I seem to have the weirdest issue with Search Engine Optimization, and I asked the IT folks at my university, I asked people on Joomla forums and I am trying to sort this issue out using Google Webmaster Tools for more than 2 months to little avail. I want to know if I have some blatantly wrong configuration somewhere that is causing search engines to be unable to index this site. I noticed a similar issue with another website I searched for online (ECEGSA - The University of British Columbia at gsa.ece.ubc.ca), making me believe this might be a concern that people might be looking an answer for.
Here are the details: The website in question is: http://gsa.ece.umd.edu/. It runs using Joomla 2.5.x (latest). The site was up since around mid December of 2013, and I noticed right from the get go that the site was not being indexed correctly on Google. Specifically I see the following message when I search for the website on Google:
A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt – learn more.
The thing is in December till around March I used the default Joomla robots.txt file which is:
User-agent: * Disallow: /administrator/ Disallow: /cache/ Disallow: /cli/ Disallow: /components/ Disallow: /images/ Disallow: /includes/ Disallow: /installation/ Disallow: /language/ Disallow: /libraries/ Disallow: /logs/ Disallow: /media/ Disallow: /modules/ Disallow: /plugins/ Disallow: /templates/ Disallow: /tmp/
Nothing there should stop Google from searching my website. And even more confusingly, when I go to Google Webmaster tools, under "Blocked URLs" tab, when I try many of the links on the site, they are all shown up as "Allowed". I then tried adding a sitemap, putting it in the robots.txt file. That did not help. Same exact search result, same behavior in the "Blocked URLs" tab on the webmaster tools. Now additionally, the "sitemaps" tab says for several links an error saying "URL is robotted out". I tried those exact links in the "Blocked URLs" and they are allowed!
I then tried deleting the robots.txt file. No use. Same exact problem.
Here is an example screenshot from Google's Webmaster Tools:
At this point I cannot give a rational explanation to why this is happening and neither can anyone in the IT department here. No one on Joomla forums can seem to understand what is going on.
Based on what I explained, does it seem that I have somehow set a setting in the robots.txt or in .htaccess or somewhere else, incorrectly?