As a consumer, how often do you use search engines for finding the right product?

Imagine you are looking to buy a new smartphone. You enter “smartphone” in the search box. Next, you see all the latest smartphone ads on top mobile websites and you start to compare and perhaps end up making your decision in just a few clicks.
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Image by pichado photography, Flickr CC
If nothing else, your purchasing decision is mainly governed by what you click and what you read on search results and that’s basically how search engine marketing dominates a consumer’s decision making.
Worst still, search engine marketing and online advertising are so closely connected and what you see on your search is exactly what the seller/advertiser is paying for “to rank high on search results.” I don’t want to get into a messy discussion on what all the online marketers do to rank high on search engines (say, Google). But the fact is in this digital age, “search” gets too much credit, and “displayed results” on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) plays an important role in brand recognition and sales.
In a recent research published by GroupM Search, titled “The Virtuous Circle – The Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway,” more than 86% of consumers agreed that “search” was an integral part of their purchase pathway. In another research study, it was found that online reviews – user reviews and product reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of purchase decisions of most consumers today.
While I wonder how fair it is to follow social media and read search engine results to make up my mind on a particular product, I somehow feel my purchasing decision is largely standing on the shoulders of search engine giants who are playing with the popular mentality of consumers and striving to appear in front of our faces!
We all know the drill – put the right ad in front of the right user at the right time but the question is – is it really the right way?
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In today’s interconnected world, the competitive advantage of any business is largely determined by the degree of technology adoption, utilization and connection with the target audience. Researchers often argue that without a critical mass of local content, Arab countries cannot reap the benefits of the global information revolution.

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Rising need of Arabic content online

The size of local markets is always critical to measuring the benefits of using localized content for online communication. According to, Arabs make up about 3.1% of the world’s population and 3.3% of Internet users around the world understand and speak Arabic.
With 230 million people speaking Arabic in the Arab World, of which over 60% are under the age of 25, Internet usage in the Middle East is rapidly increasing. In fact, Internet penetration in the Middle East is increasing at the rate of 28.3%, about 3% more than the global average. We can say with certainty that there exists a large pool of local Internet users who are looking to read Arabic content online and the need of creating good quality Arabic content is increasing.
However, many of these Arabic users either do not find any good Arabic content or face a rather disconnected online experience when they are sent to an English web page through an Arabic ad or link. In turn, the local audience loses interest and gets carried away by the global competition, which is exactly why a lack of online Arabic content has led local businesses down a bottleneck.
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