When you start with your free forum software, you already have to keep in mind that you could move to Vbulletin, Xenforo someday if your forum starts to be profitable.
Be prepared to use redirections:
All your old pages will require pointing to new pages URLs in the new forum software. This will require redirect directives. It is easy because there are plenty of tutorials to add the right directives in HTACCESS to automatically redirect the URL of your old forums and threads to the new ones
However, you can face a major problem. That’s when a webmaster has decided to install an SEO friendly plugin on phpBB, myBB or SMF to convert viewforum.php?f=81&sid=e4df2e7020549513557dbc8ea76420d3 into /forum-SEO-discussions/.
In this case, I haven’t found any resources about redirections. On the other hand, if you decide not to install an SEO friendly URL plugin, The move to a paid internet forum should be easier.
Let’s imagine you want to install a forum powered by a free script like simple machine forum (SMF) and move later on to Xenforo. Before you start, google “how to move from SMF to Xenforo”. You must check if there is an import module and redirect directives to add to htaccess for it.
I have witnessed several situations of forum websites where the webmaster has decided to drop ALL the old URLs from the old forum. It means there were not 301 redirect to the new URLs. I looked at the web traffic of those forums and I discovered that they re-started from ZERO just like it was a new forum. I think those webmasters succeed in importing their thread to the new forum but most of the time they drop the URLs. So, it is like starting with a brand new websites with many pages.
Be prepared for exporting your old forum:
In a paid forum software, you can find import modules that allow you to import forums. This module usually
This issue explains why it is better to start with a paid forum software rather than a free forum software. Don’t forget that all the paid forum applications come SEO features out of the box. For instance, the SEO friendly URLs is a default feature of Vbulletin, Woltlab, Xenforo.
- Install phpBB, SMF or MyBB. Don’t install SEO friendly plugins. and check if you will able to import it into a paid forum software like XenForo, Vbulletin or Woltlab.
- Check if the redirects will be possible.
- Create a second directory and upload the paid forum software to it.
- Import the content of your old forum to the new forum using the importer provided by the paid forum software.
- Create redirection directives from the old page URLs of the old forums to the new page URLs of the new forums.
- Delete the content from the old forums but keep the htaccess config file in place.