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Dubai SEO: The Comprehensive Guide – 2024 Update

If you want to capitalize on business prospects by improving your visibility in search engines in Dubai, this Dubai SEO guide is for you. Though there are many similarities in how SEO is done in different cities around the world, this guide delves into a variety of aspects of SEO in Dubai that may be useful both for do-it-yourself marketers and those looking to gain an understanding of the competitive landscape of online search in the city.

SEO Awareness

In 2024, Dubai will have a higher relative awareness of SEO than most other Middle Eastern cities. A variety of variables contribute to this. There is a significant Indian IT presence in Dubai, and given the popularity of SEO in India, this has increased awareness of SEO in the region. Dubai is also a tech hotspot in the region, with parts of the city dedicated solely to the Internet. Despite the popularity of SEO, there is a lot of confusion about proper practices and the distinction between black hat and white hat (Google approved) SEO.

Factors to consider before attempting to rank in Dubai.

Before we begin discussing how to rank effectively in search engines in Dubai, We want to discuss whether it is worthwhile to strive to rank in Dubai. Here are some of the elements to consider before deciding whether it’s profitable to optimize your site for high rankings in Dubai.

  • You have a huge audience for your product or service in Dubai.
  • Your audience in Dubai is large enough to justify an investment in SEO.
  • You have the opportunity to offer your products or services in Dubai.
  • You either have a presence in Dubai, or you can deliver your products or services to Dubai.
  • You are committed to making a long-term investment in SEO. Good SEO results take time and will not appear instantly.
  • Search Engines in Dubai

Google is the leading search engine in Dubai. Yahoo and Bing account for less than 3% of the total search market, thus Dubai marketers should prioritize Google optimization before considering Yahoo and Bing optimization. With Bing’s incorporation of ChatGPT in 2024, we may see Bing’s market share increase over the next years.

Search Language


As a multilingual metropolis, Google realizes the importance of offering its search engine in various languages in Dubai.

Arabic

Given that Dubai is a Middle Eastern city with a large Arab population, Arabic is undoubtedly an important language for searching. Though Emiratis make up a minor proportion of the population, many other Arab people and families from other Arab countries reside in Dubai. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Arabs travel to Dubai for holiday each year from neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. All of these people speak Arabic as their first language, thus marketers who want to be genuinely effective in Dubai must master Arabic SEO.

English

Given Dubai’s multiculturalism, English is likely the most widely spoken language within the city borders. English is a commerce language that helps individuals from all over the world who live in Dubai to communicate efficiently. English is also one of Dubai’s official languages, and it appears in the majority of the emirate’s advertising. If you want to target any of the expatriates who live in Dubai, English is most likely your first choice for SEO efforts. Furthermore, English is the most commonly spoken language among tourists visiting Dubai. So, if you want to target tourists who visit Dubai, you should utilize English.

Hindi

Despite being an Arab city, Dubai’s largest ethnic population is from India. This means that if you want to effectively reach the nation’s largest expat population, you should consider optimizing your website in Hindi as well as English. However, depending on the sort of product or service, adding Hindi may not be worth the time and effort. This is because many upper-class Indians speak English fluently and conduct business mostly in English. On the other hand, those who use the internet in Hindi are less likely to be affluent or upper-middle class. Many of those who use the internet primarily in Hindi are most likely migrant workers employed in low-wage industries such as construction or other manual labor positions. Regardless, if you truly want to capitalize on all of Dubai’s opportunities for online marketing of your products and services, you should consider targeting Hindi speakers because they make up such a large portion of the population and have a lot of purchasing power as a group.

Farsi

Dubai is located right over the Gulf from Iran. Because of its proximity to this Farsi-speaking country, Dubai is home to a large Persian population. Furthermore, Persians played a significant role in the development of what is today known as contemporary Dubai. Many Persians hold prominent positions in enterprises around Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. As a result, they continue to wield considerable influence in Dubai’s economic community. Though many of these Persians are used to conducting business in English and occasionally in Arabic, Farsi is their native language, therefore optimizing for Farsi may be worthwhile if you want to reach this sector.

Urdu

Many Indian and Pakistani citizens of Dubai speak Urdu, a language close to Hindi. Although fewer people speak this language than Hindi, it is nonetheless significant for many of the same reasons. However, if you aim to sell to Urdu speakers in Dubai, keep in mind that the majority of Urdu speakers are Muslims, therefore your messaging may change in some circumstances.

