Vanilla Forums
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SEO and Vanilla by Higher Logic

3 minute read

September 9, 2021

There is a feature that Vanilla lacks and it's one that we get asked about all the time. Vanilla lacks an SEO plugin. We don't have one because SEO is built into our platform and we don't think you should have to pay extra for something as fundamental as good SEO. 

Here are some of the ways your Vanilla is optimized out of the box for SEO:

  • We follow industry best practices and advice from market leaders such as Google, using their SEO quality guidelines.

  • Our HTML5 markup is clean and minimal, to make your content easy to parse.

  • We use canonical URLs in our markup to avoid duplicate content issues.

  • We use paging (not infinite scroll), because we feel this gives your content a reliable URL.

  • If you are migrating from another platform, we make sure your content gets 301 redirects so that no SEO rankings are lost.

  • We obsess over page load times, a critical SEO ranking factor, and we are continually working to make your content load faster.

  • We offer domain masking at the sever level, so your forum gets full SEO benefit.

  • We use structured data using JSON-LD, and are adding more items as appropriate.

  • We have an add on that creates an XML sitemap, but even without it, search engines will be able to easily crawl your site without issue.

Vanilla works to ensure the best white-hat practices are followed. We are very careful in not trying experimental features that can harm any of our customers ranking. We have been doing this for 10 years and communities powered on our platform rank very well without any SEO trickery.

How can you make SEO work better with Vanilla?

There are also a couple of things you can do to ensure Vanilla Forums is performing as best as it can:

  • Fill in banner settings. When you start out, with Vanilla Forums, in the appearance area, enter a Home Page Title and Site Description. These are the elements which will appear in Google or Bing Search, for your homepage.

    SEO backend of Vanilla platform, SEO best practices

 

  • You do not need to add Meta tags to your theme for titles or description. They will be auto-generated by the content from your forum.

  • Create SEO-aligned category names, when you are setting up your categories.

  • Have an involved community manager edit discussion titles - when appropriate - to make it clearer what content a member will find. For example, changing a discussion title from "help!" to something more descriptive.

  • You can add alt-tags to images you add- which is great for accessibility and SEO!

  • When it comes to migrations, we recommend using Google Webmaster Tools. This can help identify any problems that can be dealt with in the week following the transition.

Final thoughts on SEO and Vanilla 

The best advice for SEO is simply that you and your community continue to create fresh, engaging and well-labelled content.  An involved community manager can help in guiding these efforts, but rest assured that we have you covered for the majority of your SEO needs without needing to configure anything or worry about an expensive SEO add-on. If you are looking for other ways to improve your SEO check out this article, where I delve even deeper into what a community manager and SEO team needs to know.

eBook SEO

If you'd like to learn more about how Vanilla does SEO, check out our docs here!

Product

Adrian Speyer

Written by Adrian Speyer

Adrian Speyer is the Head of Community and Lead Evangelist for Vanilla Forums. Besides spending many years in digital marketing, Adrian has been building communities of all sizes for over 20 years.

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