In this episode, I talk to Mazen Aloul, an SEO expert, LinkedIn Author, and the founder of WebQuest, an SEO company specializing in English and Arabic SEO. Mazen has worked with over 100 websites across the Middle East and helps business owners all over the world in getting their website better ranked in Google.

In 2013, Mazen became part of a communications consulting startup and got exposed to the world of SEO as part of the services they offered. As he became passionate about it, he suddenly realized that there was a gap in the market in terms of people having a deeper understanding of how SEO works. After that startup got dissolved, Mazen built his own company, WebQuest, six and a half years later.

WebQuest is now thriving as it continues to serve businesses globally, using techniques and strategies that are based on years of hard work, dedication, and industry experience, and not just on abstract theories.

This episode will be very helpful if you’re starting out an e-commerce business or just simply find SEO too technical and complex – this episode with Mazen will help you de-mystify it.

Connect with Mazen:

Mazen’s research paper on post-COVID search and user behavior:

Keyword Research:

Transcription Services discussed in this episode:

Connect with Dhiren:

Book Recommendation mentioned in this episode:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (by Simon Sinek)

Episode Highlights:

  • SEO and user behavior over the last 6 years (7:38)
  • Tips to become part of the first page of search results (12:57)
  • Choosing the right platform for e-commerce (17:58)
  • Different kinds of SEO and content strategies to use (22:44)
  • How to choose the right SEO agency (26:43)
  • What kinds of content to upload on your website (32:18)
  • What type of content to prioritize based on your audience or niche (35:11)
  • How to customize your SEO according to your audience search behavior and important tools to use (36:12)
  • SEO and website strategies to cope through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (41:33)

Mazen 0:01
Take a look at your website, assuming their website is up and running and say, “What can I improve on the site? Can I improve the descriptions that I have? Whether it’s my services or my products? Can I add more products? Can I add categories? What topics can I write about? What guides can I build? What case studies can I build? What recipes can I publish?” I think this is a good time to factor that in and work on it, simply because, for a lot of people to have more time on their hands, and build that into your website, because that will come and help you on the long term.”

Dhiren 0:36
Hey everyone. Thank you for tuning into a brand new episode of The Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. That’s Mazen from Webquest SEO sharing some great advice about how you can improve your website’s SEO results. Mazen is an SEO expert, and a LinkedIn author, and demystifies the complex world of SEO, aka, search engine optimization, for business owners around the world. If you are running an eCommerce business, or are maybe thinking of starting one, then this is the episode you need to bookmark. Mazen has worked with over 100 websites across the Middle East and helps business owners all over the world in getting their website better ranked in Google. I have to admit, SEO has been a very complex term for me. And I’ve never fully understood the value of SEO in my business. And that’s exactly why I’m so excited to have Mazen on the episode today. Now, before we cue the music, I’d like to take a moment to read a five-star review from a listener of The Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. Caramaliciousal writes, “On target content. Whether you’re starting up a new business, or already have an established one, this podcast gives great insight to specifics and inspires one in their journey to success.” Thank you so much, Caramalicious, for this amazing review. You’ve made me so proud. If anybody else who’s listening to this podcast would like to give me feedback or leave me a review, I would really appreciate that, because it would help me get the show to be better. You can email me at hello@ElevatedEntrepreneur.FM or log into iTunes, and leave me a review. And I’d be happy to feature it right here. Again, thank you so much for that wonderful review, and now let’s cue the music.

Intro 2:33
You’re listening to The Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers, restauranteurs, and entrepreneurs, simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. Here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.

Dhiren 2:50
Mazen. Thank you so much for being on The Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. It’s a treat to have you.

Mazen 2:56
Thank you, Dhiren. It’s a pleasure.

Dhiren 2:59
Thank you. I’ve been wanting to speak to you and talk about SEO. And I think this is a great opportunity, because a lot of retailers and business owners are now going online, and they really want to understand what is SEO? How can SEO help them? And that’s what I want to cover with you today. But before we do all that technical jargon stuff, I want to hear from you, tell me a bit about Webquest, and how you got started?