The fundamentals of getting your website to rank in Google in Dubai.

  1. Keyword Research

Keyword research, as with any other market, serves as the foundation for your SEO activities. It’s critical to understand how your potential clients in Dubai are searching for your products and services using tools such as Google Keyword Planner and other paid tools. It is critical not to assume that you will target the same keywords as you do in other cities and nations throughout the world, as each market is distinct. Because Dubai is a multi-ethnic metropolis, potential clients may use a range of search terms to find your products and services. As a result, many firms in Dubai discover that targeting a wide range of keywords related to their industry can be effective in capturing traffic from a number of demographics.

Keyword research should take a significant amount of time and work since if done right, your SEO activities will run considerably more smoothly and give far better results than if done poorly and the wrong keywords are chosen. If you’re targeting local keywords, try adding keyword modifiers to some of your industry keywords to see how people search for them locally. This could include phrases such as “restaurants in Dubai” or “Dubai dentist”.

Once you’ve identified which keywords are most suited to your website, you must decide how to target those keywords across various sections of your website.

  1. Assigning keywords to the appropriate pages
    After you’ve completed your keyword research, you must take your list of keywords and decide which keywords to focus on for specific pages on your website. You may already have certain pages on your site that can be assigned a group of three to five comparable keywords, or you may need to construct new pages for specific keywords discovered throughout the keyword research process.
  2. Include your targeted keywords in the title, URL, and Meta description.
    Use the keywords you assigned to each page’s title, URL, and meta description. Because you’re targeting Dubai, you could want to include the city’s name, as well as other keywords, in the page’s title. If you’re targeting a certain area of Dubai, it might be worth including that in your headline.
  3. Content
    Content is critical to achieving SEO results. If relevant keywords and variations of those keywords do not appear in your website’s content, Google may have difficulty indexing it. Search engines often cannot see the content included within images, videos, and other design components on a page, so they rely mainly on the website’s text content to assess how relevant it is to a given subject area or search query.

We do not recommend using your target keywords extensively in your text. Modern search engines are extremely sophisticated, therefore utilizing a keyword only a few times is typically sufficient. However, using synonyms and terms linked to your goal keywords will assist Google understand exactly what your pages and website are about. As a general rule, look at other websites in your field and aim to have 20% more material on your pages than theirs.

Remember that you aren’t just writing content for the sake of writing content; visitors to your website will also read it. In light of this, attempt to make this information entertaining, fascinating, and worthy of your visitors’ attention. You should strive to add value to the website visitor’s experience by including key features and benefits of your services and/or goods in the content. If your aim is to persuade the visitor to take an important action on a page, such as a sale or a sign up, use calls to action to guide the visitor toward your desired outcome.

  1. Local Dubai Links
    Getting links from local websites indicates that your site is also relevant to Dubai. In many businesses, having a presence in Dubai makes it easy to locate possibilities to gain links from other websites in the city. Here are some excellent examples of the types of links to look for.
  • Local Business Clubs for Your Industry
  • Dubai Event Sites
  • Local Niche Directories
  • Dubai Resource Pages
  • Community Pages
  • Partner Websites
  • Vendor Websites
  • Local Contests with Websites
  • Dubai Job Postings
  • And More
  1. User Experience for Dubai Visitors
    This is usually the most overlooked aspect of SEO, but it may have a huge impact on how high your website ranks. Many websites find that they do everything correctly and are able to climb the ranks to the first position in Google for their target keywords, but their rankings quickly plummet back down. This is typically related to the page’s user experience. Even if all of the other SEO elements are excellent, this one flaw can jeopardize your potential to rank in the top tier. In essence, this means that when people arrive at your website and don’t discover what they’re looking for, they rapidly leave and return to the search results. This tells Google that your website isn’t related to that search query, and if this happens frequently enough, Google will begin to rank other websites higher in search engine results.

In addition to other more technical SEO components, you should consider your website’s design, user experience, and how professional it appears to potential clients from Dubai.

International Targeting for Dubai

We discovered that because Dubai is a hub for Gulf business, many websites in the region use.ae domains. Though this signals to Google that the website is only for the target audience of people who live in the Emirates, it may also be considered as important to the rest of the GCC because Dubai is regarded as the GCC’s business hub. If you choose a.ae domain name and yet want to target GCC nations, you should either update your Google Webmaster Tools location option to “unlisted” or utilize the hreflang tag to do so.

How significant is having a .ae domain?


