Search engine data has become the lynchpin of many companies today, making or breaking certain business models. At the heart of this are the firms that handle this data and harness it to its full potential, drawing actionable data for businesses to analyze and use.
SEMrush, a US firm, is one of the key firms driving this data revolution.
AMEinfo had the opportunity to speak with SEMrush’s Head of Communications, Fernando Angulo, to learn more about their business and the latest data trends in the region.
This is the second part of a 2-part interview feature. In the first half, we explored 5 key areas UAE e-commerce firms need to focus on.
Currently, Voice Search is a major trend in SEO. Why has it gained such popularity, and what other trends have you observed in the GCC market?
I was in Dubai last week. While there, I was looking into how people are using search engines – in this case, Google. I was searching in English and Arabic and I tried to identify the trends that apply to most of the countries in the region right now.
I found that search features, or Google’s organic results, are very rich in this region. I was really impressed by the number of search features that Google is offering. I saw many feature snippets, videos, images, rich snippets – a majority of Google’s search engine offerings. I don’t have any doubts that shopping results will appear when searching on Google in the GCC. When a Google search in a country nets shopping results, it means that this country ranks high on Google’s search list.
How would you define rich when describing search results?
The search results I found in the region are very structured in terms of their snippets and data, which helps the user efficiently find what they’re looking for.
For example, say I want to find an ATM on Saturday. I go to Google, and enter that I need the location of an ATM that is nearby to me and is available within its working hours. I just want to find that out. I don’t want to enter a web page or navigate through one – I just want that information.
In the UAE, when I made such a search query, I got the results I was looking for. I found out the bank’s location, working hours, and even noticed some comments and reviews by other users giving feedback about the bank.
In some other countries, say like Slovakia or Slovenia, they don’t have these results. They’re in Europe, yes, but the UAE has better search results. Most likely there are more people using Google for these kinds of searches, and Google is therefore investing a lot of technology into ensuring these detailed results are available in the country.
Not even Sweden or Norway have these rich results yet. When I was in Oslo, clients would come to me and say that they don’t have these kinds of results yet. They have them to a certain degree, but they’re not as complete as some of the results in the Middle East.
Why do you think that is? Sweden and Norway are some of the most advanced countries in the world with high mobile and internet penetration. Why would they not have these rich results?
I have my own opinion on this, since Google is not telling anyone why they are doing that. I believe that it’s because of the [low] population, which is like 5 million in Finland and around 8 million in Norway.
English also plays a role. Their rich results are probably due to the volume of search queries that Google receives from the GCC in English. Search results are more optimized for English queries.
Despite this, I found while I was in the UAE that even Arabic results are really rich and structured as well. That was really impressive.
It’s also highly possible that the large expat population in the UAE, which uses English as its common language with Emiratis and other foreigners, has also driven this push towards richer English search results, and in turn boosted the country’s ranking with Google.
Recently, your UAE keyword database tool doubled to 30 million in 12 months, clearly indicating growth in demand for UAE digital marketing. How is your database being primarily used, and what actionable results are digital marketers seeing?
Our UAE keyword database doubled in the past year, because more people were asking us for more information about the relevant keywords in their market. The 30 million keywords represent all the popular keywords that people in the GCC are using. Any keyword from any industry you’re looking for, you’ll find in SEMrush’s database. You’ll also find any related searches to that keyword.
The most popular search term in the UAE was digital transformation in internet related online searches. The top 3 most searched terms were digital transformation (which was a top searched keyword in the US 8 years ago), cyber security and digital marketing.
Search popularity for these terms is really important to us. These top keywords indicate that the regional market is becoming really mature. There is a need for knowledge in these three fields.
Where do you see the SEO field heading in the UAE in the next 5 years given the innovations currently taking place?
Voice search will be the primary search method used with mobile devices, be they a smartphone, a smart watch or even smart glasses. This will apply to the whole world and not just the UAE in the coming years. Voice search is definitely here to stay, and to be developed by companies like Google and Microsoft. It is the next big thing in the market.
Right now, the use of voice search is still pretty basic, asking simple questions like ‘What is the weather?’ or ‘What is the time?’ When we begin to develop more search queries based on conversations, with conversational search optimization, that’s when we’ll really arrive at something impressive. You’ll be able to talk and have a real conversation with your device.