Mazen 3:21
Sure. I started in the space of SEO around… just over six years ago. And the story behind that is I was part of a startup. I was a partner, there were three of us. We put a startup together in 2013. That focused on communications consulting, here in Dubai, it was going pretty well. But the main founder decided to move back to the US out of Dubai and back to the US. And towards the end of 2013. We decided to dissolve that partnership. But during my experience within the agency, I got exposed to SEO because it was part of the channels that we offered. As part of the consultancy know you do a whole deck of consultancy and you say you have your social channels you have your SEO, you have x y&z and SEO appeal to me at the time. And I realized that there’s a gap in the market in terms of people understanding it or having a deep understanding of it. So when we dissolve that partnership, I decided to jump into it on my own. And six and a half years later on, so doing it, it was an initial exposure and got me intrigued, decided to explore it. And then it just built on from there. So today Webquest has a full time team of five, that’s including myself and a couple of part-timers as well. So grown into six, seven people in the six years.

Dhiren 4:48
That’s amazing. And was not having any background in SEO. I’m sure there was a lot of learning to have been done. How has that happened for you? Is that something that you’ve done some courses on?

Mazen 4:58
Yeah, it’s awesome. going, I’m still learning. Once you get into the field, there is a very strong technical element, there is a strong communications element, the marketing element and analytical element. And it changes really quickly. And when we say SEO, we mainly talk about Google, in most parts of the world, different parts of the world have different dominant search engines. But for the majority of people, it’s Google. And it’s always a fight between those who are trying to trick the system. Those are trying to spam the system and then Google who counteracts that. So it’s an ever vicious cycle of, you know, spam tactics counteract spam counteract. And on the other hand, Google trying to evolve into an answer engine and not only a search engine, like an entity answer engine, so they want to have a searchers experience staying on the platform or they answered most of the query as much as on the platform itself, so this is what you see in the last few years where, you know, you have the answers coming up on your screen in front of you, like the people also ask and the expanded boxes with short answers that are pulled off from other sites, etc. So that evolution is constant. And us as CEOs, on the other hand, have to learn, adapt, and know how to make the best out of the situation.

Dhiren 6:25
Yeah, it’s so funny. You mentioned that answer. But I think I’ve become so used to going to Google and now getting my answer in that top box, right at the beginning of the website, rather than having to go into a website and then read. And if I don’t get that I don’t see that. I’m like, Oh, this question must be wrong. I asked my question all over again. So I get that answer. It’s so interesting. You say that Google wants to become the answer engine and other search engine.

Mazen 6:49
Yes. And that’s why it’s constantly evolving, right? It’s not going to stop here. We’re seeing also more and more growth in voice search. So people directly saying, hey, Google and asking questions and then getting the answer. And this is mainly on mobile devices, but that space is growing. And it also represents the challenge on the other end is how do we as SEOs adapt the websites that we work on for such an environment as well?

Dhiren 7:18
Yeah. And I want to ask you a question about this whole idea of SEO in the UAE because you mentioned that people are doing a lot of mobile devices. And a lot of people are asking questions. And I know you specialize in the Middle East region. Are there any figures that you’ve seen over the last six years that have really surprised you, in terms of search in terms of SEO,

Mazen 7:38
we’re seeing things change. things evolve, and it’s interesting to see how they change. So on the one hand, the rise of mobile device use over the last few years has changed the landscape. It differs from sector to sector. So look at for example, websites that are offering Gift services, for example, you see mobile makes 70 to 80% of the traffic. But when you look at websites that offer b2b services, for example, advertising services or branding services or things that interest a business corporation, you see the desktop is still in the 50 range in terms of search and use for these websites. So it really differs from the sector. Other interesting stats is we’ve seen growth, there wasn’t much in terms of Arabic content and search behavior online for Arabic speakers, those who are surfing with search in English, mostly, but in the last five-plus years, we see a growth in the use of the Middle East, searching more and more in Arabic, and how platforms are adjusting to that, in terms of providing content in Arabic. So you’re seeing certain industries that are completely Arabic, like Fashion news and sports news and of course, General news in common. But that’s trickling down to e-commerce now and b2b, b2c services, which wasn’t the case before, but definitely a space that’s growing as well.

