XenForo Search Forums vs. Tags

  • Thread starter EmeraldHike
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EmeraldHike

EmeraldHike

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Last year some time, XenForo added a feature called "Search Forums" to their software that I've been playing around with. Apparently, this type of forum looks just like the traditional type to the user, but behind the scenes, they behave very differently. Here's a link to the release notice from XenForo themselves:

https://xenforo.com/community/threads/search-forums-seo-improvements-and-dev-team-news.181244/

Basically, members would post a new thread in a traditional forum and people would view that thread right on the appropriate forum page. It's been like this forever. Now though, members would do the same thing, but the site admins can also create search forums that are able to search one or multiple forums for keywords, start dates, popularity, etc... and then present that search forum on the site as a widget, a page, or as part of another forum. It's basically like displaying search results on the site, but results that look like a forum list. It's very cool and an extremely helpful feature.

I've used tags in the past to break down and filter out threads from very popular forums. Sometimes the thread list is so long I don't think search engines ever get around to crawling those on the deepest pages. That's why I set up the tags - to access those older and deeper sitting threads. I have had luck with the tags, but now with the onset of these search forums, I wonder if I should be automating the process of "tagging" or "searching" for threads. For instance, let's say I have a forum about motorcycles and for Harley Davidson Sportster threads, I would tag them with "Sportster." Wouldn't it be easier to avoid tagging all of these threads and just set up a search forum with the condition of searching for "sportster" in the thread title? Tagging is a pain because I am the only one doing it. I do it to all appropriate threads. It's tiring to say the least, but I do it to aid in navigation and to spread around some link juice (pagerank). I'd much rather stop all the tagging though if a search forum could do the same thing.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel about search forums versus tags?
 
JodyBuchanan

JodyBuchanan

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Search forums are awesome and I do use them, but not really for any sort of actual keyword searching. I have found that they don't do a thorough job. As an example, let's say that you have 1000 Sportster threads in a forum, but only about 50 of those actually use the word "Sportster" in the thread title. The search forum would only return those 50, leaving the others behind. As far as I know, the search function of these forum types only searches the thread titles and not the description content, so you're limited to that. If it were to search the body content and post content, I'm sure that would be a huge resource hog on a hosting server. The results are cached though, so perhaps it wouldn't be. But still, I am not confident that you'd be able to pull all the threads out that you wanted to.

xenforo-search-forum-thread-criteria.gif

See the Title field? That's the search criteria and it only searches thread titles.

With tagging though, you have the potential for a much more granular approach. Because you're adding tags to each thread that makes sense to add one to, you're giving that real world human review. So each and every thread that makes sense to tag gets tagged. You can't get any better than that. Also, that's what multiple forum (discussion board, community) mods and admins are for, so if you don't have any, start thinking about adding some. They can take a lot of the work off your shoulders.

I mostly use the search forums to list the "most recent" or "latest" threads for groups of forums. So if I had a discussion board about farm animals and I had a bunch of sub-forums that covered each and every type of farm animal, I'd set up a search forum to display all of the most recent threads in each sub-forum, all in one place. It makes navigation much easier. Guests and members don't need to go hunting for the most recent threads in each and every forum.

I hope this helps.
 
XenForo Search Forums vs. Tags was posted on 07-07-2021 by EmeraldHike in the Tech Forum forum.

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