1 Aug 2012

Vodacom4me doesn’t ‘exist’ anymore, but people are still searching for it…

I find it curious that in spite of the fact that vodacom4me.co.za has been offline for more than a year and a half that people are still searching for it.

Google’s keyword tool shows that the ‘Vodacom4me’ search term is still typed in to Google more than 90 000 times a month and I count this as pretty significant traffic potential. Vodacom ranks in the first position as one might expect, but this search term on Google remains the highest source of traffic for my free SMS website. Free082SMS used to rank really well in the ‘Vodacom4me’ search results, but then Vodacom introduced CAPTCHA images on their free SMS functionality, Google rolled out the Penguin algorithm update and my ranking crashed to the bottom of page 1.

It’s annoying that my competitor is still ranked at number 2 for the ‘Vodacom4me’ search term. I remember chasing this website as my primary competitor in the old days and eventually I got my site to rank for 3 separate pages, all above this competitor. But it’s like I have been time warped back to 3 years ago and suddenly I’m at the bottom of the pile again. I know I am biased towards my own website but I cannot understand this. My competitor’s website is largely neglected and should frankly be taken offline as it does not offer any value to visitors – it’s broken and has not been updated since Vodacom started blocking free SMS robot sites (though I’m not sure about the working condition of the CellC and MTN SMS functionality). 

It is ironic that I actually made content changes to my website to reflect the change in the availability of SMS from Vodacom, though I think this was not the major reason for my plummeting search position as I have since reworked a lot of the old content back with very little effect on my rankings. I have to unfortunately suspect that the primary reason for my drop is the Google Penguin update, though frustratingly I don’t really understand exactly why it is affecting me (I did not receive any warnings or recommendations in Google Webmaster tools).

I have never paid for any links and I have close to 4000 followers on Twitter (hundreds of whom are genuinely engaged); 200 Likes on one Facebook page and another 82 likes on another Facebook page; I have more than 60 genuine +1s on Google. My competitor has zero social presence and is on the same domain as a blog that was last updated in 2009 – This makes it hard for me to believe that social media is a really important factor in SEO. Never mind the fact that my site actually works, but also looks much cooler than my competitor’s, loads faster and provides a much better user experience (I have received compliments saying as much from several users over the years).

I have gone off at a tangent though. I think that people are still searching for Vodacom4me because Vodacom never really replaced the Vodacom4me brand with anything else and people are hoping to find free Vodacom SMS. Search volume for ‘Vodacom free SMS’ has increased since vodacom4me.co.za went offline and I used to actually rank number 1 for this search term on Google, but annoyingly I am now playing 2nd fiddle on this one to my competitor too! It doesn’t seem to make sense?

No matter, I will figure this out (or Google will realise that Penguin has been unfair on me), I hope…

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