By Naguib Toihiri, SEO Department lead, RBBi
Every minute, more than 500 new websites are created, adding to the billions of sites already online. Once a new site is launched, the primary challenge is to get people to visit it. Search engines such as Google are a key source of traffic, but if you want to gain visibility for your site, you need to be ranked highly. Almost 60 per cent of users click on the top five Google results, so, unsurprisingly, achieving a high ranking is a top priority for many businesses. Let’s look at five ways to differentiate your website from your competitors so you can reach the top of the search engine results page.
Publish content that answers your customers’ questions
The adage “content is king” is as valid as ever in 2017. The best way to get visibility online is to publish fresh content regularly.
This content should have real value and demonstrate your expertise by answering your users’ questions. Our research shows that searches for question-based queries have increased vastly in recent years. This is because search engines are considered reliable sources for getting the right information.
If a search engine considers a page as the best source for answers to a question, it rewards it with enhanced top placement on a SERP (Search Engine Result Page). This takes the form of an answer box, which automatically gets the most visibility and clicks.
For example, when you type “who is the ruler of Dubai” on Google, it returns the answers it judges to be most relevant at the top of the page (in answer boxes). To benefit from this top-ranking result box, you need to discover what your users’ questions are and optimise your website content accordingly.
Localise your content for your target audience
Translating your content is not enough if you want to target users in another country. To target the audience better, it is essential to localise your content using a native speaker, especially if you are targeting Arabic-speaking audiences.
For example, the word “tomato” can be localised in four different versions for the UAE (طماطم), Lebanon (بندورة), Egypt (أوطة) and Morocco (مطيشة).
The same applies for city names that have different versions in Arabic. For example, Sharjah can be written as “Sharjah” (شارجا) or “Sharqah” (الشارقة) and Casablanca as “Casablanca” (كازابلانكا) or “Ad dar al Bayda” (الدار البيضاء).
Optimise your pages for long-tail queries
For competitive industries such as banking, it can be very difficult to rank at the top positions on Google for broad search terms – for example, “banking” or “loans”. It can be far more effective to target “long tail” searches. These are essentially long phrases or sentences that are asking very specific questions. When optimising your site, the title of your page should contain the most important keywords and summarise the topic of the page. Instead of using a generic title such as “Bank in UAE” (short tail), you can use a more specific product and location (long tail) “Personal Banking Services in Dubai”. You can also use this technique in the body content, where integrating long-tail keywords or queries is relatively easier and comes across as natural.
Adopt the mobile-first approach
Google is about to release a mobile-first index update that will impact negatively on non-mobile friendly websites. This is because, once the update is rolled out, it will favour mobile-friendly websites more in search results compared to the sites that are not.
Ensuring websites are as mobile-friendly as possible will enable brands to maximise this opportunity. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have some of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world, so having a mobile-friendly website will offer a better user experience and will allow users to engage more with your website.
Use paid search for immediate visibility
It usually takes between two to three months for a website to rank organically on Google. Paid search, such as Google AdWords, enables a website to rank highly immediately. Using PPC (Pay Per Click) to promote your website will get you instant results and it’s easy to manage your budget and measure your ROI.
Additionally, specific geo-targeting (at the city level, for example, the ad will be shown in Dubai only) gives you much more control over how you target the right audience.
There are no shortcuts to increase your website visibility. It’s a long-term process that can test your patience, challenge you to leave your comfort zone and encourage you to meet user demands and market fluctuations proactively.
However, in the long run, it will grow your business and take your company to new heights of profitability, brand recognition and success.
The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Gulf Marketing Review.