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Discussion in 'Notices & Announcements' started by Admin, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. Admin

    Admin Forum Administrator
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    Other than word of mouth and mentions in social media, one of the ways in which a forum can attract new members is to come up within the first couple of pages of search results from Google, Bing and Yahoo. In order for that to be an accurate predictor, it is necessary to figure out what search terms someone is likely to use if they are looking for what we've got. If you were looking for a forum for people who were fifty years old or older, which words would you enter into a search engine? Here are a few that I have been tracking, as well as our positions in the search engine result pages (SERPs), with Google being the most important search engine, followed by Bing and then Yahoo, as far as the number of people who use them. I don't look beyond the twentieth result because people rarely look beyond the first two pages of results.

     
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  2. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    Yep I search for Over 50's discussion forum

    ..or over 50's Chat forum ( and sometimes add country specific)
     
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  3. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    I don't really know anything about how search engine rankings actually work Ken, but I understand that Google themselves can skew the results to favour sites paying for ads with them, though that may only be a rumour?

    I found this forum by word of mouth, and have noticed that if I did search for forums this one didn't often come up in the first page of results. I use the words senior and forums mainly, and sometimes add words like best, reviews or list etc. I have rarely used the words Club or only.
    I don't usually add Over 50 either as that doesn't seem needed if you use senior which to me would be older than fifty or even 60, :rolleyes: that though is possibly because I am in my 70s.

    I do notice the other two forums I have joined seniorforums and Buzz50 usually come top or high up on the listings, whatever words I use
    Can you improve the search rankings in some way by using keywords or the equivalent of tags that you put on photos?

    I guess if you do get higher up the search list and attract a lot more members the quality could drop, because they are not being introduced by the current membership, which I consider to be the cream of the seniors culled from other forums.
     
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  4. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    It all depends what you want in a forum. I prefer quality people over quantity. I really like knowing all the people I'm talking to and not just answering questions on different subjects.

    A few more members here and I would consider this the perfect forum....I don't come on here with a knot in my stomach because someone is attacking me for my views.

    What do you want for this forum, Ken?

    I've searched many forums and there really isn't too many good ones.. SF used to be good but there are cliques now and heaven help you if you say the wrong thing, lol.
     
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  5. Bonnie Thomas

    Bonnie Thomas Very Well-Known Member
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    As the newest newbie here, I only found my way to the board by a friend's suggestion.
    Searches never brought it up.
     
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  6. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Yes, that's how I found this forum also, Bonnie.
     
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  7. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    I agree with all you say here Chrissy, SF went to the dogs and Buzz50 is simply too successful and large to feel part of. I think Ken's mainly hands off approach works well, treat people like adults and they usually behave that way.

    I do prefer the layout/software that SF uses though, it seems easier to negotiate somehow, but that's a minor niggle :rolleyes:
     
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  8. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
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    Yes Bonnie I feel word of mouth works very well, you are a welcome new member of the Crème de la Crème

    wsw.jpg
     
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It has been a few years since I have done anything other than sporadic advertising with Google. At the time, it seemed to have the opposite effect, as the sites that I was advertising on AdWords seemed to drop in their natural positions in the search engine results. I got the idea that they decided that if my sites came up high naturally, I might quit advertising.

    I do get some visits from people searching on terms that include the word "only" as well as "club" but, for the latter at least, I suspect they might be people who have been here before and remember the name but didn't save the URL. When a web site is new, it is hard to compete for the more common search terms so it is good practice to try to rank on some of the less competitive search terms. With less competition, a site can compete in these search terms and get visits from those who do use them.

    "Over 50" and "over fifty" are very competitive, actually. A lot of people do search on them, and there are a lot of sites competing for them. Among the variables that affect the SERPs in all of the search engines, particularly Google, are longevity and domain specificity. Sites that have been around longer are more likely to show up in searches, and sites that include the search phrase in the name tend to do better than those that don't. Although some of the search engine gurus claim that domain specificity is no longer effective in Google, a look a the results show that it is. Since "seniors only" is in my domain name, I tend to do well on searches using those terms, and have almost from the beginning.