Dhiren 9:15
Yeah, it’s so interesting. You mentioned Arabic SEO. And I know you’re one of the leading experts in the Middle East in Arabic, SEO, because you do a lot of work for businesses that help them in specifically in Arabic, SEO, is Arabic, SEO something that business owners should start looking into? What is your advice for someone who’s just starting?

Mazen 9:35
So the trend is coming right so you can see it? everything’s moving online. Regardless, Arabic, English does matter. So the online presence is only growing. The advantage of moving into Arabic at this moment in time is you get a head start ahead of everybody else. So in most cases, the English industries because everybody’s on Optimizing an English or has an English website, so it’s more competitive or more crowded. But if you look at the equivalent in Arabic In most cases, there isn’t anybody out there who has the same content in Arabic and I’m talking more on e-commerce and b2b or b2c side, that’s started to come up in the last two to three years, but it’s definitely not as crowded as the English landscape for that matter.

Dhiren 10:31
Okay, so I want to bring you back to Arabic SEO in a bit. I want to go back a little higher, because we missed the whole part about what is SEO, you mentioned that SEO is driven primarily by Google, but maybe if you could help explain what SEO is, sometimes it feels like a black box.

Mazen 10:47
Sure. So we say SEO. It’s basically a marketing tactic is the market falls under the umbrella of digital marketing, and it’s showing up for their rights searches. So when people want to find something, whether it’s a product or a service or just when they’re looking for information or research, they go to Google. They go to Google, they type in their query their question, and they expect an answer. Now, a big chunk of those searches are information based, meaning that people want to understand something are looking for information, a definition, there is no intent to transact to buy, right. So they’re just searching for information. Now, when you look at those kinds of searches, and how people react, once they find the information that they’re looking for, they’re usually satisfied. If they’re more interested, they dig deeper. But at the end of the day, SEO, someone like means job is to make sure that a website shows up when a search is typed into a search engine that’s related to what that website does, or sells. Again, looking at searcher behavior. people associate credibility and authority with top-ranking sites. It’s just human nature. So if it’s at the top five of Google, that means it’s authoritative or it’s, well, it’s, quote-unquote, good. Most people don’t bother going into the second page or the third page of Google. And if you’re a business, and you’re not on that first page, then you’re missing out on that opportunity to show up for that search, you’re missing out on that potential sell, simply because you’re not being seen.

Dhiren 12:31
Right? Interesting. You say that, because I think as people we’ve become so spoiled again, because of Google. Like I said, Nobody goes to the second page. If I don’t find my answer on the first page, it’s either the question was wrong, or I need to ask it better. And you’re right, the first top five hits are really where you spend a lot of time. So how does retail business owners just getting started or even a wholesaler or distributor? What does he need to do to become the top five?

