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Google SEO 1.6.8
#1
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About

The development of this plugin started when Google released a document called "Google's Search Engine Optimization starter guide" in November 2008. After a long public beta phase the plugin finally reached stable status in March 2009. A new, revised edition for MyBB 1.6.4 and newer was released in August 2011.

The goal of this plugin is to implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in MyBB according to the guidelines presented in Google's SEO starter guide to make MyBB more friendly to both users and search engines.

Google SEO is free open source software (LGPL). This means that you can download the plugin for free, modify it to your liking, and you do not have to put any copyright or backlinks on your page.



Download: http://mods.mybb.com/view/google-seo
GitHub: https://github.com/frostschutz/Google-SEO
Documentation: https://github.com/frostschutz/Google-SEO/wiki
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#2
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Features

The plugin currently supports the following features. All features can be selectively disabled / enabled. For more detailed information, refer to the documentation.
  • Google SEO 404:
    • Error pages return HTTP 404 Not Found (and others) instead of 200 OK
    • Custom 404 error pages
    • Google's 404 widget
  • Google SEO Meta:
    • description meta tags for forums / threads / etc.
    • specify canonical pages
    • nofollow links
  • Google SEO Redirect:
    • redirect old URLs to new URLs (or vice versa)
    • avoid URL breakage and double content
  • Google SEO Sitemap:
    • dynamic generation of XML Sitemaps
    • search engines find your content without crawling
  • Google SEO URL:
    • Keyword URLs (e.g. Thread-Some-Subject instead of showthread.php?tid=12345)
    • UTF-8 in URLs is supported
    • Customizable URL styles
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#3
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Changes in Google SEO 1.6.0
  • Requires MyBB 1.6.4 or newer
  • Requires PluginLibrary 4 or newer
  • Various bugfixes and improvements
  • 404:
    • Include 404 URI in Who's Online List
    • Custom Status Codes for specific error pages
      (Example: boardclosed yields 503 Service Unavailable)
  • Meta:
    • Page number for Forum / Thread titles
    • Nofollow links for X days
    • Noindex specific forums
  • Redirect:
    • Setting for post link query behaviour
    • Workaround for Nginx issue
    • Handle new URL styles
  • Sitemap:
    • Don't include redirect forums
  • URL:
    • Automatically apply changes to inc/functions.php
    • Query Limit setting
    • Lazy Mode as alternative method to evaluate SEO URLs
    • Cache for index and portal
    • Character Translation is now a setting (remove translate.php)
    • Setting for post link query and multipage behaviour
    • Additional URL styles (showthread.php?Subject, f-forum/t-thread, ...)
    • Setting to include parent forum / calendar for forums, threads, announcements, events
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#4
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Installing

In order to install this plugin, first check that you meet the requirements, then upload the plugin's files (usually the entire inc/ folder). The list of requirements and files with additional instructions is listed below. Once all files are present, you can use the Install/Activate controls in the Admin CP and configure it. Once installed, the plugin will show a status which may contain further instructions.
Requirements

In order to use this plugin, you must meet these requirements:
  • MyBB 1.6.4 (older versions of MyBB need the Google SEO Legacy plugin)
  • PluginLibrary 4
  • PHP 5.1.0
  • Apache (alternative webservers may work but are not supported)
  • MySQL (alternative databases are not supported at this time)

Some features of this plugin also require changes to core files. The changes can be applied and reverted in the Admin CP.

Upload language files

This plugin uses the following language files. Please upload them all.
  • inc/languages/english/admin/googleseo_plugin.lang.php
  • inc/languages/english/admin/googleseo_settings.lang.php
  • inc/languages/english/googleseo.lang.php

Note:

If your board uses languages other than English, please upload another copy of the language files for each language, i.e. into every inc/languages/*/ folder.

Language Packs

Language Packs for this plugin may be available on the MyBB Mods site, but there is no guarantee they will be up to date. This plugin has very few (less than ten) language strings that will be used outside of the Admin CP. You will find them in googleseo.lang.php. You can either translate them yourself or leave them as is.

Upload plugin files

This plugin uses the following plugin files. Please upload them all.
  • inc/plugins/google_seo.html (the documentation you are reading)
  • inc/plugins/google_seo.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/404.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/meta.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/plugin.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/redirect.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/sitemap.php
  • inc/plugins/google_seo/url.php

Enable the plugin

Once all files are uploaded to the correct location, go to your Admin CP -> Plugins page. The Google SEO Plugin should show up in the plugin list. Click Install & Activate to install the plugin. The plugin will show a status information with further instructions for you to follow. By default, all features of the plugins will be disabled at first and can be enabled on the Admin CP -> Configuration page.

