vBSEO: Two Case Studies

July 26, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz

It’s no secret that I have a thing for forums. I currently run 10 active forums, and have domains and plans for others as well. I run vBulletin on all my sites and have owned probably 15+ licenses. I have my preferred plug-in’s that I use and love, and tweak the settings to my taste.

Thus, it may be of no surprise that I’m very comfortable with vBulletin. However, one plug-in that I’ve never used has been the SEO plug-in, vBSEO. Now, I’ve certainly heard of vBSEO, but never gave it a chance as I always felt that vBulletin came well optimized “out-of-the-box”. While I still believe that to be true, if vBSEO can improve on that, that’s all that really matters.

So, I spent a good number of hours yesterday researching whether I should buy vBSEO. Because, at $169 per license, it is certainly not free. I Googled for reviews of the plug-in online, and then read some of the testimonials at their site.

Here are a few of them:

vBSEO Helps Forum Earn $100/day in Ad Revenue (Not my favourite since he converted to vB too, not just vBSEO)

The Fastest Way to $20K with vBSEO – The FireBlades Story (“…Prior to installing vBSEO, Keith was earning $5 or less a day in AdSense revenue. Within about 8 months of vBSEO optimization, the forum earnings shot up by a factor of between 10-15x times. Keith went from earning $90-$150/month to averaging around $1500/month with vBSEO installed…”)

But my favourite area that helped me decide whether or not to try vBSEO was their vBSEO Reviews section, where they invite vBSEO users to post their own experiences. Many users took this opportunity to track their own case studies with vBSEO on their forums. Browsing through a dozen or so threads, I found that the vast majority of vBSEO users are extremely happy with it and would never run a forum without it now that they’ve used it.

So, I decided to finally try vBSEO by buying two licenses. I will document the effects here, probably once a month, to see how much vBSEO helps (or doesn’t help) my sites.

Since I am unsure as to how vBSEO will affect my sites, I am running them on one of my medium forums and one of my small but growing forums. If the results prove to be good, I will purchase licenses for my other sites. The two forums I’m using for the case studies are: www.Starcraft2.net and www.MMAForums.net.

To analyze the results, I will be tracking the indexed pages and SERP results from Google, Yahoo, and MSN, as well as the direct organic Google and Yahoo referral traffic.

Here is the starting data (that will ultimately be compared against) I took yesterday (July 24th)- before installing vBSEO:

Starcraft2.net

Traffic:

Jun 23 – July 23
Google Organic: 211
Yahoo Organic: 50

Indexed Pages:

Google: 92
MSN: 25
Yahoo/Fast/Altavista: 94

SERP Results:

— = Not in the first 200 results
G = Google
M = MSN
Y = Yahoo!

“starcraft 2″ G —  M — Y 31
“starcraft2″ G — M — Y 24
“starcraft forums” G 79  M — Y 9
“starcraft forum” G — M — Y 7
“starcraft2 forum” G 37 M 81 Y 4
“starcraft2 forums” G 46 M — Y 1
“starcraft 2 forums” G 48 M — Y 4
“starcraft” G — M –Y —

MMAForums.net

Traffic:

Jun 23 – July 23
Google Organic: 2349
Yahoo Orgnaic: 33

Indexed Pages:

Google: 4,230
MSN: 94
Yahoo/Fast/Altavista: 3,094

SERP Results:

— = Not in the first 200 results
G = Google
M = MSN
Y = Yahoo!

“mma forums” G 4 M — Y 57
“mma forum” G 32 Y 126 M — 
“ufc forums” G 17 M — Y —
“mma” G 111 M — Y —
A couple hours ago I installed vBSEO on Starcraft2.net. The installation was fast and easy, and what I like is that vBSEO doesn’t seem to modify any existing files – all the files you upload are new, special vBSEO files. And when I was finished, the default “out-of-the-box” version instantly transfored my site into a SEO-friendly site. Take a look for yourself: www.Starcraft2.net.

My sub-forum URL’s now look like http://www.starcraft2.net/starcraft-2/ and threads like http://www.starcraft2.net/starcraft-2/58-major-terran-updates.html and this was all done instantly for me after installation.

I’m now going to install it on www.MMAForums.net and then set it up to SEO the vBadvanced plugin I have on SC2.net. After that I’m going to read more on the advanced features I can use. Because, why vBSEO can be installed and have your forum completely SEO’ed in 5-minutes, the actual vBSEO control panel offers a scary amount of features and tweaks that you can play around with.

 I’ll let you guys know how vBSEO affects my SEO and traffic in a month from now!

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Posted: July 26th, 2007 under My Websites  

20 Responses to “vBSEO: Two Case Studies”

  1. Dan Neumann says:

    About damn time. ;) Check out my forum that’s linked from my username (roleplayerguild.com). It’s over 2 weeks old and already boasts Threads: 102, Posts: 753, Members: 48 which I find quite successful from my experience. I’ve had vbSEO installed from day one and everything’s being crawled very nicely.

    Make sure you’re using the sitemap plugin as well (available from vbseo downloads section). My Google cached page is updated really frequently and I attribute that to the sitemap generator which autosubmits itself to Google upon change.

