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Potential Problems of PHPBB3 Forum Indexation




TL;DR (show hidden summary)
Enable indexation
  1. Make sure your robots.txt allows crawling
  2. Make sure there is Google [bot] account and that Google can use it
  3. Make sure Google [bot] has access to read your forums
  4. Make sure META tags or links do not restrict crawling your own website
  5. Ask Google to reconsider your website indexation after you done steps 1-4
Improve indexation
  1. Add website to Google webmaster tools (WMT)
  2. Install sitemap.php to PHPBB and submit it to Google WMT
  3. Add Google Analytics
  4. Edit forum template and change Title generation
  5. Update robots.txt to exclude unwanted URLs to avoid repetitions

Some time ago an acquaintance of mine has approached me and asked if I could fix their forum (let's call it X) indexation issues. Having no real experience back then I replied, that I can try, but can't really estimate how long it will take me to figure out what's wrong.

In particular they were interested to get proper attention by Google (well, it is the search engine so I can understand that).

To check if the forum (or website) is indexed at all, you can go to Google and type in the search box:


This will list all the entries derived from the URL you entered in the Google index. In case of the forum X, the results were just a couple of entries (against like 100 topics they actually had on the forum).

So, there definitely was a problem.

First, check your robots.txt file.

It should not have things like

Disallow: /forum/viewtopic.php


Disallow: /forum/

Next, go into the forum admin cp and check that there is an account called something like Google [bot].

When you get to view the properties of this user, there is a link which allows you to see the forum with same access privileges as this user has. This is crucial. I was astonished to see that the bot had actually no rights whatsoever to view any topics on the forum. It saw forum to be totally empty. This was the main reason for indexation not working.

To solve this, you just need to allow it read-only access to all posts (or forums/sub-forums) you want indexed.

Another potential problem is 'nofollow' and 'noindex' properties. You may see these either inside a META tag on the top of the page or in the anchor links pointing you from forums to the actual topics inside them.

Just make sure that 'nofollow' is only present in the links which point to the external sites.

So, after these necessary points are checked, it’s time now to ask Google to reconsider the website.

Granted, of course, that you are already registered with them.

If not, then you might want to register an account with Google and add your website to Web Master Tools (WMT).

In there you can upload or give link to the sitemap of your site/forum. To create a sitemap of the PHPBB3 forum, there is a very useful php script.

Credits to the authors, this script is awesome.

You just set it up, and give link to it to the Google WMT. Every time this page is loaded, a fresh list of all your topics is generated. This way you make sure Google never gets an out of date sitemap. Also note that Google likes when sitemap is updated regularly.

Additionally, you could add Google Analytics module to your website or forum. This is also believed to have positive impact on your indexation.

Just remember this one: every sub-domain or domain has to have a separate Google Analytics module. In our case of forum, check how the forum is installed. Is it a separate sub-domain like '' or is it just a catalogue like ''?

In the first case you would need different Google Analytics for either forum or website and in the second case you need the very same Google Analytics for both forum and the website.

You may further boost your results with search engines by changing the way Title is generated on your forum. Depending on the template, you may have your title to be something like 'EXAMPLE.COM FORUMS – TOPIC NAME'. There is a reason why this is bad. Search engines consider (and display) only first few characters (66 by Google and 120 by Yahoo) of the page title. Therefore, you want them to display the topic name first.

So you need to make sure, that the template first displays the topic name, and then, optionally, other info like what the forum or website is.

Last thing you might want to do is edit your robots.txt to let the Google know that there are certain paths it should not try to index. These are normally some generated paths like results returned from your forum search etc. Excluding such results from Google indexes allows you to avoid any duplicates that Google won't like and either complain about, or otherwise use against you.

This is an example of what you could add to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /forum/search.php
Disallow: /*&t=*


It all really depends on the settings of your forum, so you would need to figure out what paths are automatically generated and duplicate each other.

Well, hope it all helps if you face such a problem!

google indexation forum phpbb3

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16 October 2010 22:33



15 December 2013 06:04

Aysha Karim

Thanks for Sharing Regards


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