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Hide Vanilla.com hosted forum from Google

edited December 2011 in Questions
I want to drive all traffic through my main site and then to my embedded forum. I have noticed some Google searches were linked to my source forum at My "MyForumName.VanillaForums.com" Is there a good way to stop this without hurting search of my data found at "MySite.com/Forum"

Hope this is clear...


  • With an embedded forum you really can't get Google to crawl your forum content in the embed page. Here is what I recommend for embedded forums.

    1. Get your forum verified through google webmaster tools so that any of the following changes can be updated in google.
    2. Get your main site into google webmaster tools if you haven't already.
    3. Use a custom domain that is under your main forum. Even though it is embedded your main domain will benefit if you use a subdomain.
    4. Once your forum and main site are on the same domain it will help your main site.
    5. Get your forum to redirect for anyone that comes to a page through Google.

    As it turns out embedding is great for people that need to get a theme up and running quickly, but it isn't the best for SEO. That's just a fact of the Internet.

    I can help you through these steps, but I'm out of the office until the new year so my availability is limited until then. I recommend at least getting your main site on google webmaster tools.

    Then to verify your .vanillaforums.com site you need to set it up in webmaster tools and then get a verification code you need to put into your head. You can do this in your custom theme.
  • edited December 2011
    Cool! Thanks Todd. This is on my list of things to do early in Q1. I will get as much of this done on my own and let you know.

    Clear advise and help is exactly why I am willing to pay for a pro account here.

    Enjoy your time off.
  • edited December 2011
    Great. I really think webmaster tools is a great tool to use with your site and it's often overlooked in favor of google analytics. While analytics tell you a whole lot of information about people visiting your site, webmaster tools can help you with strategies on getting people to find your site.

    And the best thing is that you don't have to use just one of the tools. You can use both together.
  • Todd,

    Now have both the main site and the forum verified with Google.

    Can you clarify your point #3?
    I understand how to create a SubDomain at my host... not exactly sure what you are telling me to do. Is this something I do within the Vanilla domain or from my host (GoDaddy)?

    "Use a custom domain that is under your main forum. Even though it is embedded your main domain will benefit if you use a subdomain."


  • Right now your forum is at ballofspray.vanillaforums.com. You want this to be something like forum.ballofspray.com.

    You need to so some work in Godaddy and then some work in Vanilla. In your dashboard there is an item called "Custom Domain" that has instructions.

    Once you've done this then your embed script will also have a new Url. So make sure you update that too.
  • After thinking about this, I do not think it is going to work the way I want. Pointing to forum.ballofspray.com or something like that does not really solve anything.

    In the end I only want my readers to see the forum from inside my Joomla site so they always see the banners. It is about the advertisers.

    I am thinking that from Google Webmaster tools I can hide the forum since from Googles view it is literally a different site. Does that make sense?

    It is too bad that Google can not crawl the forum from the iFrame but as I understand it that will never happen.
  • There is an autoredirect option so when users go to the link google finds then the browser will redirect them to your embedded forum.

    If you still want to hide your site I then I recommend adding <meta name="robots" content="noindex" /> inside your theme's head tag.

    Although Google can't crawl the embedded version now, they may be able to do it in the future. I think Bing has some capability to crawl
  • edited January 2012
    Ok I think I 90% understand.

    1. If we autoredirect - no matter how the reader gets there, they end up viewing where I want them, right?

    2. With that option, there is no reason to do the custom Custom domains / Subdomain right?

    I want the simplest solution the just keeps the reader reading from the iframe.
  • @Todd

    Bump - See above Question
  • Sorry, missed your follow-up.

    1. With auto-redirect the user will always be redirected to the iframe, yes. I think the only case this doesn't happen is on mobile which makes sense.

    2. There is still a reason to do a custom subdomain. We don't auto-redirect Google and other search-bots. So someone can still get to your site through Google and then be auto-redirected to your embedded site with the ads.

    So the simplest solution would be to keep doing what your doing now, but with auto-redirect. If you want to get a bit of SEO juice from your forum then I'd also do the custom domain too.
  • @Todd
    I finally got around to your first suggeston. I created the subdomain forum.ballofspray.com and did the redirect Custom Domain through my dashboard. I also reset my embed code. Seems like all of this was pretty easy.

    Not sure how to verify ownership with Google Webmaster tools. The url forum.ballofspray.com points to ballofspray.vanillaforums.com so I am not sure how I embed to the Google verify file.
  • Okay, to verify your ownership what you want to do is the following:

    1. Add forum.ballofspray.com to google webmaster tools.
    2. They'll say you need to verify your site and there are a few ways to do this. I recommend using the method where you put a meta tag in your HEAD tag.
    3. Put that meta tag into your theme before the closing head.
    4. Once you've done this go back into webmaster tools and click verify.
    5. That's it!
  • edited January 2012

    As I understand what we've done, Google will index forum.ballofspray.com. I will benefit from that Google juice.

    Currently the remaining issue is if Google directs a reader to the URL forum.ballofspray.com the reader is still not really where I want them.

    Ideally, I want to redirect any visitor that finds forum.ballofspray.com to the iframe.

    so the question is, how do I redirect from forum.ballofspray.com to the iframe at ballofspray.com/forum#/discussions
  • There is a setting to force your forum to be viewed in the embedded url at the bottom of the embed settings. This will redirect people to the embed page.

    Looking at your forum a notice that this also affects browsing from the iPhone which I think may affect quite a few of your users. I'll put a quick patch in tonight so that doesn't happen and then check off the setting. Is this okay?

    Related to your mobile site. If you have the ability to generate a small banner ad for mobile viewing I'd love to see about putting it in for the mobile site. We can make pockets of html only display in mobile. Do you have the ability to generate other ad formats? Are you interested in doing this?
  • edited January 2012
    I have an iPhone app being built. Besides that I want all readers to use the full site. I am not prepared to do mobile banners that this point. I guess I may have to do that at some point.

    I like the idea of just making banners in the mobile format but do not have a way to auto rotate them. It would simply be another IT project that I am do not have time for.

    As for redirecting forums.ballofspray.com to ballofspray.com/forum#/discussions is there any reason why that is a bad idea? If not go for it.
  • edited February 2012

    I now have a behavior that I do not love and think it is caused by what we did above.

    When a link is clicked from outside the site or a URL is pasted it does not land in the thread... it gets redirected to the main discussions page.

    CLick here for an example



  • @Todd
    The same idea as my above post. We seem to have created a circular ref of some sort. I am getting redirected to the main discussions page a lot. Can we un-do whatever we did last?

    Seems like we fixed one thing and made a bigger issue.
  • This does not work:

    This does:

    Note the leading slash. I think this has always been the been the behavior, but I'll look into it and make them both work.

    As far as the redirects. Can you first try hard-refreshing your javascript and letting me know if you still see the problem?
  • I reset the JS.
    I am not clear how to always repro the issue. I will tool around and let you know.
  • @Todd
    So why am I generating the wrong URLs? (your first example) I am sure this was not the case a week ago.

    Going back to what we did and why we did it... I think the old state where forum.ballofspray.com was not redirected was better than this. (assuming that is what is causing the behavior)

    I would like "ShareThis" to work. If you test it you will see that it always ends up back at main discussions page.

    Seems like you did what I asked in the beginning... sorry if this is a pain.
  • I think I've fixed the issue. You'll need to refresh your browser and go to the link again, but give it a try.

    Let me poke around for a day or two to really make sure we can put this to bed.

This discussion has been closed.