Updating

The Google SEO plugin can be updated by uploading the new files (as described in the Installing section above). Once all the new files are in place, go to your Admin CP -> Plugins page and deactivate the plugin, then activate it again. Further instructions may be given in the plugin status. New settings might be available in the Admin CP -> Configuration page.

Note:

If you are updating from Google SEO Legacy or Google SEO 1.1.13 or older, you have to undo any modifications made to inc/functions.php prior to updating the plugin. Please obtain the original, unmodified inc/functions.php directly from the MyBB downloads page or MyBB Wiki.

If you were using the Patches plugin to modify inc/functions.php, please deactivate / remove the Google SEO related Patches.

Uninstalling

If you want to redirect SEO URLs back to MyBB stock URLs, do not uninstall but refer to the Redirection section below.

To uninstall the plugin, go to your Admin CP -> Plugins page and click Uninstall. Then remove the plugin's files (listed in the Installing section above). Also remove all other modifications you may have made to additional files such as htaccess.

Note:

Uninstalling Google SEO removes its URL database. If you were using SEO URLs, those URLs will no longer work and old URLs won't be redirected even if you reinstall the plugin.

Plugin Status

When installed and activated, Google SEO will display a plugin status on the Admin CP -> Plugins page. The status gives an overview of which of the plugin's features are enabled or disabled. It will also warn you about known issues and tell you when you have to make changes, such as adding Rewrite Rules or applying or reverting changes to core files.

Note:

Check the plugin status regularly (especially when changing settings) to see if everything is the way you want it to be.
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#5
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Configuration & Settings

Google SEO has lots of settings, organized into several setting groups. If you go to your Admin CP -> Configuration page, and scroll down, you should see the Google SEO Setting groups. The following sections will describe the settings available in each group. Please also read the descriptions of the settings themselves directly in the Admin CP.
Google SEO

This is the main setting group of the plugin. In here you can decide whether or not to enable the various feature sections of the plugin. Disabling a setting here also disables all other settings of that feature, so for example if you disable URL, none of the settings in the Google SEO URL setting group below will have any effect.

Settings in this group:
  • Enable Google SEO 404
  • Enable Google SEO Meta
  • Enable Google SEO Redirect
  • Enable Google SEO Sitemap
  • Enable Google SEO URL

Note:

Many of the settings below are intended for advanced users only. If you do not understand what a setting does, stick to the recommended default value.

Google SEO 404

Settings in this group:
  • 404 widget
  • Show 404 errors in Who's Online
  • Customize HTTP status codes
  • Debug 404 error labels

Google SEO Meta

Settings in this group:
  • Meta description
  • Canonical Page
  • Meta for Archive Mode
  • Provide page number for forum and thread titles
  • Nofollow links
  • Noindex forums

Page number in forum and thread titles

By default, MyBB does not include a page number in the title. This causes Google to complain about lots of duplicate title tags for forums and threads which have many pages.

Google SEO Meta provides a variable which you can include into your forumdisplay and showthread templates. However if you want this, you have to edit these templates manually.

Example <title> tag in the showthread template:

Code:
<title>{$thread['subject']}{$google_seo_page}</title>

The variable will only be set for pages > 1, so this change would lead to page titles like "Subject" for page 1 and "Subject - Page 2" for page 2.

Google SEO Redirect

Settings in this group:
  • Permission Checks
  • Redirect Post Links
  • LiteSpeed Bug workaround
  • Nginx Bug workaround
  • Debug Redirect

Redirect Loops

If you experience redirect loops (redirects that never end) please enable the Debug Redirect feature and send me the debug output. Please note that the debug output may contain confidential information (such as login cookies), so please don't post it in public, but email / PM me directly.

If you are using an alternative webserver, you can also give the LiteSpeed / Nginx workaround settings a try (even if you're not using those webservers) and see if they help.

Otherwise, disable Redirect until a solution can be found.

