To expand your business reach to one of the world’s wealthiest nations with one of the highest internet penetration rates, you must master SEO in Qatar. This article provides a step-by-step guide to how to effectively position yourself to rank in Qatar searches. We give an overview into the why, the how, and the when. As the world turns its attention to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, don’t let your business be left behind!
Why Qatar is worth targeting with your SEO efforts
Blessed with the world’s third most oil reserves, this small gulf country has the highest GDP per capita (nearly $20,000 more than the next country on the list). The profitable natural resource deposits have led to a plethora of cash-rich Qatari citizens and companies that make up a large percentage of this population of nearly three million people. Qatar is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and their population has more than doubled in only eight years. This is because they also have no personal income tax, and are the only Gulf Country to offer permanent residence for expatriates. Thanks to this robust economy, Qatar has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, 0.21% in 2022. Additionally, this year’s 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar, putting the nation on a highly visible international stage for the first time.
What makes Qatar perfect for online targeting
Not only is the country wealthy, but it is extraordinarily well connected to digital services, making it an ideal place to target with your efforts. The UN Broadband Commission 2015 report for Digital Development ranked Qatar first among developing countries for percentage of population and internet usage. In the same report, they also ranked second internationally for the percentage of households with internet connectivity. Both the internet and the social media penetration rate are 99%, and 132% of the population uses a mobile phone.
Keys to ranking in Qatar
1. Keyword research
To successfully manage SEO in Qatar, you must conduct research into what topics matter to Qataris. Learning which keywords are frequently searched for online will allow you to recognize what you should create content on moving forward. As described later in this guide, both Arabic and English are widely spoken throughout the country, so it is crucial to conduct research in both languages. There are numerous online keyword finder tools available to aid you in your search: such as Google’s Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, or Woorank.
This guide helps provide more context for online behaviors of Qataris for your reference: http://istizada.com/qatar-online-marketing-profile/
Here is an example of an Arabic Google search in Qatar focusing on hotels:
2. Assigning keywords to the proper pages
After completing this research in step one, you should now understand what your customers are interested in searching for. Congratulations! You now should take these keywords and map groups of 3-5 related keywords to matching pages on your own site. If your site currently doesn’t have relevant pages, they need to be created.
3. Use your target keywords in the Title, URL, and Meta description
After you have identified which pages need to be expanded upon or created, the keywords need to be incorporated in an organic, but prominent way. Embedding them directly in the title, URL, and meta description are crucial. As these are the most important parts of an article for SEO, you need to ensure that they come up first in an online search.
Now that you have the skeleton outline of the page comes the fun part: the content! It is your time to produce significant content on these pages that will drive up the page rank in relation to the target keywords you have identified. For example, if your website published content about Qatari hotel reviews, using long tail keywords like “what is the best hotel in Qatar” will attract a wider audience opposed to the seed keyword “hotels Qatar.” To ensure you stand out from the pack, make sure you write professional content that is lengthier than other content already on the internet.
Note: if you intend to post sensitive content that would be considered controversial or inappropriate, it will be censored. Qatar currently filters criticisms of Islam, negative framing of gulf countries, LGBTQ issues, and more.
5. Local Qatari backlinks
Having prominent local sites and blogs linked directly to your content will prove that local people endorse and approve of what you have to say, as a sort of stamp of approval. To reach this step, outreach will enable you to build long-term relationships with local influencers in your industry, and backlinks as a result. These relationships will demonstrate your company is reputable and trustworthy amongst local Qataris. This is very important for Qatar SEO. We recommend finding local businesses to connect with. The following are examples:
- Qatar Event Sites
- Doha Community Pages
- Doha Neighborhood-Specific pages
- Local Business Clubs for Your Industry
- 2022 World Cup event registries
- 2022 World Cup online blogs
- Doha Expat websites and listings
6. User experience for Qatar website visitors
Customers will judge the legitimacy of your company based on their experience on your site. You need to make sure all of your relevant pages are visually appealing as well as easily navigable. Both the layout and the design are crucial to obtaining and retaining your visitor base. An easy step is to make content in Arabic and have a language toggle at the top of the page allowing visitors to select which language they want their content. This ensures you are capturing both primary markets. You should also be cognisant of Islamic beliefs informing local customs and avoid offensive or haram images on your screens. Showing that you respect the local culture and are knowledgeable about these intricacies will convey trustworthiness.
Other important parts to ranking in Qatar
Modern Classic Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Qatari Arabic the spoken dialect. English is unofficially used as a second language, and a lingua franca, due to the fact that 88% of the population are expatriates. Especially in industries with a high number of expats (such as commerce or medicine) English is more predominant than Arabic. For your SEO efforts, it is important to understand your intended audience to determine which language you should use. Generally, it is most effective to have a mix of English and Arabic to reach the diverse population.
Link building to rank in Qatar
A high amount of internal links pointing to specific pages on your site will signal to Google that your page is important, trustworthy, and credible so long as it is done naturally and is not spammy. This is an important, but difficult step. Our company can provide you with guidance as to how to properly attract and build links to successfully rank in Qatar.
Should I use .qa or .قطر in my SEO?
.qa is the internet country code for Qatar. Deciding whether or not to use it depends on where your business is. If your business is in-country, this is very important as the .qa domain is fairly popular among citizens. Qataris are bound to appreciate the familiarity with the domain leading them to trust you and your company more. If you are internationally based, using .qa or .قطر is not necessary, but could be an easy way to build trustworthiness among people in Qatar and the greater Middle East.
We are not currently aware of a high-quality Qatar hosting provider with domestic servers. Thus, we encourage you to research larger Gulf hosting hubs, such as Amazon AWS in Bahrain or Alibaba in the United Arab Emirates. Both Bahrain and UAE’s proximity to Qatar will still benefit your business. Understanding exactly what your target audience is will be crucial in determining the location to host.
Geo-targeting parts of Qatar
As illustrated by this photo, over 80% of Qataris live in the capital city Doha. As a result, most of your SEO efforts and content should focus here. However if you are trying to target specific percentages of the population such as expats, upper class citizens, or students, then you should do specific research into what areas of the city they live or work in.
There are more than 60 communities, or neighborhoods in Doha. Here are some popular ones to consider targeting:
Al Sadd: Known as the center of Doha, this area is an expat hub with no shortage of food, housing, and entertainment options
West Bay: One of the city’s most elite areas, this district has many luxury hotels such as the Ritz-Carleton and the Four Seasons. The most concentrated skyscrapers are found here.
Madinat Khalifa: Luxury area home to many families because of the excellent quality of schools, housing, and shopping
The Pearl: Luxury housing communities built atop beautiful artificial islands. First areas in Qatar that give foreigners the ability to own land
Al Thumama: the most popular budget option for expatriates
Other notable areas of Qatar:
Al Rayyan: 10 km out of Doha, this is a quiet suburb of Qatar’s capital. It is notable for hosting the Qatar campus of international universities Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon
Umm Said: The center of industry in Qatar, found 45 km from Doha
Al Wakra: The best retirement area in Qatar for domestic and international guests
Seasonal Search Engine Opportunities
There are certain times of the year where Qataris spend more time on the internet looking for deals, enjoying holidays, and connecting with friends and family virtually. The following times of the year are when internet traffic drastically increases in Qatar, important for any marketer to be aware of.
- Eid Al Adha
- Qatar National Day
- Eid Al Fitr
Due to its high internet penetration and citizen wealth, Qatar is an excellent place to target with strategic SEO. Using our in-depth professional insight into the above strategies, we can help you attract more Qatari traffic to your website.
Contact us to connect with our Qatar experts about how to effectively grow your customer base through SEO.