Updated on:

Local SEO in the Middle East


What is Local SEO

local google results

The main focus of local SEO is getting more visability for a company within certain geographic area or region.  On like traditional SEO local SEO may just focus on getting a Google Place Page or a Yelp page to rank better in local searches as opposed to just the company’s website.  Local searches typically show results for a specific location not nationwide or global results.  An example would be a search for a “five star hotel in Dubai” .  For this you will only get results local to Dubai.  Also, if someone searches from Dubai with the query “five star hotel” they will probably see only local Dubai results.  Local SEO has some overlap with traditional SEO but there are several other factors unique local SEO that can help a website or a Place page rank well for a local search query.


Why is local SEO important in the Middle East 

Anyone who has gone on a trip in the Middle East and had to ask for directions is well aware of the fact that you might not always get the right directions.  Despite many individuals having good intentions, it is very common to get sent off in the wrong direction.  Today, most people in the West are used to getting directions online and finding places of business by looking them up on the web.  If a site doesn’t appear for a search query like  Middle Eastern Food even though that is what the site represents than there is a good chance people won’t find it online so it is vital to have a local presence online.


Audiences that are important for Middle East SEO

Tourists – Tourists from Western countries are used to being able to find what they are looking for locally by looking it up online.  If your establishment doesn’t show up for a search on the first page of Google when someone is searching locally than there is a good chance they might not ever find your business.

tourists in the middle east


Locals – Despite many Arabs finding different places through word of mouth when an Arab doesn’t get any advice or doesn’t trust the advice that he gets he will openly admit that he will look that item up online.  If he can find a what he is looking for in Arabic online he is just like a Western and will probably pick one of the businesses he finds on the first page of Google for his search query.   In addition to this reviews are extreme important in this kind of collectivist society if a site has mostly positive reviews most people will check out the establishment.  If on the other hand it has mostly negative review few people will even bother trying it out.

coffee shop










Particular Hurdles with Local Arabic Search Engine Optimization in the Arab world


Many Countries in the Middle East

arabian flags


With more than 22 countries in the Arab world trying to have a local presence in each of these countries that appears are the top of the search results can be hard.  To see the best results time and money must be spend on local listings online in each nation.




Different local profile sites rank better in different countries

differences in middle east local search results


It is important to note that Local SEO might not work exactly the same in each Middle East country.  In some countries it may be a Facebook page that ranks locally or it may be a Google Place page that ranks well for the same search query in another.  Research and strategy much go into deciding which site is going to work best in which country.  Many countries have local sites that out rank big global local listing sites.


Multi-Language Audiences  

dubai search results arabic vs english


It is important to note that many establishments will need to have listings in both English and Arabic to have the most success.  English listings might work best for tourists and upper class locals.  Arabic will be best for the major of the local population.


Local Strategies and Tactics may be different than in other parts of the world

It is important to note that Google makes updates to this region of the world slower than it does in the Western world so some older optimization tactics may work in the Middle East even though they no longer work in the West.


IstiZada is right for your Local SEO project


  • We are experienced doing SEO in the most competitive markets in the world
  • We understand the Middle East market
  • We can do optimization in both Arabic and English
  • We provide more value for you spend with US



Here is a list of some of the largest markets in the Middle East where a local online presence is an essential part of a good marketing strategy.


Dubai, UAE

dubai local seo

Cairo, Egypt
cairo local seo

Beirut, Lebanon

beirut local seo

Amman, Jordan

amman local targeting strategy

Doha, Qatar

doha qatar search optimization

Riyadh, Saudi

riyadh sem for local


Services you might consider pairing with your local Arabic SEO



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.