Redirecting SEO URLs back to MyBB stock URLs

Google SEO does not force you to keep using its URLs. If you want to go back to stock URLs, you can do so. Basically you have two options to achieve a SEO URL -> Stock URL redirection:
  • Empty the SEO URL scheme for a particular URL type

    This is useful if for example you want to go back to stock URLs for user profiles only, but not for forums and threads.
  • Revert changes to core files

    This way the Google SEO URL module will be in inactive state.

Do not disable Google SEO URL or Redirect, and do not remove the Rewrite Rules from your .htaccess. All of these components are required to keep old keyword URLs and subsequent redirect working.

Google SEO Sitemap

Settings in this group:
  • Sitemap URL scheme
  • Forums
  • Threads
  • Users
  • Announcements
  • Calendars
  • Events
  • Additional Pages
  • Sitemap Pagination

Sitemap Generation

The sitemap standard (or that what Google, Yahoo, Ask etc. are using) is described here:

http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php

The sitemap-index.xml is an Sitemap index file as described there. It links to the actual sitemap files (sitemap-threads.xml?page=1).

Google SEO Sitemaps are created dynamically. When you tell Google about your XML Sitemap (in Google Webmaster Tools, or by specifying it in your robots.txt file) it will download the index, and then browse through the sitemaps listed in this index. So Google goes through your Sitemap page by page similar to how a user goes through your forums page by page.

It's split into pages because creating a sitemap for tens of thousands of threads, users and forums all at once would cause too much load. Also, sitemaps have a limitation of 50000 items per sitemap.

The Sitemap is created dynamically in order to give Google and other search engines the current up to date status of your forum whenever it chooses to access your sitemap. This way Google gets up to date sitemaps as early as possible which leads to google accessing your new content it found via the sitemap as early as possible which leads to your new content getting indexed by Google as early as possible.

Please note that the Sitemap displays only forums and threads that the current user can actually read. So if you see private threads in your sitemap, it may be because you're currently logged in as admin, and does not mean that Google will see those threads too.

Submit Sitemap to Search Engines

For the Sitemap to be of any use, you have to submit it to Search Engines. You can automate this process by adding a Sitemap directive to your robots.txt (example robots.txt included in the Google SEO package). By default your Sitemap will be called sitemap-index.xml.

Google SEO URL

Settings in this group:
  • Query Limit
  • Evaluation Mode
  • Use MyBB's Cache system for SEO URLs
  • Punctuation characters
  • URL separator
  • URL uniquifier
  • URL uniquifier enforcer
  • Character Translation
  • lowercase words
  • URL length soft limit
  • URL length hard limit
  • Handle Post Links
  • Handle multipage links
  • Forum URL scheme
  • Thread URL scheme
  • Thread Prefixes
  • Announcement URL scheme
  • User URL scheme
  • Calendar URL scheme
  • Event URL scheme
  • Include parent forum in forum URLs?
  • Include parent forum in thread URLs?
  • Include parent forum in announcement URLs?
  • Include parent calendar in event URLs?

Evaluation Mode

Google SEO URL has two possible modes of operation.

In Full Mode (Default), every time a SEO URL is requested, it will be obtained and returned immediately. In worst case (if the URL is not cached), this will require a database query. When querying URLs from the database, Google SEO tries to query as many URLs as possible in one go, but it can't always predict which URLs will be required for the rest of the page, especially when other plugins create links too.

In Lazy Mode, Google SEO returns a place holder instead of the SEO URL. Just before the page is sent to the user, it will then proceed to replace all placeholders with the SEO URL. This way, all URLs that are on the page can be handled in a single query.

The downside of Lazy Mode is that there's no guarantee that a requested URL will be used in the output. It might just as well become part of some notification mail or used for other purposes. Since this is most likely to happen during POST requests, Lazy Mode will only work for GET requests and fall back to Full Mode for POST requests.

If you feel that Google SEO uses too many queries on your board, or if your board is just very large and active, or if your database just happens to be very slow, Lazy Mode might be for you. Otherwise stick to Full Mode as it is much more reliable.

Uniquifier

The Google SEO URL Uniquifier is applied to URLs that would otherwise not be unique (and thus result in threads that are not accessible). Collision testing (for example for two threads with the same title) is done only once, therefore the uniquifier must result in a truly unique URL that can not possibly collide with anything else.