Mazen 12:57
If I were to take a step back and see how as soon works. At the end of the day, Google ranks these pages on its results. It ranks them based on hundreds of factors. My job as an SEO is to understand these factors as best as I could, at the end of the day, that algorithm is a Google secret. But very, very few people know how it works from the inside. But that’s where we come and do our research and learn and test things out. But on the high level, that’s how it works. So think of it as an accumulation of many small parts, many small signals that build up to say that your score is the best. That’s why you’re on top of that page. So how does that break down? Is there many, many elements that go into how a website is evaluated? There are elements related to how the website is built, how fast it is? How well is the content written does answer the questions the user is looking for? Does it publish content? on a regular basis, is it being talked about on other websites? Is it active? Are there other sites linking to it? So all this together compiles to help a website rank higher. Now, as a starting business owner, I think the best you could do when you’re starting off is to think for the long term. So SEO is a long term game. It’s not something that you do once and then sit down and expect things to happen. It’s just about being consistent with time and building it up with time. So what you could do if you’re starting up is to choose a platform that’s easy to use. That’s fast. That’s important. That’s mobile friendly. That’s clear for end users. I’d also say I plan on publishing content on a regular basis. That should be a good starting point. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be ranking on top anytime soon. But think long term Because you want these elements to work for you on the long term, to help you rank higher and higher with time.

Dhiren 15:08
Yeah. And I love that you hit the top three, one is thinking long term. Second is have a platform that’s easy but allows for clarity. And finally, third is content is so important. And when you talk about platform, can you share some examples of platforms that you recommend for business owners?

Mazen 15:25
There’s quite a few out there. I would say one of the most common platforms is WordPress. It’s too common to a point that it’s easy to find a developer to help you out if you’re stuck. I think that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t tie you to someone with specific technical knowledge, as opposed to going to build something from scratch. If you build a website from scratch. You’re almost always bound to the developer that built that website. So if that person disappears, or there’s a fallout in the relationship, the business owner is pretty much stuck. And unfortunately, we see that happen every now and then. So I would say the first step is to choose a platform that is easy transferable, if you need a developer. And a very important point to highlight here is, as a business owner, you should be the admin to that platform. You own it, you have access to it, you set it up, or at least you have the accounts that set up because also, unfortunately, we see this often where a business owner outsources this task to somebody else, maybe someone on their team or another agency, and for whatever reason, that party disappeared, and the business owner is stuck, unable to access their own website and it becomes a hassle from that point onwards. So WordPress is a good one. There are a bunch of others out there. So there’s Squarespace, Shopify, those are easy to start off with each has its advantages or disadvantages. And it also depends if you’re moving into an era Or space or looking into a corporate website or anything of the sort. So each one has its pros and cons.

Dhiren 17:06
Right? There’s no silver bullet. And like you said, it depends on what you’re trying to do. So let’s talk about e commerce because I think a lot of business owners these days are talking about e commerce, you know Coronavirus is hit and retail as we know it is changing. People are not going to go in stores, but they’re going to shop online, I think in a lot of business owners are seeing an opportunity. So when a business owner who has been traditionally offline, he or she wants to go online, what are the things that they should look at? You talked about platform, he talked about long term, but in terms of SEO, are there any Quick Hits? Is it or is it more thoughtful?

Mazen 17:42
So I think here it’s very important to plan for the future. If you’re thinking e commerce, so based on what you want to do and where you want to be, of course, your budget and time constraints, those factor into choosing the right platform. So that say for example, Shopify, is a good example of something that you can use to get you up and running very quickly. However, it’s not a good choice if you’re thinking about having shops in multiple countries or multiple languages. So if you want an English and Arabic shop, and you want to sell in the UAE and Saudi, then having Shopify would be paying simply because of how the back end works. But on the other hand, if you’d have a, say, 50 products, and you’re only planning on sending the best in English, then Shopify would be a good choice to start because you can get that up and running very quickly. In terms of the details on what you can do, I’d say, you know, just have clear images, make sure that whatever you do shows up properly on the mobile because that’s mainly how users are going to navigate your website, that it’s relatively fast to load. Because if it’s slow, people will just leave it and that your text and descriptions are easy to read and clear for users.

Dhiren 18:59
Right? So I’m gonna summarize because we went into quite a bit of detail. The first one is platform, right? So you choose something like Shopify, if you’re just starting out, you have a limited number of products, and you want to get up and running quickly. When you have that you obviously want to have good product images. You want to have a fast loading website. And I think if you’re on Shopify, Shopify is gonna take care of all of that, because that’s what they do. But Can someone go straight to WooCommerce? If they see the need if they have multiple shops, like you said, they have some in the US and UAE.