    On the other hand, it's hard to compete with sites that have been around for several years. Seniorforums.com has history as an active domain in 2003 and 2004. Then it seems to have died out and the domain was probably purchased by the current owners in 2011 since it shows up again in early 2012. Buzz50.com has been around since 2007, so those two domains have several years on us, as SENIORSonly.club began in January of last year.

    That doesn't mean that I can't compete with them, but that it's harder to do so. My wife and I both did search engine optimization for a living before they had a name for it, so I know how to do it. If I wanted to compete in a hurry, there would be a monetary cost but, for this forum, I don't intend to make any money off of it so I am not inclined to spend a lot of money on it. We have a good group of people right now, so there's no big rush to get bigger. Besides, forums that grow too quickly sometimes implode.

    So I will just be doing things that don't cost a lot of money, since I am confident that we will slowly climb our way into the first couple of pages of the SERPs without a paid campaign. I have paid to place the forum in some of the more reputable directories, but I'm not going to use AdWords or pay-per-click schemes. As a caveat, from time to time I get coupons from Google for a free $50 or $100 worth of advertising, so I might use them every now and then.

    It is safer to let a site place well naturally. Interestingly, Google sometimes penalizes domains for participating in paid link schemes while, at the same time, running AdWords, which is itself a paid link scheme. In reality, they like to scare people away from using someone else's paid linking schemes. Anyhow, this forum is being spidered constantly, and I have noticed that we've already been linked to and mentioned in a few blog entries here and there, and we've been steadily moving up even in some of the more competitive search phrases.

    This thread itself is a part of the plan since, by mentioning the search phrases that I am targeting in a natural way, they will be indexed by the search engine spiders, which will itself help us to rank for these search terms. I thought some of you might find it interesting to see how the rankings change over time. There will be fluctuations, up and down, but I trust we'll gradually do better.

    I don't want people to attack others for stating their views. As long a differing viewpoint is seen as a challenge rather than a threat, we'll do okay. To answer your real question though, I want this forum to remain a comfortable place for people to be. However, every web site owner hopes that their site will become more popular, and I am not any different in that. Since all of us have interests that differ from other people, the more people we have the more likely we are to find people with similar interests. When a forum grows gradually, I don't think that it has to get out of hand, and I certainly wouldn't want it to.

    @Terry Page, Seniorforums.com uses vBulletin, which is one of the older active forum softwares. When I was deciding which software to use, that is one of the software programs that I considered using. However, a lot of longtime vBulletin users were unhappy with its latest update, and a lot of them were migrating to Xenforo. In the end, since I couldn't decide which I liked better, I opted for the one that was less expensive.
     
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  10. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    SF has gone down a lot in members and lurkers. When I first joined in 2013 there would be 30 people online at one time and 800+ lurkers and bots.

    Now there usually is only a handful, maybe 15 on a good day and guests and bots are about 200 and this is fairly consistent and I look every day.

    They might have a huge member list but it's the same people posting every day and it isn't that many really.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Yeah, since there's no real downside to it, other than increasing expectations, a lot of people never purge their member list, so there might be people who haven't logged onto the forum in years. I haven't purged our list either, but we've only been around for a year. Next year, I'll probably purge the ones who haven't logged in during the past year.
     
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  12. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    image.jpg I know quite a few conservatives from an old forum I used to be on, I'll mention this forum to them.

    One of them, Maria even had her own forum for awhile, Yankee Patriot on proboards.

    In fact she is more than just conservative. I also have some very nice liberal friends from a forum 11 years ago.

    This is Maria. :)

    John (Falcon) knows all these people also and would recommend them highly I'm sure. We all started out on a forum called Wired Seniors about 12 yrs ago. It was a huge forum, I've never come across a forum that was set up in the way this one was. One day it just closed.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Liberals are welcome too. In fact, if we're honest with ourselves, most of us have things that we are conservative about, and others in which we are liberal.
     
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  14. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I know I do, Ken. We have some wonderful liberals on here already.
     
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  15. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I think having a mix makes for interesting dialog unless one wants to be confrontational.
     
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  16. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I agree, Shirley. It's just the name calling and nastiness I can't abide and thankfully we don't have that here.
     