    I ended up using vbseo.com’s style of redirection with their directory looking URLs. I was thinking of including the subforum name in the URL but decided that the focus will always be on the threadtitle, so I left my links as roleplayerguild.com/f4/this-is-a-thread-8/. I find that to be most elegant with most focus on the threadtitle and not the intermediate forum name.

    Some of vbseo’s features hit me later. When a URL is posted in a post, vbseo automatically rewrites the anchor text as the URL target’s Title. Also, it passed through outbound links through a redirect terminal e.g. roleplayerguild.com/redirect?http://tylercruz.com which is really useful.

    Good luck with it. I just now started an excel spreadsheet tracking indexed count and inlink count in Google and Yahoo after reading this post.

  2. Good luck with vbseo Tyler. I’ve never used vb before but I’ve heard about vbseo and how
    it helped a few people with their SEO. I have one question though: how do you start a forum?
    I mean how do you get the first few posts started?

    • The best way to get the first few posts started is to write them yourself! Starting any online community is a mammoth task – be prepared for a lot of hard work, but focus on creating content.

      I have a blog offering tips and advice on community building that may help – just click my user name.

      – Martin Reed

  3. fumbler says:

    Looking forward to seeing the results you achieve from doing this. With you being someone who’s stated you’ve not really into SEO’ing your sites, I’m interested to see how this case study may or may not change that. oh, and with your ability to swing deals with folks, let us know if they’re willing to discount more on bigger orders of the software ;o)

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Yup, they do give bulk orders.. on your 3rd purchase you get $10 off, then I believe on your 6th you get another $10 off.

      However, since I might buy 10 or so licenses at once, one of the guys there said to contact him privately to work a better deal :)

  4. ChrisGuthrie says:

    You should expect a big spike in search engine indexing after about a month. I’ve had vBSEO installed on one of my forums for a little over three months now and went from 30,000+ results to well over 200,000+ results using a site:gamingvidz.com search for Google.

    If you, or anyone else for that matter, are interested in reading the two case studies I’ve been doing on vBSEO for several months now click my name (I primarily blog about running forums). Below I’ve posted a couple of the milestone posts in my vBSEO studies:

    3 Month Mark for GamingVidz.com vBSEO study
    2 Month Mark for HaloBoards.com vBSEO study

    Overall, I like vBSEO a lot and as long as you have the sitemap plugin installed as well (which I see you mentioned in the comments) you’ll be pleased with the results.

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      Hehe,

      I am very familiar with your name from vBSEO’s forums Chris, from reading hundreds/thousands of posts there in the past couple days.. ;)

      After only a day I’ve already noticed 1000 more indexed pages for one of my sites, and the other site has apparantly doubled it’s organic Google referrals.. but of course this is only based off of 1 day’s data so far ;)

      • ChrisGuthrie says:

        Lol, yah. Whenever I try doing something new I like to know as much as I can about it (much like I see the way you are). So I spent a lot of time on vBSEO’s forums asking for help with CRR’s (custom rewrite rules) for various plugins that don’t really lie within the default vBulletin architecture. Other than that, the default stuff wasn’t too hard to figure out.

        It’s been pretty helpful so far at adding orgainic search engine traffic and I’m glad I bought the licenses. I’ll be sure to check out your progress ;)

  5. JoyceBabu says:

    I have heard that Zoints, a free GPL mod, provides the same level of performance as vBSEO. Some even claims that it is better than vBSEO.

    • vbSEO is simply a more powerful engine. A trip down the vbSEO configuration page quickly shows you that with MANY more options than Zoints offers. vbSEO also of course comes with very nice community service. I’ve given them FTP access on multiple occasions not to only fix problems and modification compatibilities, but also to see about optimization.

      Of course, if all you want is rewrite, which is the single most powerful component of vbSEO, you can use Zoints and even other vb rewrite engines. You will then be depending on large community forums to answer questions you may have.

      You’ve just got to weigh the possibilities with your budget. However, most people only own one forum and dropping the substantial amount of funds on vbSEO does more good in the long run. My biggest recommendation however is not to install it from square one if you’re struggling with a forum that just WON’T grow. You should wait until you’ve got a decent rate of growth before installing vbSEO simply so you don’t pay the grand price for vbSEO when your forums don’t even pick up until MONTHS down the road, or you risk even burning out from promoting your forum endlessly to no avail.

      What is also an option is to install Zoints until you start getting an influx of users. THEN switch to vbSEO and use the same redirects. If it sounds like a tough ordeal, remember that you can get the vbSEO support team to do everything for you from installation to configuration. – You’re paying for it. ;)

  6. retireyoung says:

    I also just bought this for my new forum:

    http://www.australiaforum.com

    It was pretty easy to set up and I have some nicer looking URLs. I have to see now if I can get extra traffic.

  7. Chris Bowyer says:

    I’m defintely interested in the results of these tests. I’ve been humming and hawwing over vBSEO for months, and might be giving it a go myself soon. I’ll definitely be checking back to see how it goes.

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  12. ninjaproxy says:

    give very useful information thank you ‘re tyler!

  13. Lelah Brevo says:

    No BS and well written, thanks much with the post

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