Mazen 19:31
So that’s a different option or next option is to have WooCommerce, which is the e-commerce engine of WordPress, I think you need a little bit more technical knowledge to do this. So a startup business owner can learn how to do this, if they have the time or inclination to learn. They can if not, they might need the help of some developers. But the advantage with WordPress I said is it allows for scalability, it’s much more flexible as a platform In terms of what you can do, and customization, so Shopify has its limits in what allows you to customize. WordPress, on the other hand does not, it just depends on how good your developers are, or how good you are in terms of development. And it’s easy to scale up to a good decent amount of transactions per day. So the scalability aspect is good there. And then you can apply multiple languages, multiple regions, etc. So that can be to your benefit in the long run. I think the analogy I can draw here is as you start looking into a bigger and more complex website, the need for a solid tech team becomes much more important. As a start-up, I’d say Shopify is an option. WooCommerce is an option. If you’re starting to look at a much bigger pool of products, multiple languages, multiple currencies, etc. At that point, probably having some technical on boards would become a necessity more than anything else.

Dhiren 21:04
Got it? So I’m just starting out. I’ve just launched a Shopify website. Is it possible for me to switch in the future? Am I tied to this platform forever? No, definitely you can switch. The smaller the website, the easier the switch is, it’s not difficult. You just need to be careful and make sure that every single product that you have on the old website has an equivalent page on the new website, not only product, every single page, so that includes whatever blog posts you have, or category pages that you have, maybe some case studies, testimonials, etc. So that is probably the most important thing to take. But the transition isn’t difficult. Got it? Because I’ve seen a lot of business owners, they get nervous when they have to make a decision. And they say, Oh, no, I can’t go with Shopify because I’ve heard this and this but I think the point that we want to make here is you could start with one platform, and gradually ramp up as you get to learn more The insides of e commerce because it’s a channel in itself, you can always move up and up. And you mentioned the word analogy. I like using analogies, just like buying a starter car, getting used to driving, and then upgrading your cars. And obviously, your skills will transfer to and all that. But it’s important that you learn this process slightly, rather than just giving it to someone. I think that’s really key. So, you know, I have to admit, as a business owner, I used to think SEO is basically me putting the right keywords on my website, and I think that worked for a certain bit. First of all other different kinds of SEO and what should a business owner keep in mind when they start looking at Seo?

Mazen 22:36
Great question. Yes, there are kinds of SEO. So if I can break this down, based on business objective, right, so the first kind of SEO is SEO for a local business. And this is usually geared towards generating an inquiry or a lead, mainly service-based businesses think like a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, an agency Your objective is to show up when somebody’s searching for your service and have that person fill out the form on your website or give you a call. So you just want that leads to come in. The second kind of SEO is where the whole transaction happens online. And this is where e-commerce comes in. So the whole buyer journey comes online, you show up for a certain search. And then the potential client comes to your website, they see what they want, they see the product, they place it in their cart, and they buy they make the payment, they put on their shipping address. So the whole transaction happens online. And that’s your for a local business strategy and what to look at different from local business versus an e commerce website. A third type I’ll touch on it real quickly is for example, sites that are looking to maximize traffic as much as possible. So with this business model, they mainly have a subscription based model or they’re selling advertising space or it’s an affiliate website. So the more traffic they get the more revenue that they have so slightly different than what you do there also in terms of an approach and strategy is different. So back to an SEO for an e commerce site. That’s our focus. I would say, to be clear on the design aspect to be clear on your category pages, you know, what categories do you have? Be clear on your products, your product images, your product descriptions. So all these matters on the setup, in addition to the ease of platform and mobile-friendliness, and being quick, speedy website, so this matters on the setup side, in terms of once the site is up and running, I’d say just make sure that the site is technically clean, that you’re posting, blogs, for example, or some useful content based on the products that you have on a regular basis. Those really helped more than anything else.

