I’ve encountered numerous problems working with proboards as mentioned in previous posts. Most importantly is the technical constraints I get. Not being able to set my own url canonicalisation, the mess proboards has made of meta descriptions and titles, hta access and general technical seo.
The more I learn about SEO, the more I want my own forum designed from the ground up with SEO in mind with a hoster I can have full control over, but as this is timely and costly, i’ve decided to advise others on how to best work with pre-made templates and proboard’s cpanel when dealing with SEO.
Generally it is non-advised to shoehorn SEO into website builders and free templates, but sometimes you just don’t have the time and money to build a site from the ground up, or perhaps your site is just a hobby and you just want to tweak it a little.
Either way, here are some things to watch our for when dealing with these providers:
Rip out pre-made code and optimise it yourself
If you know enough about technical seo and coding, you should strip back the junk code which is usually created with free website builders and optimise it yourself. This includes websites such as godaddy, wordpress, squarespace, wix and weebly to note a few.
Tweak your settings
There are also presets that can be changed to better optimise your blog/site for google. Permalink structure and better control over titles are two such examples. Yoast have written an impressive guide for wordpress which is periodically updated, you can check it out here.
Rich snippets & Social Meta Tags
Even a free hoster like proboards gives you access to the code in the form of layout templates (snippets of code that controls the whole). You can add social meta data and code such as rich snippets to give search engines better information.
Not all free template providers or creators are happy with this, so I encourage you check first but if you have the freedom to make minor edits, I suggest you optimise the layout so most of your important information is above the fold.
It varies based on the design, for example my forum template had a feature where the nav bar background div would be transparent until you scrolled which left the text eligible at a glance. I edited the html to make the div appear at all times.
It will always be better to bake in your seo from the ground up, but don’t be put off if this isn’t an immediate option for you.