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Giorgos January 6th, 2010 03:49 AM

Beyond search engines
 
Suppose you own a forum which is hosted by a free service. That means you have a second-level domain name, such as mysite.freeservice.com.
You did your best to submit this site to all known and most used search engines. This site won't appear among the first results of a search because it needs traffic, is that correct?
Then, suppose you have about 20 members with a similar number of posts made mostly by you. You realize that you're getting new members every now and then, but these members remain silent. 95% of the posts are made by you and when you ask a question, you get no replies.
I know it's a common problem with common answers but seriously, what would you do?

Hope this is the right forum to ask this kind of question.

Thanks a lot!

julien January 6th, 2010 04:32 AM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
Hello Giorgos. My answer will come in several points:
1) Free hosting services are not free ... in fact, they annoy your visitors with ads, and the income derived from them is nowhere to be seen for you. Therefore, it's as if you were purchasing your own hosting, except that you do not have control over the ads, you enjoy a very limited freedom in the way you manage your web space, and your website is perceived as "cheap" if not "spammy" by search engines (except if you purchase your own domain name, but then the inner pages of your website will not have their urls indexed I guess, and this is very poor seo practice). In any case, it's always best to purchase your own top-level domain name and web space ...
2) A web forum needs to gain some momentum in order for the web traffic to take off and for your forums to get a life of their own ... typically, this can be achieved by providing sufficient quality content on your website and featuring the forums as a place to discuss such content, or by gathering a core of "forum starters" (friends of other enthusiasts) to keep the forums updated during their beginning, or to engage into an online marketing campaign (which can prove costly), or to use another website or forum as a launching point (which has been the case for our computer forum, and is a reason why it will still take a while for the forums to truly start living on their own). Whatever method you use, organic traffic from major search engines will play a pivotal role in allowing you to reach the critical traffic point above which your community will be able to develop on its own ... the reason for this is that forums hardly grow by word of mouth; rather, they rely upon their content in order to receive more web traffic from major search engines ... (typically, the web traffic mix for my forums is 50% from search engines (typically Google) and 50% return visitors (direct url or other referrals).

Giorgos January 6th, 2010 10:04 PM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
Thanks a lot for sharing this information, Julien.
I agree on your point about free web hosting services. Most people consider them as spam and they never sign up. On the other hand, I'm not sure whether sites hosted on these services are doomed. It's true I haven't seen any "professional" site hosted on free servers, but is it really worth the try?

julien January 7th, 2010 12:56 AM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
Free hosts are kind of blackmailing you in the end ... pause for a while and think about it: all the URLs from your website that were indexed by search engines will be instantly removed if you switch to a different host and get your own domain one day ... you will thus lose all the hard work of many years. When you own your own domain name and independent hosting, on the contrary, you retain the possibility of switching web hosts as you please (provided that you didn't sign up for a long term contract) and thus preserve all the urls that were indexed by google (since they will remain the same no matter which web hosts you pick).
My advice: ditch the free web host while you still can !

Giorgos January 7th, 2010 02:19 AM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
Thanks again, Julien!

CRGreathouse March 2nd, 2010 04:18 PM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by julien
Free hosts are kind of blackmailing you in the end ... pause for a while and think about it: all the URLs from your website that were indexed by search engines will be instantly removed if you switch to a different host and get your own domain one day ... you will thus lose all the hard work of many years.

HTML5's rel="canonical" will hopefully remove some or most of the sting.

musicworld1 June 30th, 2010 09:17 PM

Re: Beyond search engines
 
what search engine work?


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