A good uniquifier needs to fulfill these two criteria:
  • contain the items unique {id}
  • contain punctuation that cannot occur in non-uniquified URLs

Early versions of Google SEO used {url}-{id} as uniquifier and therefore did not fulfill criteria 2. This could lead to collisions in rare cases, for example:

Code:
ID: 1, Title: Unique,   URL: Thread-Unique
ID: 2, Title: Unique 3, URL: Thread-Unique-3
ID: 3, Title: Unique,   URL: Thread-Unique-3 (same as Thread 2)

Thread 3 collides with Thread 1 (both are called Unique), so the uniquifier is applied. This results in Unique-3. However, there already happens to be a thread called Unique-3. Doesn't work.

With the new uniquifier {url}{separator}{separator}{id}, the uniquified URL will be Thread-Unique--3. Because the id is already unique, and other URLs can't contain -- (title punctuation is reduced to one single separator, not two), that makes the URL as a whole unique.

If you use a custom uniquifier, make sure it fulfills the two criteria listed above. Be aware that special punctuation characters like :@/?& or space can break your URLs.

Character Translation

Please note that translation of characters is not required (browsers and Google handle them just fine), and it causes additional CPU cost.

You can do character translation in URLs if you so desire. In the textbox of the character translation setting, specify one character per line and its replacement, separated by =.

For example the following would replace German umlauts with their most commonly used ASCII counterparts:

Code:
Ä = Ae
Ö = Oe
Ü = Ue
ä = ae
ö = oe
ü = ue
ß = ss

With this character translation setting, Thread-Übergrößenträger would appear as Thread-Uebergroessentraeger instead.

Note:

Google SEO Legacy used a separate translate.php file instead. This file is not used anymore. The translations have to be specified in the setting.
URL Schemes

Google SEO uses a simple, static URL scheme by default (Forum-Name, Thread-Name, etc.). This is recommended because it tells users and search engines exactly what to expect behind an URL. It is possible to customize the URL scheme with various settings. However, not every scheme will actually work. When customizing URL schemes, you have to be aware of the limitations of both this plugin and MyBB.

Avoid Scheme Conflicts

Google SEO URL relies on the webserver to rewrite the URLs to the correct file. Thread-Subject is rewritten to showthread.php, Forum-Name to forumdisplay.php, and so on. For those rewrites to work, every URL must have something in it that identifies it as being of a particular type.

For this reason it's not possible to remove Thread- or Forum- because then the rewrite rules would confuse Subject for a forum URL and Name with a thread URL. When you have a conflict of any kind in your URL scheme, the URLs will stop working and you will also lose the ability to redirect these URLs later.

Note:

If a Rewrite Rule matches more than one type of URL, you have a conflict and your URLs will stop working either altogether or at least partially.

The default scheme avoids conflicts by using prefixes: Thread-{url}, Forum-{url}, Announcement-{url}, etc. This way a thread URL can never start with Forum- and a forum URL can never start with Thread-, so there are no conflicts possible.

You can change those prefixes to something else as long as you keep some kind of unique prefix, for example t-{url} instead of Thread-{url}.

You can also use postfixes, such as {url}-Thread and {url}-Forum. However you can not mix prefix and postfix, as otherwise Thread-Forum could be either a thread called forum, or a forum called thread.

On the other hand, a postfix such as {url}.thread would work even if the other URLs use prefixes, because by default the dot character can not occur in the {url} itself.

Dynamic SEO URLs

If your webserver does not support mod_rewrite, you can put the keyword URL in the dynamic part. The default dynamic URL scheme would be like so:

Code:
Forum:         forumdisplay.php?{url}
Thread:        showthread.php?{url}
Announcements: announcements.php?{url}
Users:         member.php?action=profile&{url}
Calendars:     calendar.php?{url}
Events:        calendar.php?action=event&{url}

Please note that {url} must be a stand alone parameter. The following will NOT work:
Code:
?Something-{url}
?something={url}
The only exception to that rule are the parameter names that Google SEO uses internally for rewrites:
Code:
forumdisplay.php?google_seo_forum={url}
showthread.php?google_seo_thread={url}
...

Virtual Directory Structure

Google SEO supports including the parent forum name in thread URL, and allows the use of the directory separator /. With this, in theory, you could build a virtual directory structure URL scheme along the lines of f-My-Category/f-My-Forum/t-Subject.

However, due to the issues involved with Virtual Directory Structure, this feature will never be directly supported in any way. You can do it if you absolutely want to but you will have to adapt your own rewrite rules for it (the standard rewrite rules do not look for / in {url}). The rewrite rules suggested in the Plugin Status won't work.

