Benefits of XenForo Prefixes

  • Thread starter JGaulard
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May 5, 2021
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Here's the situation. I run a few different web discussion boards set up to be used as classifieds sites. I use XenForo for these forums and some of my sites have many listings. One of the issues I'm running into has to do with crawlability by search engines. I'll use Google as an example here because that seems to be the search engine that matters most. Bing is great, but it only sends a fraction of the traffic that Google does.

If you've been in the world of web design and content creation for more than a few months, you'll know what pagination is. If you don't know, it's when lists of content are broken up into pages as opposed to one giant diatribe of information. Pagination makes huge amounts of data much more easily readable for human beings. Here's a nice example of what pagination looks like on a category, forum, or list page:


Now, there are two inherent issues that come along with pagination. First, users rarely click past page one or two and second, search engines rarely crawl all the pages in the paginated sequence. The crawl levels are simply too deep and there's not enough Pagerank to motivate the crawler to continue on the given path. The example graphic I posted above contains only 25 pages, which equals probably about six or seven levels of page depth. Google may or may not crawl all of them. Users are less likely to click through all of them either. What the users will do is likely use the search feature of a forum to locate the information they seek. But for those who don't want to or know how to search, what will they do? Leave the site, most likely. Unless you've got an extremely sticky website, there's a good chance that visitors won't hang around for very long after they've hit a bump in the road. This is a challenge that we as website owners and operators face every day.

One of the methods I've employed as an attempt to solve both of the above issues has been to add sub-forums to a parent forum list. Sub-forums are great for stimulating search engine crawling because they reduce crawl/click depth for the related threads, but they haven't proven the best method for real world human usability. What's worse is that because threads that are contained in sub-forums don't appear in the parent forum as well, many users miss a lot of information if they don't click everywhere. It's a shame because my websites have got tons of excellent threads. So really, my challenge is to find a way to make both the user and search engines happy.

There are many options for locating information (threads and posts) when it comes to the XenForo platform. I can create forums, sub-forums, search forums, tags, and prefixes to help with visitor navigation. As far as prefixes go, they're excellent. If applied to threads, they essentially filter the list to show only those threads with the same prefix. For example, if someone came to my website PetClassifieds.US and was looking for a white Siberian Husky, they'd have over 20 pages of Huskies to choose from. I tried to break them down by coat color in sub-forums, but again, that's not great for human navigation. I'm not even sure it's good for search engine crawling because the sub-forum pages have titles such as White, Black & White, Grey & White, etc... Those aren't exactly valuable keywords when it comes to search engine optimization. They do lead Googlebot down a pretty good path though and get the associated threads the Pagerank they need.

I'll continue to deal with search engine crawling, but for now, I'll put my efforts towards usability. Take a look at what I just did:


Do you see that Black & White button? For those who are logged into the website as members, that button will be a link. Let's say there are 100 Siberian Husky ads and five of them are for Huskies that are black and white. Those black and white listings will have the Black & White prefix attached to them. If the button is clicked, all other ads in that particular forum will disappear and all that will be left are the ones with that prefix. So basically, XenForo prefixes are filters.

For those visitors who aren't logged in as members, they can accomplish the same filtering through a drop-down. Take a look:


That's pretty cool. I think if the appropriate prefixes were added to all of the different breed forums, users would have a great way of finding all they're looking for. This, coupled with the search feature and perhaps tags in the future, would be perfect.

Now, there is one caveat; these prefixes come standard with the software as links for all website visitors, whether they're logged in as members or not. I've changed the coinciding page templates to remove the links because they have the tendency to negatively affect my SEO efforts. So for those who aren't logged in, they'll need to use the drop-down filter option rather than the clickable prefix button.

Let me know what you think about this navigation option. I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks!
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