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+3 votes
10.4k views
in Q2A Core by
It seems like the entire Q&A structure isn't very SEO friendly at this time. Does anyone have any tips on how to improve the performance?

4 Answers

+2 votes
by
By their very nature, Q&A and forum pages are extremely difficult to optimize for search engines. Most of the content is from your visitors and is difficult to focus on good target keywords. However, discussions are very good for long-tail and mis-spellngs [sic].

We all know the routine for attention grabbing titles, compelling meta descriptions, focused keywords, well structured headings etc, but what truly matters is good content and incoming links.

As a webmaster, you will get much better search engine positioning by keeping discussions on topic than by any amount of tinkering. If you don't believe me, check the top pages for your target keywords. Every time I have done this, half the top pages have none of the expected SEO features that we are all taught are so important (Internet marketers are not going to make much money, if all they tell you is to write structured, well focused content, then go and get some links - they have to sell you a system).

Having said all that, meta keywords (from the tags) and meta description (from an admin only excerpt box) would be nice, but I do not think they should be a priority. (Hint: HTML markup in this box should be :grin:)

For top search engine performance I would say:

* Write a good guide to contributors, to encourage them to stay on topic, and to use good summary questions (e.g. this question is about SEO, yet it is not mentioned in the summary question - what will Google think?). Consider an ebook and video version of the guide, to maximize exposure.
* Add comments as much as you can to enrich the page. Write these for your visitors, but with keyword focused phrases to help search engines know what the page is about.
* Vote up the well structured questions and answers. Vote down the off topic stuff. Hide in extreme cases, but only as a last resort - you can achieve more with good comments.
* Focus your SEO efforts on summary and reference pages, using the Q&A pages for source material, and drive traffic to those pages in your answers and comments. When driving traffic, you should answer the question then add the link, not just write "see article ..." These pages are also much easier to monetize (at least with AdSense) as most visitors are too focused on the discussion to click the ads. Obviously, this needs to be outside Question2Answer - it could even be a separate website - as Q2A, quite rightly, has no page building capability.
* To get started, register yourself as several people (with their own character) and talk to yourself about your keywords all day. Some say that schizophrenia helps here, but I'm in two minds about it.
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Also see:
http://www.question2answer.org/qa/424/how-to-add-header-description-based-on-question#433

This technique would be great for the meta tags, though the meta description is less controllable.
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Also, for clarity, the affect of voting on answers depends on some tweaking. By default, Q2A moves the best answer to the top, if there is one, then uses date order. To change it to voting order see:
http://www.question2answer.org/qa/731/order-the-answers-by-votes#759

Search engines tend to give greater weight to content nearer the top of the page. I do not believe this is a strong weighting, but the true benefit of voting is to encourage contributers to keep on-topic.

The most benefit will come from how votes and comments create an encouraging environment, especially if you can encourage other contributers to help you with this. Changing Q2A to list in vote order should give a marginal benefit, so whether it is worth the effort is up to you.
+5 votes
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I believe that Google has stated openly that neither meta description nor keywords have any effect on their rankings, for the simple reason that they're not displayed in web browsers, and so don't contain genuine user-facing content. I think this has probably been the case for a long time.

Still, there's an admin option in Q2A that lets you insert any markup into the <HEAD> section of all pages, so you're welcome to experiment there.

Apart from that, here are some SEO features that Q2A *does* have:

* Search engine friendly URLs
* Appropriate <H1> and <TITLE> tags
* Top tags and top users pages give link weight to most important content
* External links with rel="nofollow" (this is also to discourage abuse)

I'm sure there are some small tweaks that might help SEO further, but as far as I know, that covers the most important bases.
+3 votes
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edited by
gidgreen's answer is partly correct - meta keywords has zero bearing on rankings. Meta description is a small factor I believe - and most search engines will display the meta description in search results.

However, SEs also find the best parts of content to display when there is no meta description so you needn't worry too much. No auto-generated description can be good IMO.

One optimisation that is very useful IMO is "canonicalisation" which tells SEs the preferred URL of a page. This helps on questions where you changed the title and so the URL changed. The format is like so:
<link rel="canonical" href="URL" />

You can put this code in your custom theme file:


$this->output( '<link rel="canonical" href="'.@$this->content['q_view']['url'].'" />' );
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This discussion is very interesting and important as well, so I want point out, that meta keywords are relevant for ad quality. As far as I know adsense uses them, but they are not relevant for the SERankings.

The description as well is not so important as google takes a chapter of the text, why should meta-descriptions be better. But how ever, both are implemented in V1.2

My experience tells me, that onsite optimization has an effect about the ad quality, but PR and ranking depends to 90 % on incoming links and the quantity of internal pages listed on google.

I bought some domains with good PR and have put just a few lines on them. They still rank excellent. I thought it would be a good idea to add good content from experienced writers, and the effect was several times a movement from place 9 to 8 or from 16 to 14. Thatfore I am sure that You, as long as You do not have errors and mistakes on a site, cant do much through onsite optimization. ( But avoid errors, this hurts. )

Much more important is, that You have as many pages as possible in google. And to have that working really well, we would need a well balanced sitemap.

Is there already something planned for the near future ?
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A sitemap is on the roadmap, but in the meantime you might want to try the Sitemap Generator by Simon Frerichs: http://www.question2answer.org/install.php#addons
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In which function in qa-theme.php should this code be pasted DisgruntledGoat?
+1 vote
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Great discussion. I would like to add one important thought to it though.

Even though description might not be all that important for ranking, it definitely influences your click through when ranking on page one.

I have many first positions, and I tinker with description AND title

I look at my search results as little ads where I can tinker with the title and description to influence clicking on the serp link to my page.

Therefore I would like to be able to set the title and description field.

Keywords I would totally leave out, why show your competition what you are optimizing for?

So I would like to add to the question, How can I add 2 fields to the system, one where I can set the title and one where I can set the description.
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