Doing this is NOT recommended for several reasons. First of all it makes URLs more expensive and serves nothing but make your URLs longer than they need to be.

MyBB uses relative links everywhere. Introducing a directory structure, virtual or not, breaks those links. Some of these issues can be worked around, but there's no guarantee that it will work with other things such as JavaScript.

To work around this issue, add a base tag to your headerinclude template:

Code:
<base href="{$settings['bburl']}/" />

Here's an example for a Virtual Directory Structure URL scheme:

Code:
Forum:         f-{url}/
Thread:        f-{url}
Announcements: f-{url}
Users:         u-{url}/
Calendars:     c-{url}/
Events:        c-{url}
Parent Forum:        {parent}/f-{url}
Parent Thread:       {parent}/t-{url}
Parent Announcement: {parent}/a-{url}
Parent Event:        {parent}/e-{url}

And the Rewrite Rules to go with it:

Code:
# Google SEO URL Forums:
RewriteRule ^f\-([^./]+)/?$ forumdisplay.php?google_seo_forum=$1 [L,QSA,NC]
RewriteRule ^f\-([^.]+)/f-([^./]+)/?$ forumdisplay.php?google_seo_forum=$1/f-$2 [L,QSA,NC]

# Google SEO URL Threads:
RewriteRule ^f\-([^.]+)/t-([^./]+)$ showthread.php?google_seo_thread=$1/t-$2 [L,QSA,NC]

# Google SEO URL Announcements:
RewriteRule ^f\-([^.]+)/a-([^./]+)$ announcements.php?google_seo_announcement=$1/a-$2 [L,QSA,NC]

# Google SEO URL Users:
RewriteRule ^u\-([^./]+)/?$ member.php?action=profile&google_seo_user=$1 [L,QSA,NC]

# Google SEO URL Calendars:
RewriteRule ^c\-([^./]+)/?$ calendar.php?google_seo_calendar=$1 [L,QSA,NC]

# Google SEO URL Events:
RewriteRule ^c\-([^./]+)/e-([^./]+)$ calendar.php?action=event&google_seo_event=$1/e-$2 [L,QSA,NC]

Combined Styles

It is possible to combine the various URL scheme styles to some degree. You can take the standard URL style Thread-{url}, and put the {url} in the dynamic part instead using Thread?{url}. To make this work you need a rewrite for Thread -> showthread.php.

With the {url} in the dynamic part of the URL, you can proceed to including parent forums in thread URLs, even using directory separators. Since / in the dynamic part of the URL is not seen as a real directory, you will avoid most of the pitfalls involved with the Virtual Directory Structure.

Here's an example for a combined URL scheme:

Code:
Forum:         Forum?{url}
Thread:        Thread?{url}
Announcements: Announcement?{url}
Users:         User?{url}/
Calendars:     Calendar?{url}/
Events:        Event?{url}
Parent Forum:        {parent}/{url}
Parent Thread:       {parent}/{url}
Parent Announcement: {parent}/{url}
Parent Event:        {parent}/{url}

The end result would be an URL like Thread?Category/Forum/Subject. Even so it's not recommended because the URL can just get too long.
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#6
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Troubleshooting

SEO URLs do not work

If the SEO URLs do not appear (links are not changed), then you have either not enabled the URL settings properly, or you did not apply the necessary changes to core files. Check your Plugin Status.

If the SEO URLs appear but give you 404 errors like thread not found, thread does not exist, etc., then your Rewrite Rules do not work for some reason. Check that you have edited the .htaccess (not htaccess.txt!) correctly. Some hosts need a RewriteBase, others do not. If you are using a custom SEO URL Scheme, make sure this scheme does not have any conflicts.

There is no sitemap.xml file

Google SEO's Sitemap is generated dynamically every time it is accessed. This means there is no file for it, similar to how there is no file for a specific thread. Instead of looking for a file on FTP, use HTTP. By default the URL to your sitemap will be yoursite/sitemap-index.xml

Users show up as seeing error pages in Who's Online

This usually happens when you have a missing image or CSS or JS file in your forum. The user visits a thread or forum, the browser tries to load the missing image, and the resulting 404 error overrides the location in the online list.
The Google SEO 404 Who's Online setting has an option to include the URI in the online status. If you enable this and then hover over the error page links in Who's Online, you should be able to see which page / URL caused the error and fix it.
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#10
Thanks very much, i will try now Big Grin
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