Four Keyword Research Tips For UAE-Based Small Businesses Small businesses can make the most out of their digital marketing efforts by investing time upfront in keyword research.

By Hafiz Muhammad Ali

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Keyword research is one of those topics that can often get a second thought in SEO campaigns. With all the talk in the SEO world being about PR, content and link building, it is easy to forget the foundation of SEO: keyword research. Think of keywords like a compass for SEO campaigns, it guides the campaign in the right direction and shows whether the progress is being made. However, often businesses end up going for the glory and pick the keywords which they simply cannot rank for using their existing resources.

The good news is that there are more resources than ever before to help novices learn about digital marketing. Industry leaders from Moz to SEMRush to Hubspot all offer a variety of guides and informative articles which can be used to expand your knowledge and help you make smarter digital marketing decisions.

The following are a few keyword research tips you can use right away to start your digital marketing campaign on the right foot.

Look at what your competitors are doing
Unless you're forging forward in a completely new industry, chances are you already have competitors that are ranking for keywords. If they did their homework, they have probably already spent time testing which organic and paid keywords are most effective, and which title tags and advertising headlines generated conversions best. While you shouldn't copy them word for word, it would be foolish to ignore the results that competitors have already found. By using this information, you can tailor your own keyword research, as well as your digital marketing campaign's focus, on the areas that have already proven to show the most promise. This makes an excellent case for companies in UAE, where the number of businesses that have an online presence is quite few when compared to the US, to pick the keywords that can bring most value to their business. Businesses can also look for companies offering the same services in more established markets, such as the US or the UK, and identify their target keywords by using tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.

One final note on this: If you're fortunate enough to be in an industry where most or all competitors haven't started aggressively working to rank for relevant keywords, you have a major opportunity to seize. In situations like this, you can be the first to rank for a wide range of keywords that would otherwise be competitive, using far fewer resources than you otherwise would have needed.

Look for long tail keyword opportunities
While everyone wants to be the go-to website at the top of Google searches for their industry, the reality is that this is typically an expensive and time-consuming task. Depending on the size and authority of your competitors, it could be nearly impossible. Fortunately, you don't need to rank #1 for the one or two-word keywords that define your industry, although you should always have that as a stretch goal if possible. Instead, look for long tail keyword opportunities that are less competitive than the one or two-word variants. One example of this would be targeting " best orthodontist in JLT Dubai" instead of "orthodontist". In addition to being less competitive, someone searching the long tail keyword is more likely to be serious about the specific topic, and in many cases, they are more likely to convert to a sale or be interested in learning more about your business. In addition, long tail keywords allow you to tailor content that is more specific, and will therefore be more relevant to the audience searching that particular keyword.

Related: UAE's Small Business Market Should Study Customer Lifecycles

Have a specific buyer, or audience, in mind
When choosing keywords to target, it is very useful to have a specific type of buyer, or at least a specific demographic audience, in mind beforehand. The fact of the matter is that there is no piece of content, no sales pitch, no product that appeals to everyone. By focusing on one specific type of individuals to start with, you can get into their mind and determine what types of searches they might use, and what type of content they want to find when they do.

As a business, the focus should be on targeting keywords with commercial intent. Some of these keywords, such as coupon, discount, deal, and so on, are the most effective. A real-life example might be "Dentist Deal Dubai". In addition, searchers in Google also look for the following keywords "Indian Dentist Dubai" or "Filipino Dentist Dubai", showing that people from respective countries often look for dentists from their own countries. It is also useful to have a specific objective in mind when conducting keyword research. In other words, what do you want people to do when they search and click on your web page? Having an ultimate goal in mind -- whether it is sales, an email list, or simply brand recognition and authority -- will narrow the list of keywords you choose to target during the research phase.

Focus on a few keywords and expand gradually
While it can be tempting to try and rank for lots of keywords at once, it makes much more sense to focus your efforts on a few keywords, at least to start with. By focusing on a few specific keywords, you stand a much better chance of actually being able to rank for those keywords. In addition, by limiting the scope of how wide a net you cast, you will force yourself to dig further, leading to more depth in your keyword research. In other words, you'll be able to find long tail keywords that are very specific to the niche you have limited yourself to. By working within these limited parameters and expanding later on, you will get much more value out of each set of keywords.

Keyword research doesn't need to be overwhelming, all you need to do is to have a specific set of goals and a clear plan of how you will get there. Make sure to leverage the tools at your disposal -- many of which are free online -- in order to maximize your digital marketing efforts.

Related: Infographic: Marketers Are Investing In Customer Loyalty And You Should Too!

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Hafiz Muhammad Ali

Entrepreneur, Author, PhD in Entrepreneurship

Hafiz Muhammad Ali is an entrepreneur, founder of Omnicore, author of Digital Passport. With a PhD in entrepreneurship, his is a firm believer in lifelong learning. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge, experience and opinion on digital marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Ali invests in books and people.

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