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Though it is home to over thirteen percent of the world's population, Africa (and namely, Sub Saharan Africa) continues to account for only around three percent of internet usage, globally. In fact, the internet saturation rate in the former colonies of France, Belgium, and Portugal is currently at less than two percent. Though these numbers are extremely low, it is not predicted that they will remain this way for long. Thanks to business development in Africa the growing popularity of internet services provided via mobile devices, internet service providers should expect to enjoy excellent business opportunities in the Sub Saharan regions.
Why are internet saturation rates so low in Sub Saharan Africa?
At present, the cost of the internet in the Sub Saharan regions of Africa are truly astronomical. In most areas the price for online access can be as high as $350 per month! This is higher than the per capita annual GDP in some places. This is largely due to the fact that in many Sub Saharan areas, ISPs are still required to rely on foreign internet providers for bandwidth via satellite.This process is far more expensive than obtaining bandwidth through undersea cable.
The old style copper based telephone systems which allowed dialup access to the internet are very poor and sparsely distributed. In some countries, three digits was sufficient to cover the entire country's telephone number system (not counting country code) before mobile coverage became available. In addition to the high cost of internet access, there are still a great deal of African people who lack education and training on how to use the world wide web. This is a trend that is rapidly changing, however, as more and more Africans are making use of mobile devices which offer internet access.
Lastly, the number of internet service providers in Sub Saharan Africa are few. As business development in Africa continues to increase, however, it is believed that Africa will make greater strides in providing a submarine cable system for internet access and more providers will be required.
What business opportunities are available to internet service providers in Sub Saharan Africa?
With business development in Africa on the rise, more and more companies and merchants are beginning to realize the importance of internet access to their success. The usage of online services are critical in the sales products, regardless of whether or not products being sold are hand made. Because of this, businesses in Sub Saharan Africa are turning their attention to finding affordable and reliable internet service providers in order to boost both marketing and sales.
Due to the fact that many African people are not up to speed with much of the world with regards to their understanding of how to best use the internet, internet service providers in Sub Saharan Africa would benefit from expanding their services. Instead of simply providing internet access, internet service providers could benefit greatly from offering training intended to help with business development in Africa. These training sessions could show African business people how to create and manage their web sites, how to use the internet to properly market their products (via social media, blogs, etc.), and how to allow for sales transactions online.
The mobile market is obviously critical to internet service providers in Sub Saharan Africa. With more and more peoples joining the ranks of the rest of the world as they access the internet through their mobile devices, it is certain that more internet service providers will be required in these regions to keep up with the demand. Mobile internet access will assuredly play an important role increasing the internet saturation levels throughout Africa and in boosting business development in Africa.
Many African people have turned to cyber cafes to go online. In fact, the country of Zimbabwe has made a concerted effort to provide at least one internet cafe in each major city. This is yet another great strategy for business development in Africa. Internet Service providers and business owners alike will profit greatly as more Africans are learning the importance of being online.
Much of what our lessons have been geared toward focus on getting your website found by the search engines so that your potential audience can find you. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has been addressed before, but I wanted to make sure that regardless of how well your website shows up in search engine results pages (SERP), you may still want to keep some basic PPC in place.
PPC Advertising vs. Organic Positioning - SEO SOS #17
I recently did a search on a company product that was very specific. So specific that the company showed up three times in the sponsored links - positions one, two and three - and was in the first two positions on the left side of the SERP, known as organic positioning. Since my search was a product specific search, I think that paying for PPC advertising on the specific product is probably not money well-spent. My suggestion is that the company should remove their PPC ads for the specific product name and only advertise for the product purpose or industry keywords related to their product.
So how does this advice translate to your website? If you are running PPC campaigns, create ads that touch on the need for your product or for the problem that your product solves. If you run an ad with your specific product name or your company name as the keyword for the ad, watch carefully when you do a search on your product or company name where you come up organically. Initially, you may not show up at all, so these ads are very ppropriate.
However, you should be testing frequently for results on your ad campaigns to see where you show up on a keyword search both for sponsored and for organic results. Once your product name and company name begin to enjoy some basic branding, you will want to move your PPC ads into product type ads instead of product name ads so you are not spending money on click-throughs that you can get for free.
Does this mean that you will never do PPC campaigns once you are positioning well organically? If we could trust that what Google does on its three or four major algorithm updates each year to be logical and predictable, then this would be the case. However, for reasons sometimes unfathomable by mankind, the Google updates often drop your website from good positioning to obscure at the most inopportune time. It is important for you to keep a close watch on your PPC campaigns and the SERP for your targeted keywords. Be ready to shift in and out of PPC campaigns at a moment's notice. It is quite easy to organize your campaigns in such a way that you can simply pause a campaign when it isn't working and then resume it when you need to be back in the sponsored links because your organic positioning has changed.
So the moral of the story is to pay attention to your positioning at all times. At the very least, a couple of times a week you need to run a Google search on your main keywords to be sure that you are showing up where you expect you should. If you find yourself in the enviable position of having top ranking on both sponsored links and organically, then pause your PPC campaign until it is needed again. But if you drop from these top positions, then
simply resume your PPC ads to fill in the gap until you are organically dominating your keywords again.
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Chesa Keane has been designing and developing web sites with an eye toward search engine optimization and traffic generation since 1995. TAO Consultants offers online web and SEO courses to help you make the most of your web business and investment at the www.computergoddess.com website.
Your homework this week is to check your website for positioning. If it still doesn't come up organically posistioned well, then keep your PPC advertising in place; in fact, review it to make sure that it is being posted under sponsored links in a favorable position. If your site does come up well organically, consider revising your PPC campaigns so you aren't spending money for something you can get for free with your good organic results.
There are several directories that you can also add your links to which will give you a certain amount of exposure. One of the easiest and most reasonably priced linking websites is Strongest Links (http://www.strongestlinks.com ) and offers a free 30-day trial period with full functionality. This website will give you an updated list of directories, the price they charge (if any) and how valuable the directory is as shown by various statistics.