We looked at ten competitive search terms in Dubai and counted how many.ae websites appeared on the first page of Google results. In around half of the situations, no.ae websites appeared on the first page of Google. In the remaining cases, one or two.ae websites ranked in the top ten. Only in one case did we locate four.ae websites on Google’s first page.

According to the facts presented above, owning a.ae domain is not required to rank well for the majority of keywords. Having said that, it has been demonstrated in numerous situations that country code top-level domains such as.ae provide a website with a slight advantage in ranking well in Google in that nation, all other circumstances being equal. It’s possible that because this domain extension is relatively new, few companies have invested in it. However, this may change with time.

It may be of interest to note that we discovered that in many situations, there were more.ae domains appearing in Google’s paid search results for most search queries than in organic search results. This could be due to the fact that paid marketers are generally more online knowledgeable than many websites that appear in organic search results.

Another intriguing aspect is that when Amazon entered the Middle East market and purchased Souq.com, they chose Amazon.ae as their primary name for the UAE, despite the fact that Souq.com did not utilize a.ae domain. When Amazon established Amazon.sa in June 2020, it followed the same strategy with a country-specific domain in Saudi Arabia.

IstiZada’s recommendation: If your primary emphasis is Dubai and you are eager to rank rapidly, we propose getting a.ae domain. However, if you already have a website or your primary emphasis is not Dubai or the UAE in general, it is unlikely that purchasing and using a.ae domain is worthwhile at this time.

Local Dubai Web Hosting


Several providers in Dubai offer local website hosting services. It’s actually one of the few cities in the region with dependable locally based servers. In principle, this should help enhance local and regional rankings for websites hosted on local servers, however because it is more popular to host websites on servers in other nations across the world, we lack sufficient data to confirm this is true for Dubai. If you are considering hosting locally for SEO and to enhance page load speeds, we strongly advise you to ensure that your hosting company has servers in the UAE and is not simply a reseller of hosting services with servers located outside of the nation. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, now provides local hosting in Dubai with price tiers to accommodate websites of various sizes.

Google Maps Optimization

Local SEO can also be referred to as Google maps optimization. Businesses in Dubai with a physical location can profit from this form of optimization. Map optimization is based on a few fundamental criteria.

Owning a local business with a Google My Business page

  • Consistent business name, address, and phone number across all sites where your firm is listed.
  • Getting real reviews on Google and other review sites
  • Obtaining links from other high-quality Dubai websites.
  • Include vital local keywords in your local listings and web pages.
  • Of course, there are other factors that can influence local rankings, but the five listed above are likely the most important, and there isn’t enough space here to go into detail.

Ways to Appear Local if You Don’t Have One in 2024

If you have an international company and want to rank higher in Google’s local search results in Dubai, you can target local keywords on parts of your website’s pages or create a portion of your website dedicated solely to Dubai. Google will hunt for the most geographically relevant results in your industry, but it will also consider factors like your website’s authority and relevancy to the industry issue you are targeting. As a result, if you can create exceptionally relevant, interesting, and valuable material about a topic linked to Dubai, you may be able to rank for this term. For example, the term “Dubai Investments” may be one you want to rank for, but you don’t have an office in Dubai. However, you do provide Dubai-related investments. You could produce an in-depth guide on the best investment opportunities in Dubai, and if it’s useful to your target audience, you might wind up ranking for the keyword “Dubai investments”.

Obtaining an address in Dubai is another option for businesses looking to appear in local search results on Dubai search engines. Many new businesses in Dubai use services such as Regus or SERVCORP to establish a local virtual office in Dubai, even if their main location is elsewhere.

Next, we will look at some examples of organic local search results from the perspective of someone living in Dubai.

Local SEO in Dubai: dentists, lawyers, restaurants, and hotels.

Below, we will look at some of the local SEO results in Dubai for Arabic and English.

Let’s begin with the competitive field of dentistry. We search for the keyword “Dentist in Dubai” in the example below, which is most likely the top keyword for this industry in Dubai.

The results above show Google displaying a three-pack of local results. Surprisingly, all three results have a large enough quantity of excellent reviews to warrant stars next to them. It’s also worth mentioning that firms who choose not to compete for SEO ranks will face fierce competition in English for paid ad placements on this results page. All of the ad places on the first page of Google are taken, making this a tremendously competitive PPC keyword.

