Sorry maybe I misunderstood what SEO is. I just wanted it to appear in search engines, that's all.You've already told us "this is a basic forum, nothing pro". Is it professional or not?
Sounds like you're not really serious about this -- so why should you expect your target audience to?
There is a disconnect here between what you are saying this project is and what you want in it. You want the street cred of your own domain and no other branding on your forum, but you aren't willing to commit to the meager financial support that needs. There are a lot of other ways of promoting a forum (or any website for that matter) than SEO. Search Engine Optimization is a business-level feature. It exists to drive traffic to specific websites for financially competitive reasons. That's not something amateur websites use. I suspect you choose it because it's easier than work of mouth, ads, siglinks and being active on other forums.
If I may be so bold:
All you seem to want from this is "the community" and to be in an upper-level position of it. As someone who has been in online forums for 20 years, do the fandom (or whatever community this is) a favor and don't make this forum. People don't appreciate a poseur trying to "seem professional" only to become an admin-in-absentia (and if you're still in college I can see that happening real easily). Go join a preexisting forum run by someone willing to put his money where his mouth is, and maybe you can rise up the ranks the old-fashioned way.
I just left high school fyi