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I have a blog and a forum in the same domain.

The forum has over 300.000 topics with millions of posts.

A fair share of this content could be treated as thin content with lots of pages being around the same keywords.

For example: my blog have a great post about "muscle gain", but in the forum there's, literally, 2000 user-generated pages "targeting" this same keyword.

With the recently core updates, I was thinking that separating the forum from my blog could optimize SEO.

PS: the blog brings the majority of the traffic (not the forum).

Could this be a good idea to prevent penalties now and in the future ? Maybe I'm missing something ?

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tl;dr either use a different subdomain or noindex your forums

There are actually two questions here, and the answers should guide your decision.

  1. Are forum threads 'thin content'?
  2. Will forum threads rank higher than my blog entry for [a certain keyword]?

If #1 is true, then #2 is unlikely to happen (unless your blog article somehow contains less information than the threads).

Does Google consider Forum Threads as Thin Content? Probably

Two threads (caveat: before 2015) suggest that Google might treat forum discussion threads as thin content.

Your two options here are either to noindex the entire forum (so Google doesn't see the threads) or move the forum to a subdomain (eg forums.yourwebsite.com). Even so, you might have to noindex the forums if you do get hit by thin content penalty eventually.

But wait, why even keep the threads indexable?

Discussion threads are great for super long-tail keywords. When someone asks a question in your forum, they're likely to also ask Google that. Your discussion threads have some search value, especially for specific, niche queries.

The two sources I cited came from forums - Moz and Search Console specifically. If any site has great search practices, it's them.

Letting your forums be indexed can bring you long-tail search traffic.

To mitigate any thin content penalties, put your forums on a subdomain And you definitely need to noindex certain pages with duplicate/similar content, such as user profiles, reply forms and so on. Then, as an additional bonus, if you notice a particular thread getting a lot of traffic and activity -- time to write it up as a blogpost.

There is also an unanswered query from here that never got a substantive reply: Could adding a forum hurt SEO?

| improve this answer | |
  • This is a wise strategy. I doubt ALL of the posts are thin content and therefore would only consider going the subdomain + noindex liberally approach. Also, if a "thick" post on the forum happens to be in the question/ answer format, you could then apply Q&A structured data to it and possibly get it a rich result in relevant Google searches: developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/qapage – I Capulet Sep 1 at 0:29

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