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The one thing that forum members can do to help boost the forum's ranking in the SERPs is to choose titles for threads that represent the actual topic of the thread, and to stay on topic. That last part is harder to do, I know, and I am guilty of going off-topic from time to time too, since that's the way that normal conversation goes, so I don't harp too much on that. I'd rather have real conversation that SEO-ready text, anyhow.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
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  18. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I'm very guilty of that and always have been, mainly because I see topics as conversation and sometimes conversations go off track,

    I can understand the topic title being important but what does going off topic have to do with forum ranking?
     
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  19. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Search engines use automated processes to determine what a web page is about. The algorithm gives more weight to the text in titles than that of the body of the page, but if the body of the page does not appear to be about the same thing, the search engine has no way to reference it.

    Think of it as a filing cabinet before things went digital. In a large company, each cabinet might be labeled according to the types of information that is to be stored there. That would be the equivalent of the forum itself, which is entitled SENIORSonly Club. The search engine would recognize the three words: seniors, only, and club. Google, being more sophisticated than the others, is beginning to recognize synonyms as well.

    Let's imagine that the company had filing cabinets representing each of its clients. If a filing cabinet were labeled with the name of a specific client, but the filing folders and papers within it consisted of stuff that had nothing to do with that client, it would be pretty much useless to anyone. There too, if the content of this forum had nothing to do with seniors, only, or club, then the search engines might have trouble knowing what it is really about, and might just decide that it's useless. This is part of the reason why many of the pages that come up when someone is searching on topics relating to seniors are pages that are entirely about seniors, such as nursing homes, senior care services, etc. However, although it is not in the title, most of the other sites that link to SENIORSonly Club use the word "forum" in the link or within the text surrounding the link, so the search engines recognize that it is a forum. I am sure that the algorithm recognizes the forum software platform, as well. So, the forum (as a whole) is likely to come up on searches using words that include "seniors" and "seniors only," particularly when used with "forum," including synonyms.

    However, we talk about a lot of things here that are not specifically about seniors.

    Going back to the filing cabinet example, the information filed within each filing cabinet would be kept in file folders, which are also labeled. These are, in the order of significance given them by the search engine algorithms, the categories, sub-forums, and thread titles. When the sub-forums and the threads within them are related to the category name and description, the search engine knows what they are about, and is more likely to return these pages when someone is searching for information on the topics discussed there.

    Someone who might be interested in any of the topics that we discuss here, but not specifically as they relate to seniors, might use search words that related to these topics. When things are well organized here, those internal pages might come up in the first couple of pages of their searches as well.

    To answer your question about remaining on topic, imagine that a thread is started in the "Pets & Critters" sub-forum, and the thread is given a title that includes the words "Springer Spaniels." As long as the posts within that thread are indeed about topics relating to Springer Spaniels, then the search engines will index that thread under the heading of "Springer Spaniels" and when someone is searching for information about Springer Spaniels, depending on the amount of competition for that search term, that thread might come up. The longer the thread is, as long as it remains on the topic of Springer Spaniels, the more weight the search engine algorithms will give to it, as long as the words used aren't copied from somewhere else.

    However, if someone were to post in that thread saying, "I like Springer Spaniels but I really prefer Pit Bulls," and then everyone started talking about Pit Bulls instead, the search engines wouldn't know what the thread was about. It would, no doubt, realize that it was about dogs but "dogs" is too general of a term for the thread to every show up in anyone's searches.

    This is why when I notice a clear topic change, I will split the thread off, creating a new one about Pit Bulls. But that's harder to do when everyone else chimes in with various other breeds of dogs. The consequences are that, while the thread may have been of interest to those who were participating in it, that thread is not going to attract anyone new to the forum through searches.

    As the administrator, I try to arrive at a balance that works, and that's not always easy. If, as you may have seen on some other forums, I were to be heavy handed about it and scold people or send warnings to people about posting off-topic messages, they'd just get mad and not post anything at all, and that wouldn't be much of a help. If I kept nagging about it, even if I tried to be nice, people might not be having any fun anymore, and that would lead to the same results.

    So instead, I make a point of mentioning it every now and then in threads like this, but otherwise allow conversation to flow naturally. This forum has been here for a year and I have never sent anyone a warning about posting off-topic. If I were to do that, then someone would be sure to point out that some of my own posts are off-topic as well because, like you, I want to enjoy myself here and there are times when off-topic posts just seem to flow naturally. I do try to make a point of bringing it back on topic with a paragraph at the end, when I do that, but I don't want to sacrifice the natural flow of conversation to the search engine gods.

