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I am more or less a novice when it comes to website development, so please bear with me.
I started a new website earlier this year to promote my business. I didn't have much start-up capital so I used a domain registration service that just forwards from the dot com address to the actual location where the website resides--a personal directory on a university's server.
I should state right now that I have used this service before for other websites and it worked fine. The only differences were that the old sites were "dot org" not "dot com" and they had forwarded to the server at a different university. Also, the URL was a student organization directory, not a personal directory.
I got several websites to link to my new page (my tech-savvy friend who referred me to this form told me to say that I "have a PR5 incoming link from a blog (and that it is relatively 'organic') (PR5 - Pagerank 5 - means it's a
pretty decent link)." I used title tags and meta keyword tags, both on my actual webpage and on the form provided by my registrar who provides the domain forwaarding. I even submitted my URL to Google directly using their form.
Well, I can't get Google to pick up my website. At all. Even when I search the name of the website in quotes--five or six results will come up but none for my website.
Well, actually, that's not entirely true. When I click on "repeat the search with the omitted results included" it does show up, at the university address, not the dot com address. But that doesn't help me much. My tech friend can't figure out what the problem is and I am losing a lot of business because no-one can find my website.
Does anyone have an idea of what the problem could be? I'm at the end of my rope here. Thanks!
Remember that when you try to do things on the cheap, (or free), you usually get what you pay for. There are lots of companies that offer inexpensive hosting, that still provide value.
Also, just 1 link, even if it is a PR 5, is not very much. Get some more links, and Google will like your site more.
Also, I do have more than one good link. I have at least 4. My friend was referring to his website and didn't realize that I had other links. If I search for my tour's name in quotes I can easily find the websites that link to mine and I've even gotten some customers that way. But it would be a lot better if people could actually search for my site directly.
I understand that it's hard to get in the top rankings but it seems like every public website should be searchable if you know the exact name. Even if it's in the last page of results, it should be SOMEWHERE. Like I said, I'm not an expert, so if I'm mistaken about this please tell me. I would probably be willing to invest a little money in a web hosting service if I knew it would fix my problems, but what makes you think it will?
My guess would be that spending some money would bring you better returns. There's an old standard in business: "You need to spend money to make money." Trying to do things on the cheap often leads to the worst results.
Also, unless the university actually approves of it, trying to run a business off a university server is not boing to endear you to them, and may actually get you booted from them. From a customer perspective, unless the business is actually tied to the university, it's not going to look good running a business from there either.
If you're thinking you are losing on a lot of business because people can't find your site, then maybe invest some money, even in an adwords campaign. I am not sure what you're doing is bad or good in terms of SEO, or just doesn't matter, but if you want traffic and you want it now, there are ways for it.
Best of luck with your site and business!
I have a couple of clients at the local university with the same issues you have - their sites sit on university servers (in this case, they are actual department project websites) and they have different domain names pointing to them - but in every case, they are indexed by Google at the university address. They only have the separate domain name because it's a lot shorter and more intuitive than the stretched out university subdomain address, and they use the alternative domain in their publications and so forth. Not for search engine purposes.
If you want to be in Google at your domain name, you really need to host your site somewhere else. You can get decent hosting for $6/month or less, if you look around.
Once you do that, then you can address the other issues you might have.