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Dammam SEO Guide

dammam seo guide
Any savvy digital marketer seeking to grow in the Middle East needs to understand SEO in Dammam to position their business in the fastest growing city in both Saudi Arabia and the greater Arab World. The capital of Eastern Saudi Arabia is more than just an administrative center, it is also a massive commerce hub attracting talent and investment from around the world. This detailed guide will move you through the most effective Dammam SEO steps to set your business apart and ahead in this strategic city.


Why Dammam is worth targeting with your SEO efforts


Located nearly 60 miles away from the world’s largest oil fields, Dammam has experienced a boom of wealth and business growth in the last 70 years. In only a decade, the city went from a sparsely populated seaside village to a city with over one million people. Today, it is the largest city in the Eastern Province, and the fifth largest in Saudi Arabia, after Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina. It is the center of the Dammam Metropolitan Area, which together with cities Al Khobar and Dharan forms part of the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Saudi Arabia. These oil fields have attracted a lot of foreign investment and talent and tens of thousands of expats have moved here.


Dammam thus lives and breathes business and the infrastructure reflects that. The King Fahd International Airport is the largest airport in the world in terms of land and the King Abdul Aziz Sea Port, the largest port on the Persian Gulf and the second largest (only after Jeddah) in terms of import/export traffic in all the Middle East or North Africa. Every day, tens of thousands of new people with new goods and new ideas arrive in Dammam. Dammam is connected to Riyadh and Jeddah by Highway 40 to the West Coast; to Bahrain by the 28 km long King Fahd Causeway; and to other Middle-Eastern countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.


Dammam Street


What makes now the perfect time to expand your business to Dammam


As all of Saudi starts to transition away from oil to invest in other sectors, Dammam will be a major city driving this innovation. The culture of growth and innovation is embedded in the city’s DNA. They already have the infrastructure to support millions of people and their substantial bank accounts; it’s time for your business to position itself to succeed in this new wave!


Keys to ranking in Dammam


1. Dammam Keyword Research

The first and arguably the most important step is to determine what content is actually wanted by Dammam’s inhabitants. You could produce the most quality written content, but it will all be for naught unless the topic is actually interesting to the people who live here. There are many free online tools to aid you in your search such as Google’s keyword planner, Wordtracker, and Ranktracker.


2. Assigning keywords to the proper pages

In order to catch all the variations of searches, it is important to find related keywords to the ones you identified in the previous step. Once you have these maps, you can start assigning them to your site’s corresponding pages. In many cases, you may need to make new pages to ensure an authentic distribution throughout your content.


A great place to look for related keywords is the bottom of a Google search. Google is already telling you right there what is related. Here is an example of related keywords to “restaurants in Dammam”. You can find top related terms such as “Pakistani”, “Indian”, and “Buffet”.


damman google search results for restaurants


3. Use your target keywords in the Title, URL, and Meta description

When items come up in a Google search, web surfers only have a slight peek into what the article is about with the Title, the URL, and the Meta description. Thus, you need to strategically place your identified keywords into these prominent outward-facing elements of your article. If your keywords are placed here well, it not only is a signal to the search engines that this is important, but it also conveys reputability to the reader.


4. Content

Now that you have done all the necessary research to advantageously position yourself, comes arguably the most important step: actually writing out the content! You can have the most perfectly optimized site, but you aren’t going to capture the reader’s attention unless you are delivering quality content. Ensure you are writing informative and engaging material that is respectful of Saudi tradition and is not filled with fluff.


5. Local Dammam backlinks

An excellent way to build rank is to find local businesses that have agreed to post links to your site. These backlinks create more connections for you and signal to the search engines that whatever is on your page is important. This step is daunting, especially if you are not in the country, so the following sites are a good place to start for making connections:


  • Business Clubs for Your Industry
  • Dammam Event Sites
  • Business Directories
  • Vendor Websites
  • Expat pages
  • Dammam industry Facebook groups to start to make connections


6. User experience for Dammam website visitors

Similar to any other website, your credibility will be assessed by visitors instantaneously according to the quality of their user experience. You want to ensure it is bilingual, welcoming, respectful of local customs and standards, and easy to navigate. Graphics, colors, sizing, and font considerations are critical to your success as well. Looking at best practices of Dammam’s already ranking websites will help you to transfer these qualities to your business as well.


The following is a screenshot from one of the most successful eCommerce business websites in Saudi. You can also observe the currency, country, and language toggle at the top left of the page.


Ecommerce Website in Dammam


Other important parts to ranking in Dammam


The Arabic Language

Dammam is an especially unique Saudi city due to the massive quantity of expats that live here thanks to the oil industry. Out of the city’s total population, 25% are non-Saudi. While these thousands of foreigners speak a multitude of different languages, Arabic still reigns supreme as the city’s most used language for personal and professional matters. Depending on your target market, you can always include others, but it is generally recommended to use a combination of Arabic and English.


For more information about doing SEO groundwork in Arabic, check out our other guides:

Arabic Keyword Research

Arabic SEO Guide

How Arabic keyword spelling can impact Google traffic


Using the .sa or .com.sa Domain

Currently, only a small percentage of Saudi ranking websites actually have adopted the .sa or .com.sa domain. From this, we can infer that it is not crucial to have it for business success. However, could it potentially give you a competitive advantage? Yes, of course. But there are absolutely more significant factors to consider when building your site. Ensure you master steps 1-6 above before pondering this question.


Regional Hosting

Unfortunately, the Kingdom does not currently have high quality hosting sites. But luckily for Dammam, the city is just across the water from one of the foremost hosting options in the entire Arab World, Bahrain. Your business can thus benefit tremendously from one of the top-notch Bahraini hosting sites, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). The proximity will yield rapid load times, which will strongly benefit your business.


Geo-targeting parts of Dammam

As Dammam is a massive city with a highly diverse population, it would be helpful to pinpoint where exactly you would like to reach with your efforts. Learning the neighborhoods where commerce, expats, industry, restaurants, and entertainment thrive will help you to create more targeted content. In no time, you will be ranking highly in these specific districts.


The following image is a comprehensive map of the population and industry distribution.


dammam city landuse map



We hope you found this comprehensive guide to SEO in Dammam helpful! If you have any questions or want help ensuring your business is ahead of the curve for this strategic city, contact us today.





Jordan Boshers

Jordan Boshers is the Chief Digital Strategist at IstiZada, a digital agency that helps companies market to Arabs. He has 10+ years of experience running successful digital marketing campaigns in the Arab world. His insights into Arabic SEO helped him grow previously unknown websites to dominate Arabic niches on Google including growing one site from 0 to more than 1 million users monthly. Jordan has consulted for hundreds of companies including helping corporations like Amazon, Berlitz, and Exxon Mobil with their Arabic digital marketing. Learn more here or on LinkedIn.