Dhiren 24:57
Got it. I would have come back to content in a bit but in terms Have all of this technical information that you’ve given that this is obviously quite technical? Can a business owner do this themselves? Or should they talk to someone like you,

Mazen 25:09
they can, if they have the time to learn or have the inclination or have a technical background, it’s not difficult depends where you are in that knowledge. So one aspect is if you have the time to learn this, or you have some background and just build on it, it’s not difficult to move into that space. However, I would say, as the website grows, then the technical element becomes more prominent. When you start talking about sites with hundreds or thousands of products. It’s a very different ballgame than a site with only 10 products, right? You have 1020 pages, it’s easy for you to see what’s happening on an individual page, and to monitor controlled set up, configure, etc. But when you’re talking about much bigger websites, then maybe as a business owner, it’s just not worth it anymore, in terms of your time investment and that’s where you might need some help. In terms of doing the SEO element or doing the tech element for that, so it’s just finding that balance between, do I have the time to invest to learn and do this on my own? Or can I spend my time doing other things that are more effective for my business?

Dhiren 26:16
Right? Absolutely. As with anything else in life, if you have the time and inclination, do it yourself, if not, because you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. And certainly I’ve done that in my business as well in terms of SEO, and giving that to someone like you or any other agency, for that matter. Take that bit off my plate or their business owners. So in this case, I’ve decided to hire an agency, and there are so many agencies, how does one choose, you know, because he gets told so many stories,

Mazen 26:43
I’d say, how about conversation first, right, like, see how that goes because different people mesh differently with each other. So I think that initial conversation at first is important. Look and see what they’re offering you or what they’re telling you about your website. It’s very easy to take away the website throwing an SEO tool and then come back and say, Oh, we found these problems. But that really doesn’t help you as a business owner. Right? So are they providing value? Is there logic and what they’re saying? Is their approach to doing this also mesh well with your approach. And I think that’s having a good conversation. You can easily tell where they stand on that spectrum. Are they just purely sell, sell, sell? Or are they taking a deeper interest in your business and how you do things? And what’s important for you to measure and improve or not? I think that’s probably the most important thing. And as you can see that they are touching on these aspects and they do understand what they’re doing. And that’s the question becomes, how are you structuring that relationship? What are the deliverables on a monthly basis? Are you having a meeting once a month or every two months to go over these results? Can they show you sample reports of their work? Right? What is it that they’re Measuring a month to month basis to achieve your goal as a business owner, I think these are all important questions to bring in, in the evaluation process.

Dhiren 28:08
And what about KPIs? Are there any KPIs that you can offer to a business owner to say these are three or four top KPIs that they should ask for every time?

Mazen 28:18
Yeah, widescale, there are generic KPIs, but also, you can cater it down to the business level, it depends on what each business wants to measure. So for example, on a high level, you can say, okay, the basic KPIs is alright, here are the keywords that we want to show up for, you know, we have this benchmark, when we start, this is where we are in terms of ranking. We’re on the second third fourth page of Google or we’re not showing up at all, and with time, how is that progressing? So that’s the most basic first step. The second question is, are you getting enough traffic, organic traffic from your website? So you WhatsApp can have many sources of traffic, your traffic can come in from email, it can come in from social media activity, it can come in from organic or paid advertising and then SEO. So with an SEO campaign, you want to see that number of visitors to your website from these search engines grow over time. And naturally, if you’re showing up for the right keywords, and you have more and more traffic to your site, that also then translates into sales. So are you selling more than when you were when you started at the end, that’s what really matters to an e commerce website is the number of transactions that are happening. So on the high level, that’s how you can approach this and of course, you can break this down as you go into more details on the business by business based on what they would like to see beyond this point.

