The practice of search engine optimisation is relatively well established. And while trying to achieve an international rankings boost can be difficult and frustrating, at least we have some idea on what needs to be done.
SEO South Africa has been a growing industry but with the new default Google Localised Search feature- that returns a certain percentage of local results with any search query- local expertise is needed more than ever.
The volume of results have been reduced but SEO standards remain as high as ever. Now SEO efforts must be focused on regional trends and behaviour rather than generic international behaviour.
Some factors to consider for those practising SEO in South Africa.
South Africa is an Emerging Internet Market
The internet penetration in SA is around 17% (Around 8.5 million), according to 2011 statistics. It’s not a massive market but seeing as it was 13.9% the year before and that the internet accounts for 2% of the economy, the potential for growth is undeniable.
This means that this market is not only always growing but always changing. SEO methods that aren’t effective this year may grow in prominence as the market develops. Popular keywords and their variations will begin to take on regional nuances.
Mobility is Growing
Mobile internet on smartphones is almost completely responsible for the recent growth in internet penetration. This affects South African SEO quite adversely, when you consider search habits on mobile phones.
Typically it’s used for getting directions, banking, finding shopping locations for a product category they’re interested in, social networking and quick fact finding. Generic keywords and a Google Places entry are key here.
The Market is Young
Not just market itself, but rather the demographic. Technology aversion increases with age, this everyone knows. It’s particularly bad in SA though, given that the division of wealth only gives a modest segment of the population access to this type of technology.
This will improve with time, as the economy develops further.
Social Networking Use Beats Search Engine Use
This is one of the biggest hindrances to the development of e-commerce in SA. Whereas many internet markets were quite developed by the time they were introduced to social media, the South African market grew as a result of it.
Essentially, its a completely different market dynamic that have little experience with online commercial efforts. Whether this is a opportunity or a threat, is a matter of perspective.
Branding Is Not as Developed as In International Markets
This affects the value of branded keywords quite heavily. Normally branded keywords would be the prime long-tail keyword strategy and websites would be able to rely on a lot more traffic from these terms.
South Africa Has 11 Official Languages
How many of these language groups you would want to optimise for depends on your target market. Websites practising SEO in Cape Town markets would focus primarily on English and Afrikaans, for instance.
You can’t just add content in multiple languages or stuff them into the meta information. That will seem sloppy and Google will penalise it. Rather, you will need to offer your website in these separate languages. It can be time consuming and might require content writers for that language, rather than just directly translating.