Firms in the UAE need an online facelift
It has been another scary year for people surfing the web.
Scary because websites have been around for over 20 years and yet people - including multi-million dollar corporations - continue to traumatise us with ugly sites containing weaknesses ranging from broken links to photos that fail to show.
Businesses do not play nice with potential customers who make the effort to visit them online. Instead, they assault them with blinding banners, amateur animations and plenty of pop-up ads.
Worst of all, after committing these design crimes for all the world to see, the information on these lurid sites isn’t even up to date.
“The majority of sites in the UAE are not updated,” confirms Meghna Kothari, director of McCollins Media.
“While about 20 per cent of companies do invest in revamping the sites,” she says, “a huge percentage don’t bother to update either content or technology, even when it comes to simple, yet important, things like social media integration or optimising sites for mobile viewers.”
“They don’t understand the potential of the web and how to use it to drive traffic to their brands to get more business,” she adds.
Gulf regional manager for Google, Mohamad Mourad, says another major challenge is not having enough Arabic content.
“Despite the fact that Arabic is the fifth most-spoken language in the world, and Arabic speakers account for around seven per cent of the world’s population, it’s said that Arabic content makes up around one per cent of the global content available on the web.”
Mourad also reveals that, “searches per day in the MENA region have shown 25 per cent year-on-year growth” indicating how quickly the number of users is growing.
However, “If you build it, they will come,” is simply not good enough for the web. You are one website in a billion. If you want to succeed with a website, people have to be able to find you. This is done in several ways, but most importantly through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
But Kothari insists companies first need to understand what SEO really is and how it helps.
“SEO is just a term companies hear about and they know it’s something good,” shares Kothari. “They know they should be doing it.”
7DAYS digital director Will Breitholtz says firms shouldn’t be daunted by the popular new practice.
“SEO is not particularly complicated - however it can be quite involved if you haven’t considered it before, which is why I think people tend to neglect it,” he explains.
“Most sites I see when producing SEO reports for clients only need two or three simple changes in order to make a huge difference to their search performance.”
Mourad says that to be successful, webmasters must base optimisation decisions on what’s best for the visitors to the site.
“They’re the main consumers of their content and are using search engines to find their content. So, focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results,” he explains.
“Search engine optimisation is about putting your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.”
But with the web search giant constantly trawling the web to find sites to add to its index, it’s never too late to get on board. Even if you’re a small firm preparing your first ever website Mourad promises that “inclusion in Google’s search results is free and easy”.
So get busy upgrading your site - that means making it easy on the eye, and then making it easy to find.
For a free SEO report for your website email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.seo-7days.com