Need SEO advice - combining two websites to make one
I run a large, busy forum, lets call it Forum A. It ranks at the top of google for its niche.
I've bought a smaller forum, lets call it Forum B. It also ranks at the top of google for it's niche.
Forum B's niche is a sub-niche of Forum A, which is why I bought it.
I want to combine Forum B into Forum A, and then redirect the Forum B URL to Forum A URL.
Is there a method I need to take to ensure that Forum B's niche remains at the top of Google rankings? Or do you think Forum A will also rank at the top now for Forum B's niche, as it now has all the content?
By doing this you may loose your Forums B ranking from 1st of 2nd but it booms the Page rank of Forums A as your Forums B is also popular for it's niche but i don't think that you're going to get any rank for Forums B keywords.
If Forum B's webhost allows 301 redirects, then set up equivalent webpages on Forum A and use the 301 to redirect users and SE bots to the new URL. Google will redistribute Forum B's link juice into Forum A with this approach.
OK, now here's an answer that involves a lot of boring work. I recently did something similar for a client where the webhost would not do a 301 redirect.
I assume, Forum B ranks highly because it has lots of backlinks. You do not want to lose the value of those backlinks.
So one approach is:
Keep Forum B as it is, preserving the URLs.
Duplicate all webpages on Forum B on Forum A with a Forum A URL
Use the rel="canonical" header meta tag to point all Forum B webpages to their equivalent Forum A webpage.
Visitors who enter through a Forum B webpage you allow to view that Forum B webpage, until they want to post a message. The message should be posted on Forum B and the Equivalent Forum A webpage, but the user now routed over to Forum A.
Sure it might be difficult to set up and involve on-going maintenance issues etc. But, this will preserve all the link juice that has been accumulated by Forum B. In addition, it will redistribute that link juice into Forum A.
If you combine them both under one URL, then you're going to put all your eggs into one basket and all the SEO power will come from Forum A.
If both forums run the same software (and same version) you might want to look at combining the user tables to make one central table. This way a user can log into either forum with the same username & password. Then you're free to setup cross linking from within the individual forums (just like a category etc), and clients can flip back and forth just as if it's a single forum. At that point you'd retain your rankings in the search engines as the domains would never change, and since they're in the same niche field (or closely related) you're now taking TWO spots on search results rather than just ONE domain spot.