I’ve been working in the UAE for over 6 years and in my time have seen the SEO industry grow significantly.
I joined Sekari when I first came here in 2013 and it was one of a literal handful of dedicated search marketing agencies, focusing mostly on SEO with a little bit of PPC for good measure.
There were a bunch of the usual mega agencies who did everything and merely shoe-horned SEO into the mix (badly too).
There weren’t nearly as many solo operators. And there were plenty of small to medium size web design agencies who also tried to shoe-horn SEO into their offerings.
The theme here is that no one was doing SEO well because no one gave it the right amount of priority.
Not that I’m biased but Sekari was all about SEO. Our clients were Atlantis, OSN, flynas, Gulf News, Regus, Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi and DAFZA.
SEO is all we did.
SEO is all I did.
But fast forward just 6 years and you will find things haven’t changed that much.
The same mega agencies are still offering SEO as an afterthought.
There’s even more digital/web agencies, also, offering SEO just because everyone else is.
And the number of solo operators has increased tenfold.
But my issue is with these freelancers or single person operations.
I did some research and many are simply a front for bigger agencies (though not much bigger than a handful or less than 10 people).
Most suffer from the usual tacky designs, poor attention to detail and a service offering that’s short sighted and differs only on price.
This isn’t exclusive to the region though. It’s a global issue.
When you start competing on price for a service you don’t really care enough about, then you’re just doing a disservice to humanity.
I’ve seen ridiculous contracts where clients only pay once they get certain results (there’s always a catch) and even when they do start to pay, the amount is criminal – either end of the spectrum.
The industry hasn’t really matured. It’s just physically grown, but not much else.
The value perception of SEO hasn’t changed either.
In fact, I don’t think as a local industry, we’ve done much to really advance ourselves in our region.
I could definitely do more and I have some ideas.
But for all that’s good and great, we need to stop competing on price, focusing on ‘backlinks’ and acting so desperate.
It makes the entire industry look bad and we’ve had enough bad press for too long.