLs will stays statically rewritten. Together with the virtual folder option, it's the mode everyone should consider using, especially since we introduced the SQL Rewriting option. We do not give you a wrong advice here, it's the mode actually in use in phpBB SEO.
    • You can chose Keywords to be used in your forums URLs, which is a great Search Engine Optimization, and you do not have to worry too much about your members posting very bad titles. And you still can add selected keywords into important threads urls on a per case basis with the SQL rewriting option.
      Because we only want good keywords in our URLs.
  3. # The phpBB SEO Advanced mode :

    • To be used with caution. Topic titles will be, after they have passed through the phpBB's censoring check (at least with phpBB SEO official patches) injected in their URLs.
      This means that unlike the Mixed one where only the admin can select the keyword to use, members will be the one to choose the topic titles, and thus the keywords injected by default into topic urls, especially if you activate the SQL rewriting option since you would then still be able to put selected keywords in your most important topic URLs.
    • This method would be, for example, perfect for a forum not allowing user to start new threads, or only trusted members.
      It requires an active moderation and strict rules for topic titles, if the forum is more open.
      Because you don't want to end up with 80% of your topic URLs being like "oh-this-is-so-cool-i-can-t-believe-it-tXX.html", this would end up not optimizing anything anymore.
    • So this is something that can end up to be tricky to use in some cases.
      That's what you should think about before going online with it.
    • Then, for sure, when properly used on an appropriate forum, this one is very efficient.
      A functionality will help you out a lot though, anything in the topic titles in between "[" and "]" won't show up in the URL.
      For example, this topic title :
      Code: Select all
      "[on the 2/05/06 weather is nice] Search Engine Optimizing phpBB Forums"

      Will result in this URL :
      Code: Select all

      And admins and moderators will still be able to set personalized URL for each topic with the SQL rewriting option.
  4. # The modes :

Useful links :
SEO Forum || SEO Directory || SEO phpBB || Search

Liens Utiles :
Forum référencement || Annuaire référencement || Référencement phpBB || Recherche
Posts: 21451
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:03 pm

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