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Google SEO Optimization Tips for PhpBB

With the advent of WordPress and other arrays of blogging softwares, poor old forums have lost their charm. 3 years earlier, PhpBB was the most used software in forums, almost every webmaster had a forum about something. It was an instant hit since it’s launch because of it’s folksonomical nature, but in a more un refined way as compared to the latest softwares.

One major reason why a forum failed is because of it’s non SEO friendly nature.

  • Forums did not have SEO friendly urls
  • They did not allow bots to crawl the inner pages
  • They had SEO un friendly titles
  • Forums in general did not look at SE’s with importance at all, so they did not leave any room for tweaks as well.

With all these problems in front of us, let’s see how we can make the forums (PhpBB mainly) SEO friendly?

  • Optimizing the page titles
    Page titles are a crucial factor for search engine optimization. Crawlers pick up the titles from every page and it’s important to give maximum information in this area in a non-spammy way. Here’s how you do it by some quick edits.
    – Edit file ‘templates/subSilver(or your template)/overall_header.tpl’

    Replace –

<title>{SITENAME} :: {PAGE_TITLE}</title>




<title>{PAGE_TITLE} :: {SITENAME}</title>

Edit Viewtopic.PHP

Replace –

$page_title = $lang[‘View_topic’] .’ – ‘ . $topic_title;  with
$page_title = $lang[‘View_topic’] .’ – ‘ . $topic_title;

  • Tweaking the robots.txt file to allow better Search Engine indexing.
    Robots.txt can be used to control what pages is available to search engine robots and what pages are not. Generally on PhpBB, there are lot of sub directories that are allowed to crawl by default. But actually this is not required. We only need to allow certain folders and files to be crawled – so that only the necessary information is available to the crawler.
    Including the below code in to your robots.txt will disallow all the unwanted folders from being crawled by search engines.
    This way only the necessary information (those in the posts) are available for crawlers and the junk is filtered out.

User-agent: * Disallow: /admin/ Disallow: /db/ Disallow: /images/ Disallow: /includes/ Disallow: /language/ Disallow: /privmsg.php Disallow: /profile.php Disallow: /search.php Disallow: /templates/ Disallow: /common.php Disallow: /config.php Disallow: /faq.php Disallow: /viewonline.php Disallow: /groupcp.php Disallow: /login.php Disallow: /memberlist.php Disallow: /modcp.php Disallow: /posting.php

  • Plugins to help create sitemaps for PhpBB
    Here are some cool plugins/mods for PhpBB that will help you create SEO friendly urls and even sitemaps that will help you get more pages indexed on Google. Here goes –
  1. Google, MSN and Yahoo sitemap generator mod for PhpBB – This mod will create a Google SitemapIndex and auto generated Google Sitemaps for phpBB
  2. Google Puller – This hack creates pages with 500 links to posts on your community. The words are taken from actual posts on your community (from the search_word table) and they link to the post that contains that word.
    The aim of the hack is to help search engines like Google or MSN to index your pages.

Part 2 of this post will follow with more methods on how to optimize your forum software for more search engines.

August 20th, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for the mention.


August 30th, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for the seo tips. Following through with them now. Hope you don’t mind me dropping a link. haha.

August 30th, 2007 at 10:34 pm

That’s fine as long as it’s not spam.

September 5th, 2007 at 12:29 am

thanks, i’ll try this one, but Mani the “Edit Viewtopic.PHP” are the same to replace with?

September 7th, 2007 at 9:33 am

Very Interesting…


October 8th, 2007 at 1:23 pm



October 14th, 2007 at 5:03 am

Great forum!
I found a lot of interesting information here.
Does this forum helpful for you also?

October 14th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Those bastards owe me money, they refuse to pay. Good job Shoemoney [img][/img]

Bah, anyway, anyone else have probs with these douches?

November 4th, 2007 at 4:56 am

i’m eric. joining a couple boards and looking
forward to participating. hehe unless i get
too distracted!


November 14th, 2007 at 3:01 am

I’ve just registered at the forum. This is my first message.
Please don’t become angry about me.
Thank you.

December 18th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

I’ve been running a PHPBB forum for years and done a little SEO optimization but this post had a couple ideas I have neglected. Namely the title thingy. I also added a meta description tag to my pages.

Music Critic’s last blog post.. Tusk – The Resisting Dreamer (2007)

January 4th, 2008 at 7:47 am

Great topic. Working on including these ideas to my forum now.

January 6th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

hi every body i am new n got a quick question bout the site.

how can I add a skype chat username to my details page?

thanks ahead of time

February 1st, 2008 at 9:12 am

Here is the correct one:
Edit Viewtopic.PHP

Replace –

$page_title = $lang[‘View_topic’] .’ – ‘ . $topic_title; with

$page_title =$topic_title .’ – ‘ . $lang[‘View_topic’];

or let it be just $topic_title

Shashank’s last blog post..Honda Develops 3D Processors For Its Asimo Humanoid Robot

February 3rd, 2008 at 7:01 am

Hi guys,
Please, tell me
information,that is most popular about anything,but only legal and not adult.
Thanks for the info.

June 1st, 2008 at 6:02 pm

you have a very nice community ,
thank you for the valuable information.

July 4th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

On phpbb-seo you may download prehacked phpbb3 package for seo using

August 25th, 2008 at 6:11 am

Is this gonna end someday??

August 31st, 2008 at 3:08 pm


I am wirting a news article about online shopping sites that are not well known but have excellent value.
What are some of your favorite places to shop online and how would you rate them over:



December 13th, 2008 at 4:26 pm


January 2nd, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I had gotten off the the wrong foot with my website and I noticed that Google Webmaster Tool stated that I had a lot broken links and duplicate content. Is there anything I should be doing to speed up damage that has been done by having broken links and duplicate content listed even after I had some of the links and stuff removed by Google?

January 2nd, 2009 at 10:20 pm

There is also a WordPress plugin available for all the wordpress users with PHPbb called PHPbb recent topics.

This will allow you to display a widget on your blog notifying blog viewers of your recent posts in your Forum.

May 7th, 2009 at 2:24 am

Greetings everyone, this is my first time posting here.
Does anyone know the best place to get vitamins and healthcare supplements online?
I appreciate any feedback you can give me.

July 7th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thats Great Relly usefull info in this blog am so happy to read Thing Thanks alot

October 15th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Just wanted to say hello all. This is my first post.

I hope to learn a ton here.

November 7th, 2009 at 2:35 am

Is social media going to kill SEO?

December 15th, 2009 at 3:50 am

Great Advice!

December 6th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Great tips. Hope i will use this in my planned phpbb forum


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