Dhiren 29:54
So I got number of searches organic traffic, increase sales. Know that there’s something called black hat and white hat SEO? Is it worth for a business owner? A lot of agency says, oh, we’ll get you this this this done very quickly. Is that a possibility? Is that even real? Or is this as you keep saying, this is a more long term thing?

Mazen 30:14
Definitely. So when I start hearing, I guarantee you number one on Google, that’s an immediate red flag. How can you guarantee that, you know, you don’t own the engine? You’re not running it. So how come as an agency you come and say, I guarantee you spot number one, like how are you even guaranteeing that the word guarantee to me when it comes to SEO, is an indication that there’s something fishy happening? So yeah, that’s on the one side. On the other, I think it’s important that you’re clear on the approach. So when we say blackhat, that’s usually spam. So they’re doing spam tactics one way or the other. I won’t say it doesn’t work, it will work. In most cases, it works in the short term, but they’ll come back and hurt you on the long term. And Google is getting better and better at weeding out those spam tactics, and pretty much punishing the websites that benefit them. So when you hear about a Google update and a lot of cases, you see certain websites suddenly drop in their organic rankings. And some of that is due to spam tactics. Sometimes there are other technical issues involved. So when you’re looking at blackhat, that’s usually spam. And if it works on the short term, it will come and hurt you on the long term.

Dhiren 31:30
As I say, in business, there’s no such thing as easy to learn, right? This is all things that take time that take effort. Now, you talked about long term and you talked about content and attributes, I want to come back that I think content is really part of that long term strategy. So if I’m just starting out an e commerce business, I’ve just started something a few months ago, how important is content and what is content for my audience.

Mazen 31:52
So from an SEO perspective, it’s content on your website. It doesn’t matter much what you do on your social media channel. So then the That day, your social media presence is important. But that’s a channel on its own. Most of the times Google doesn’t see what’s happening on these channels, it’s important to have a presence. Yes. But when we talk about content from an SEO perspective, we mean, what are you doing in terms of publishing content on your website? Now, what can this content be? It can be written text. So for example, it can be a case study, it can be what questions people are asking. If you’re, for example, selling flowers online, it can be different ideas about arrangements or different ideas for wedding bouquets are different ideas for flowers for Valentine’s, etc. Because this is information that people are interested in knowing or looking at. So one point or one type of content can be that text content and others can be image-heavy. If your products are very visual, again, like flowers, for example, you could just publish a blog post about different kinds of arrangements or events. teach people how to do their own arrangements. Or for example, for restaurants, it could be publishing a recipe, for example. So it can be a combination of images and text, it can also be a video. When it comes to video, I always advise that you Okay, you have your Vimeo or YouTube or whatever platform where you create publish that video content. But it’s also important to take that and put it as opposed on your own website and transcribe the text. Because at the end of the day, search engines don’t understand videos that well, they’re getting better at it, but they’re still not at a point at the understanding of video, the way we understand the video, what they do understand and I’m very good at understanding and analyzing his text. So what you could do is take that video, transcribe the text, and put it as a post on your website. And you don’t have to do this manually. There are a few tools out there that allow you to do it automatically. Or you throw in a video and it gives you out the text with pretty good accuracy. So that’s also possible.

Dhiren 33:57
Give a couple of names Have those tools, I will make sure to link them in the show notes.

Mazen 34:03
Yeah, the one I use a lot is called So I use that for even voice notes. But it’s also good at taking YouTube video and spitting out all the text, and with pretty good accuracy rates as well. So you can take that and publish it on your website as content.

Dhiren 34:22
Right? So going back to the conversation of content, there is so many different types of content that someone can produce. But a simple thing would be like you said, if I’m a flower shop, what kind of arrangement works for a wedding? Or if I’m a restaurant, what kind of recipe I tried and what really went well, and how I made that dish. And then you bring in video, is we do something that we should do from day one, or is this more a progression thing?