Surprisingly, Arabic results now include the normal three-pack of local results displayed above. However, when we examined the map results, we discovered that there were relatively few optimized Arabic business pages. This appears to be a significant possibility for firms offering services to Arabic speakers. Every year, one million tourists from Saudi Arabia visit Dubai. Many Saudi tourists visit Dubai for its shopping and less stringent laws. This is not to mention the local Arabs who live in Dubai.

Restaurants

We also searched for “burger restaurant” in Dubai. The following is a snapshot of what we witnessed in English.

Again, we see a three-pack of local search results, albeit in a slightly different style. There is a large map on the right side for directions. The remaining results that appear below this box are standard website search results. Most of the restaurants listed here have relatively few reviews, and the listings do not appear to be effectively optimized for Google searches.

The Arabic search results for the identical question were very different. See a snapshot of Dubai search results below.

In this scenario, we see the regular 3-pack with surprisingly more reviews than the English ones, with ordering websites, listing sites, and review sites taking up the majority of the top spots on the page. Again, we notice that Arabic local search results in Dubai are significantly less competitive than English ones.

For our final search, let’s check beyond Dubai for the Dubai-related keyword “Dubai Hotels”.

Hotels appear to be a popular industry in Dubai. Above, we notice that one hotel has 2.5k reviews! We also notice advertising in the first few results, followed by various hotel review and booking sites.

Arabic search results for the same keyword were identical.

Dubai’s Mobile Search Results

Mobile Search Results in Dubai are critical given the region’s high smartphone penetration. Here’s a screenshot of one set of findings from an iPhone 13.

It’s worth noting that in the screenshot above, there are no organic search results visible above the fold of the page on one of the largest mobile devices accessible. This indicates that some sectors may struggle to compete in the mobile search arena if they do not use paid search ads in addition to SEO.

This is not true for every industry, but in Dubai, where mobile searches are popular and competition is intense, paid search looks to be a must. Furthermore, if you are not in the top three positions, which may be expensive, your odds of receiving a visitor for a search query like this are slim.

Above, we see the results of an Arabic search query for an internist. There is only one sponsor in this situation, therefore optimizing for organic results makes a lot more sense. We also conducted the search in English, which we did not give a picture of. The search revealed that there was only one advertisement, but several organic results appeared with Google’s regular 3-pack and map.

Given Dubai’s tech-savvy culture and big number of mobile users, most businesses can’t afford not to have a mobile-friendly site, and Google has made this even more important. If you want to attract mobile traffic in Dubai, you need have a mobile-friendly website.

It appears that the results you receive on mobile vary depending on language and industry. Each organization should consider the keywords that are important to its industry in order to identify how to best appear in Google results for related search queries. For some businesses, this may imply paying Google Adwords to appear in the top ranks, but for others, it is sufficient to rank well in organic search results, particularly in Arabic, where competition is significantly lower in Dubai.

Seasonal Search Engine Opportunities.

Many SEOs believe that seasonal opportunities are ideal for capitalizing on huge surges in search volume that can be grabbed during seasonal search inquiries. Here are some of the holidays in Dubai that may result in seasonal search volume increases for specific items and services.

  • UAE National Day
  • Commemoration Day
  • Eid al Adha.
  • Ramadan
  • Eid al Fitr.

Dubai News Results:

Accepting news results on Google.ae is identical to accepting news results outside of Dubai. Here are the Google News guidelines. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when searching Google News in Dubai.

Google will prefer local news websites and websites that are popular among residents, even if they are not from Dubai or the UAE.
There is significantly less competition to appear in Google news results in Arabic than in English. This is primarily due to a lack of optimization understanding among many Arabic publishers, fewer Arabic publications, and a failure to conform to Google’s quality requirements in many instances.

Dubai Image Search

Getting photos to rank on Google.ae is similar to getting them to rank anywhere else in the world. Alt texts are necessary so that Google can understand what the photographs are about. The authority and relevancy of your website, as well as the text around photos, can all help to ensure that the images on your website appear in Google search results for various keywords. The one thing to consider with Dubai is that certain photos may be banned, but this has no bearing on their ranking.

Social Media’s Impact on Dubai SEO

Contrary to popular belief, there is no conclusive proof that social media has a direct impact on SEO; nonetheless, it can have a significant indirect impact. This is not different in Dubai. With among of the world’s highest internet usage rates, many people in Dubai are quite active on social networking platforms. If your website’s content is popular on social media, it can be shared and discovered by other websites, which can then link to it, thereby improving search engine rankings.

