Riyadh SEO Guide
In this guide we will show you how to get your website to rank highly in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. We will outline many factors unique to SEO in Riyadh and discuss various aspects of SEO that will be the same throughout the world. If you don’t want to do this on your own and are looking for help with Arabic or English SEO in the Arab world, please contact us.
SEO Competition in Riyadh
One of the factors we look at when judging how competitive a market appears to be is the level of awareness of SEO in that market. In Riyadh, we find that in general the number of websites competing for keywords across valuable industries is relatively low and in our experience, there are few savvy SEO experts or consultants in Riyadh when compared with competitive markets in the region and around the world. This means the Riyadh market is ripe with opportunities for many industries but the time to start is now as it will not remain minimally competitive for long.
Factors to consider before you try to rank in Riyadh
A few factors you need to consider before you choose to start optimizing your website for the Riyadh market include the following:
- Are Saudi Arabians already buying your products and services?
- Is there significant demand in Riyadh for what you offer?
- Is this a key market for you or just a small market?
- If you have a local presence in Saudi are there requirements you need to adhere to on your website in your industry?
- Are you prepared to do business in Arabic?
The basics of getting your site to rank in Google in Riyadh?
1. Keyword research
Keyword research in Riyadh is like doing keyword research in other markets with a few caveats. As mentioned in other places in this article, Arabic is the primary language of this market. Doing your initial research in Arabic is essential. Since a large percentage of the upper class and expats living in Riyadh use the internet in English, you also want to do your research in English too. Google’s keyword planner is a good place to start but if you have some budget for your keyword research, we like using KeywordTool.io and Ahrefs to help us get a full picture of which keywords to target.
There are definitely some nuances to doing keyword research in Arabic so we’ve written a few articles that will help you find keywords some tools might miss. We recommend checking out the following articles before starting.
2. Assigning keywords to the proper pages
Once your research is complete and you have a list of keywords you want to target you should assign or map groups of 3-5 similar keywords to relevant pages on your website or create new pages to target them if the relevant pages don’t exist.
3. Use your target keywords in the title, URL, and Meta description
After the assignment of keywords to corresponding pages you need to make sure to include the keywords in the titles, URLs, and meta descriptions of the page in a way that sounds natural to humans while at the same time making sure the primary keyword for the page is in each of the three elements of the page. You need to ensure these elements sound natural in both English and in Arabic.
The next step is writing the content, in most cases, this will be in Arabic and in English. Creating lots of content on each page that you’ve assigned keywords to will help the page rank for the target keywords and variations of the keyword. Typically, we recommend writing just a little bit more than other competitors targeting those keywords. Since many Arabic search results pages are not competitive, by writing lots of Arabic content you will find you naturally rank for lots of long-tail variations of keywords.
5. Local Riyadh links
Attracting local links is important once you’ve completed the content. Links prove to Google that your website is valuable enough for someone to send their hard-earned traffic from their website to your website, so they help your website rank better. The links you have from other countries and regions to your website will be valuable, but you also want to get some local links. Here are some ideas on where you can get local links.
- Local Business Clubs for Your Industry
- Riyadh Event Sites
- Local Niche Directories
- Riyadh Resource Pages
- Community Pages
- Partner Sites
- Vendor Websites
- Local Contests That Have Websites
- Riyadh Job Postings
- And More
International Targeting for Riyadh
If you have an international single domain website that ranks in multiple countries typically the easiest way to get specific pages to rank for keywords that are specific to Riyadh is to use long-tail keywords with “Riyadh” in the keyword and to have an address on the page in Riyadh that is inside of an HTML address tag. That said, if you have an international website and you are just trying to rank in Riyadh but your keywords aren’t specific to Riyadh your aim should be to rank internationally for a keyword whether its in Arabic or English.
If however, you have a local website based in Saudi the best thing to do is to have a .sa or .com.sa domain to let Google know this website is for users in Saudi. If you don’t have a Saudi domain extension then you can just set your international targeting in Google search console to Saudi Arabia.
How important is it to have a .sa domain?
Only a small number of websites that rank in Saudi have a .sa or .com.sa domain right now so from the results we see a .sa domain isn’t very important. That said it can give your website a slight advantage so if you are only targeting Saudi Arabia it can make sense to purchase a .sa domain.
Local Riyadh Website Hosting
At the moment we aren’t aware of any company that actually provides local hosting services with servers located in Riyadh. For most small websites you should host your website in Europe and then use a CDN like Cloudflare to speed up your loading times for Middle Eastern countries. That said, AWS recently started providing hosting on their servers which are based in Bahrain, which is very close to Riyadh. If you have a very technical team to set up the hosting with AWS and need your website to load extremely quickly this might be your best option.
Google Maps optimization
If you have a physical address or location in Riyadh it makes sense to do local SEO or Google maps optimization. Here are the keys to getting into the local search pack in Riyadh.
- Having a local business with a Google My Business page
- Consistent Business Name, Address, and Phone number on Saudi business directories your website is listed on
- Getting genuine reviews on Google and other review sites
- Attract links from other websites in Dubai
- Including important local keywords with your local listings and web pages
Maps optimization is a bit tricky in that even if you do all the optimization correctly if your address is much further away from the area the user is searching for in Riyadh you will find you won’t rank if there are many competitors closer. This is because Google is serving up the most relevant results, not just the best results.
Ways to Appear local when you don’t have a local presence
If you don’t have a physical address in Riyadh but still want to rank for keywords that users in Riyadh are searching for there are a few ways to make your website more likely to show up for local keywords.
- You can try to target longer tail keywords that don’t show up in the local search pack. So instead of writing about Riyadh Investments by itself you could write a Riyadh investment guide
- You can purchase a local address from a virtual office company like Regus and then use that address in your local listings.
Note on the Importance of Mobile
For many of the websites that our company works on, more than 95% of the traffic comes from mobile devices in Riyadh. Whenever you are optimizing a website in Arabic mobile should be the primary screen you are looking at. Most marketers do their work on a desktop computer so it’s important to try to constantly look at the mobile version of the website each time optimizations are made so you have the same experience as the end user.
Seasonal Search Engine Opportunities
Marketers targeting Riyadh can take advantage of spikes in traffic during different seasons and special days. Some of the seasonal opportunities in Riyadh include the following.
- Saudi National Day
- Eid Al Adha
- Eid Al Fitr
- Certain companies can also benefit from a spike in tourists in Saudi in general during Hajj and Umrah.
Riyadh is a big spread out city that takes more than an hour to drive across when there is traffic. In light of this, some businesses, especially local ones may want to target various districts and neighborhoods of Riyadh with their SEO efforts, so they rank across the city for various long-tail keywords.
- Al-‘Olayya & Sulaymaniyyah
- Diplomatic Quarter
- King Abdullah Financial District
Near by cities worth optimizing for as well
Saudi has a few other big cities with lots of consumers and businesses. If you are serious about getting a lot of customers in Saudi Arabia as a whole we recommend that you target these cities with your SEO efforts too.
Riyadh is a thriving market at the center of the Arab world with many marketing opportunities. We hope you found this Riyadh SEO guide useful.