Mazen 34:46
I think it’s up to you. What business type you have. What are your audiences interested in our customers, what are they interested in? So definitely video content is growing in terms of ease of use. Accessibility preference on social media channels. But I’d say it depends on, you know, I’ve worked with websites that are yet to produce a video and are ranking pretty well. So at the end, I’d say, focus primarily on what’s useful for your audience for your clients. If it’s video content that they expect, and that’s where you go, if it’s not something that important to them, it could be down the line and look at what works for them. I think that’s the best starting point that you can have.

Dhiren 35:30
I think you just underline this whole conversation by saying, know your audience, you need to know who you’re selling to who is at one core persona or ideal customer, and what would they like to see from you? If you know that, and content becomes so easy? Absolutely. Yeah.

Mazen 35:45
It’s understanding who they are, what kind of questions they’re asking what they’re interested in. Definitely.

Dhiren 35:51
So in that sense, when I’m a business and I’m selling food, for example, I need to know everybody buys food, but food products as such, but there must be a story Certain slice of the market there is an ideal customer that loves buying from me. And that’s what I’m after? And is that fair to say, then I should really drive my SEO strategy around that ideal customer.

Mazen 36:13
I would take it from a perspective of how does that ideal customer search? What kind of searches are they doing? What kind of questions are they asking? And can I show up for these searches? and specific, that would be a very good starting point. I guess the next question becomes, how do I know? Right? So there are quite a number of tools out there that you can use to do this. So this falls under what we call keyword research. But you can use for example, so Google has its own Keyword Planner. It’s part of the Google Ads campaign, but you just throw in a term and it will give you out what other related terms people are putting into Google when they do that search. It’s free to use all you need is a Gmail account. You just go to slash AdWords and you can use it. Another very good tool is called answer the public Comm. So same concept, you just type in a search or a topic, and it gives you all the different questions. People are asking around that topic. That could be a very good base for a video to create or a blog post put out. I think another one is called Uber suggest. So there are a number of tools out there, the the objective at the end of the day is to see what kind of questions people are asking. And can you provide the answers to these questions in a useful manner on your website?

Dhiren 37:40
Yeah, I’ve actually used on to the public and my first reaction that answer the public was Mind blown. If I could put that image in here and it’s so powerful, and literally tell you all sorts of questions people are asking based on a little term that you put in. So it’s a really, really good to make sure that we link all of them in the show notes. I want to start to wrap up and I have a few more questions for you in terms of COVID and Coronavirus. First of all has COVID affected your business and how has it changed your business?

Mazen 38:11
Yeah, it definitely has, in many ways. So on the one part, the benefit for our businesses that we work across many sectors, we’re not tied to a specific sector. Our clients are pretty much all industries from local businesses to e commerce to publishing platforms. Now, yeah, some sectors were harder hit than others, especially travel in Dubai travel, hospitality, f&b events, and naturally that trickled down to their suppliers as well. So people around that have had tough times they’re still having tough times. For us, our clients in that either had to scale down their campaigns or temporarily stop them etc. So on that aspect, that was one element. But on the other hand, we saw a massive increase in interest in e commerce, typically, because shops were not able to sell in the traditional way where people walk in. So the alternative is to buy online. So with the e commerce websites that we work with different ways people got affected with that, for the benefit of our businesses, we work with people across the region or anywhere in the world. So we got inquiries coming in from other countries in the GCC in Europe, South Korea, so that helped balance out the effect on a business level. On a more interesting scale. What we noticed with most of the websites that we work with is a shift in user behavior. So people started using or visiting websites at later times during the day than normal, or pre coded times, and much more on weekends. Makes sense? Since people are locked up consuming content or website navigation, much more on weekends than we did before this and much more towards late night hours than we did before, we were also seeing a shift, or resurgence and traffic coming in from laptops and desktops and a drop in mobile usage. Again, makes sense. People are home, they’re not mobile, they’re not traveling or going around using their mobile device less than often.

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