Geotargeting Opportunities

In addition to targeting Dubai as a whole, some types of businesses may find it beneficial to be more particular in their targeting, focusing on specific locations of Dubai relevant to their target demographic. Below is a list of some of the most important regions in Dubai to target. Businesses wishing to target these locations with SEO efforts can consider including the area name in their website content or obtaining an address in the area listed on their website.

  • Dubai Airport Free Zone
  • Dubai Cars & Automotive Zone
  • Dubai Healthcare City
  • Dubai International Academic City
  • Deira
  • Bur Dubai
  • Jumeira
  • Sheikh Zayed Road
  • Downtown Dubai
  • Dubai Marina and Palm
  • Dubai Internet City
  • Dubai International Financial Centre
  • Dubai Knowledge Village
  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Gold & Diamond Park
  • Dubai Multi Commodity Centre
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis
  • International Media Production Zone
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone
  • Dubai World Central Business Park

As you can see above, there are several regions to target in Dubai. As a contemporary city founded on the purpose of attracting business and global attention, Dubai created themes for various sections of the city. We go into detail on a handful of these topics that may be relevant to your business.

Dubai Internet City

Dubai Internet City is home to the vast majority of Dubai’s internet enterprises. Many firms founded in the Freezone are exempt from paying taxes for the first 50 years of operation and are not obliged to have a local owner. Businesses seeking to target other internet companies, especially local offices of giants like as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google, might benefit from targeting this district with their SEO efforts.

Dubai Media City

Dubai Media City has emerged as the regional hub for media activity. It is also a free zone and is home to media firms such as MBC and CNN. If you want to reach out to the Middle Eastern media industry, here is an important region to focus your SEO efforts.

Dubai Festival City

Dubai Festival City is not a Freezone, unlike some of the city’s other themed districts, although it does have a considerable number of houses, commercial buildings, and offices.

Dubai Healthcare City

Websites wishing to target and drive traffic to medical products, services, and content should focus on Dubai Healthcare City. The city’s medical area was meant to attract medical tourists from all over the world. Today, in addition to hospitals, it houses businesses and academic institutions related to the medical industry in Dubai.

Nearby emirates are also worth optimizing for.
Contrary to popular opinion, Dubai is not an independent country. It’s only one of several emirates. If you are considering targeting Dubai with your SEO efforts, you should also consider targeting these other emirates, as Dubai is not the only rich emirate in the UAE. The following is a list of the other Emirates in the UAE.

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Sharjah
  • Ras Al Khaimah
  • Ajman
  • Umm al-Qaiwain
  • Fujairah

Dubai Search Trends, 2024

According to Google Zeitgeist’s annual search trends 2022 report, the most prevalent search questions in the UAE in 2022 are as follows:

General

  • 1) FiFA World Cup
  • 2) Wordle.
  • 3) Expo 2020
  • 4) Ministry of Community Development (MoCD)
  • 5) Russia/Ukraine news
  • 6) Monkey pox
  • 7) Emirates draws.
  • 8) نافس (Emirati Talent Competitiveness Program to Support the Economy).
  • 9) Earthquake today.
  • 10) Gitex

Censorship

There are instances of censorship online in Dubai, although they are limited to web properties with specific types of religious content and stuff that is inappropriate for young children. Furthermore, Dubai has regulations in place that ban web properties from encouraging people to commit acts of public indecency.

Important Information about Dubai SEO Companies:

Despite the fact that Dubai is the hub of the Arab media business, the majority of SEO agencies in the city are run by non-Arabic speakers. Typically, these agencies are manned by Indians, Pakistanis, and Filipinos with little or no knowledge of Arabic and Arab markets. Few Dubai SEO services have a large number of Arabic speakers on their teams. In light of this, if you need assistance reaching Arabs in the region, look up the agency on LinkedIn and see how many Arabs they have actively working for them. If it’s two or fewer, their UAE SEO results in Arabic are likely to be limited.

Conclusion

SEO in Dubai is still not very competitive. If you decide that Dubai is a crucial market for your company, you should notice that by following some of the methods discussed in this article, you will begin to rank higher on Google. Please keep in mind that, like other forms of marketing, SEO requires consistent effort and time to yield results. Companies who test some of the above-mentioned tactics momentarily but do not continue will see modest outcomes. If you don’t have the time or skill to implement these techniques, it’s a good idea to engage an experienced agency to assist you in achieving the desired results.

Sarah
Sarah

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