    I have split a few threads up and I have merged a few threads, but only when I can see a clear departure point in the topic. Others, I have just left go, knowing that these threads won't do us any good in the search engines, but that forum members are having fun with it. When I do split or merge threads, I mention it, not in the way of reprimanding anyone but so that they aren't left confused, wondering what happened to their post or their thread.

    I try to maintain a balance that doesn't overly annoy anyone, but which will still result in some new people being able to find us from time to time. I am not always consistent and I'm not great at it, but I do try not to be too annoying.
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    In the "Jobs I Have Had" sub-forums, I have created threads for various jobs that I have held in my lifetime, and have started to create threads about places I have lived in that sub-forum. Perhaps some of you might be interested in this stuff, so I had that reason for posting it, but I also enjoyed reviewing these periods in my life. An ulterior motive, however, had to do with search engine optimization. Some of these companies no longer exist, and have not existed for years. Because the companies are no longer around, there aren't a lot of other web sites on the Internet mentioning them. Yet people, like me, who have worked for these companies might, at some point, enter the company name into a search engine and, since these companies haven't been around in a long time, these people are all over fifty. Since they may know me, or at least have that one thing in common with me, perhaps they'll decide to join the forum. As an example, try entering "Klenk Chemical Company" into a search engine field.

    The same could be accomplished in the "Restaurant Reviews" sub-forum, particularly when reviews are made of independent restaurants. Since they may not even have their own web page, these will be keyword searches that we could easily compete with.
     
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  21. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Ah I see now why admins like to keep on topic. :)

    I will try ...at least in the title specific posts. Then though don't you have the problem of a topic not having many replies? You might have only 2 people adding to Springer Spaniels. I don't know what is better, lots of topics or topics with lots of replies?

    I don't know the search engine end of it but when looking for a forum I like to see ones that have many replies to a topic. Just my opinion though and everybody is different in what they are looking for in a forum.

    On the topic of jobs I've had I just want to mention that my job with ES&S the letters are all capital.

    Would it have been better to post my job as ES&S voting machines? Since there are only about 2 voting machine companies in the US. ES&S and their competitor Diebold? :)
     
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  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    For that particular topic, a very short thread about Springer Spaniels would be buried by all of the web sites of the breeders, the dog show people, and the Springer Spaniel fanatics, whereas a very long and informative thread might have a chance eventually, probably years after we've quit discussing it here. Generally though, short pages that remain on topic are better than long pages that are not on topic, but long pages that remain on topic are better yet. I work web directories for a living, so I have searched on pretty much every topic imaginable and it is not at all unusual for me to find a very brief, but on-topic, page appearing on page one of the search engines. Forums have an advantage in SEO because we have new content every day, and practically every hour. In the past year, I can't think of more than a couple of times when there were no search engine spiders here, so we feed the spiders well. There are twelve here right now.
     
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  23. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Yes, I do notice a lot every time I look. Sometimes I even like to see what they are viewing.
     
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  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Strictly from an SEO standpoint, the best thing would be to refer to it by its long name in the title: Election Systems & Software and then refer to it within the body of the thread by the acronym. In the case of that company, the search engines will have already spidered the company site and will automatically make that connection. When you include a link to the company site, you cement that connection. When potential keywords are used in the title, they are given more weight, but only as long as it doesn't look forced. Titles consisting of a list of keywords would not do well since Google's automated processes might record that as an attempt to cheat the search algorithm. I wouldn't complain, however you chose to do it.

    It's easy to cheat Bing and Yahoo. I could probably get a web site to the top of Bing and Yahoo in a month but the things that I would do to manipulate Bing and Yahoo would likely result in the site being banned by Google, so they work well together in that way. It's best not to manipulate them, but to simply do the things that are likely to have good results eventually.
     
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  25. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Did you edit my title? I just tried to change it and take out the ES&S and just put Election Systems and Software but it's too late to edit for me. I don't remember having that in my title, just ES&S but I could be wrong, I tend to forget what I did or didn't do.

    I'm a very spur of the moment poster and never think things through, just post. I need to slow down and think sometimes. :)

    Most of the time though it's because I'm posting on the go or multitasking.
     
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