Dubai-based research firm Madar reports that Arabic-speaking Internet users should grow to 43 million in 2008 from 16 million in 2004. The Arabic online market should grow to $150 million in 2008 from $10 million at present. How can your business get ahead of the competition in this fast growth market?
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The answer: Form your Arabic SEO plan and team now while your competitors are afraid to. (You will see why later in this article.)
You may be thinking, “Here we go again. First I spent money on Chinese translation. Now you want me to spend money on Arabic translation and localization, too? Will I get the return I expect?”
You may know that English is the language of choice on the Net, accounting for 70% of today’s 12 billion websites. So, if you decide to “go Arabic”, will anyone really see your efforts? If you understand and can deploy some of the new IT trends, the answer should be yes. See below for these trends.
In a press release dated April 26, 2006, European search engine Seekport, along with its the Saudi Arabian partner MITSCO Group, announced plans to launch the Internet search engine "Sawafi" ("sandstorm" in Arabic) later this year. Sawafi is specifically designed to meet the challenges of the Arabic language vs. Net presence. Specifically, “Everything is to play for Arab world of 280 million people, where Internet penetration is low. There are also large expatriate Arab communities in Europe and North America. There are only 100 million Web pages right now in Arabic, and that's nothing. It's only 0.2% of the total worldwide.”
Company spokesmen stated, “The search engine index is to provide a complete range of all Arabic language websites, in combination with English and French language contents from Arab countries. An important factor will be the adaptation of search to the specific needs of the Arabic user while addressing the numerous peculiarities and dialect variations of the Arabic language. Current search algorithms in the usual Internet search engines are hardly capable of observing even the simplest morphological conditions required to process Arabic-language contents in a meaningful way for users. That is why search engines have so far been under-used in Arabic.”
Are you still not convinced that Arabic SEO is worth your time and money? Via its blog, Google recently activated its Beta version of its online Arabic translation tool. One of the goals is to make the Arabic-language more versatile in Internet terms. This is in addition to Google’s current Arabic search engine efforts. Can improvements based on the new Sawafi competition be far away? What about Yahoo and the other majors?
Now it’s time to go back to your Arabic SEO. Where and how can you tap into the online Arabic-speaking market? By finding a search engine optimization company that specializes in Arabic-language search engines and that has top-notch English to Arabic translation talent.
Your Arabic SEO firm should also understand that there are many Arabic-speaking markets ( vs. , for example) that require different translation, keyword and tag strategies. They will also need to understand the Arabic- (and English-) based search engine algorithms and placement techniques. This type of knowledge is imperative for you to reach your target market.
So, how do you get started? To be honest, you are going to need to do some research. Search engines don’t show much under Arabic SEO so a better venue is Arabic website-specific forums and message boards. Or, try contacting a proven Arabic translation services provider that offers localization.
I never said that going Arabic would be easy, but the potential payoffs are well worth the effort in terms of future profits. Without SEO, you will get nothing.