We’ve got an SEO problem in the UAE.
And if we’ve got a problem here, we’ve got a problem in the GCC and wider region.
Let me explain what this problem is.
We’ve got a lack of SEO jobs in UAE.
This is from LinkedIn today:
481 results. And most are somewhat ‘related’ to SEO and not actual dedicated SEO jobs.
And here’s more woeful numbers for the rest of the GCC:
228 SEO jobs in the GCC, excluding UAE. If you add the UAE, that number jumps to 709.
Now here are some numbers from other countries with similar populations and equally aspirational economic growth targets:
What gets me is that even cumulatively, the GCC is lagging behind so many other countries, AS A WHOLE.
781 SEO jobs in the entire GCC vs 583 in Portugal, 1038 in Hong Kong, 1621 in Sweden, 710 in Israel and 3728 in Singapore.
Singapore is TINY but punches well above its weight. Almost 4k related SEO jobs! Phenomenal.
There’s a reason why so many people flock to the island nation to setup their startup.
And there’s also good reason why there’s a lot more SEO jobs going around.
To me, the abundance of jobs in a particular niche is an indication of demand which means there’s wider awareness. And a wider awareness is a wider appreciation for the impact this has on a business.
I’ve been in Dubai for 9 years. I’ve seen little growth in SEO awareness but it still pales in comparison to other parts of the world.
For context, the ‘stuff’ that gets the lion’s share of the budget in the UAE are things like billboards (we have HUGE ones on Sheikh Zayed Road, our main highway).
Also, this place is swimming with ‘influencers’ so a lot of money gets spent on that.
And of course, like most parts of the world, Instagram is YUGE so that’s another money sinkhole.
SEO? it barely even gets a mention. And forget about Arabic SEO or even multilingual, international SEO – this is often poorly implemented, if at all.
So why do I worry?
I worry because we’re not giving the right amount of attention to the one channel that is affordable and sustainable for the long term. It’s also arguably one of the best performing channels, especially given the nominal investment required to get going and keep going.
When I see SEO jobs on LinkedIn in UAE, they almost always focus on juniors with even more junior pay.
I even saw a prominent dental clinic advertising for an “SEO Analyst” role that required experience in SEO, PPC, Social Media, Social Ads, Video, Newsletters and the list went on.
There’s job ads for ‘digital marketing managers’ or ‘digital marketing directors’ and it’s almost always a PPC job with a bit of SEO and other things thrown in for good measure.
Even when there’s an actual job with “SEO” in the title, it often requires work and experience in other areas.
This just reeks of ignorance because people have a warped view of SEO.
SEO to most people is one of the following:
- some mystical dark art that only ‘geeks’ understand
- something you set and forget
- all of the above
I believe everyone should have an understanding of basic HTML and CSS – yes, even in the age of no-code.
I also believe everyone should have a basic understanding of analytics because we all need to make smarter, better business decisions based on data, not a whim.
And I also believe that everyone should at least be kept abreast of developments across all digital channels, not just the ones they specialise in.
For example, I know about the cookie-less revolution even if it doesn’t have the biggest impact on my work in SEO (as compared to people working in paid media). But do I care about diving into it headfirst? No. I just need to know enough so I’m no longer ignorant.
In all of my roles in Dubai, I’ve worked hard to educate and inform the people I worked with on the benefits of SEO.
When I worked at Property Finder, I educated the developers on how to integrate SEO into their work so that it is proactive, instead of reactive (ie. me barging through the doors banging on about canonical tags and what not).
When I worked at Gulf News, I educated the journalists on how to integrate SEO concepts into their writing (internal linking, extending content further, catchy headlines with more SEO-friendly page titles).
It’s all in educating people so that they’re no longer ignorant and it also adds value to their work and the company as a whole.
Education is empowerment. And people don’t need to actually do the SEO, they just need to appreciate it for what it is: a fantastic channel that can help any and every organisation achieve its goals.
My goal in 2022 is to continue to raise the bar and improve awareness of SEO so that we see more businesses investing in SEO and as a result, more SEO jobs in Dubai, the UAE and the GCC.
SEO loves your site more than anything else. And I want more people to know this!
Maybe I think too highly of the work that I do for a living and have done for 15 years.
But SEO can and will save the world.
I just wish we had a lot more SEO in the UAE.
» I wrote a post about how to get an SEO job in Dubai.