As a business and finance researcher and writer, some things bother me. Information should be readily available on literally any subject, right? You would especially want that to be so regarding your own country, right? Well, it is a sore experience when you can barely find specific information regarding your own country. I have, on several occasions, been so annoyed when you look up certain information and you find literally none that is specific to Zimbabwe. This is so across the board and even worse when it comes to business literature specific to Zimbabwe. I want to discuss that in this article.
If you have ever done Google searches then you are familiar with what I am talking about here. Finding content specific to Zimbabwe is a tall order – academic searches can be torrid because of this. Particularly for business content, it is even worse. Being a business and finance researcher I get to notice this on virtually a daily basis. Basic things like population metrics, basic salary averages, consumer information, average prices, and the like are hard to find online. Often one ends up having to conclude from global information that most will not be detailing the Zimbabwean context in particular.
Unavailability of business literature is also either caused or worsened by poor search engine ranking. I will not really expand on the inner-workings of ranking because it is a lengthy subject on its own. Basically, when you search for something on Google some results appear. Those results do not just randomly appear; they are a result of a complex algorithmic criterion that Google uses. That criterion looks at many things such as the relevance of content, keyword densities, the website in question (numerous things here e.g. page loading speeds), outbound links, and headings, just to mention a few.
It is a whole subject that I find quite interesting to study – I encourage you to dig into. So those elements determine how your blog or website ranks during Google searches. Most Zimbabwean content sites tend to rank so poorly that they do not appear in the top-most search results. At the end of the day, the content is either never considered by Google or it ranks so poorly that it appears so down on the list that it is never discovered.
How Can We Fix This?
Digitization Of Content
When exploring this subject we have to look at the digitization of content. There is some good content that is available in the non-digital form e.g. physical books, publications, and so on. When searched online, content from such sources will never be found because it will not be online. Thus there will be a need for which people devote themselves to digitizing such content. In this digital age, we cannot continue to have a scenario where some vital content is only found offline.
Development Of Well Designed And Active Websites
At the very core of the solution is the issue of developing good and active websites. Any piece of content that Google considers is never independent of a website. Be it a video, a post, a photo, or anything it finds its existence on the internet through a website. This means the foundation should be properly laid from the websites themselves. I understand that nowadays anyone can develop their own website using DIY sites – many of them available these days. However, laymen are not characteristically aware of some of the things I talked about earlier. For instance, the layout and structure of a website, colour schemes, text incorporated, and so on are all considered by Google. The page loading component insinuates that the web hosting service you choose is of high importance.
These are some of the premises upon which websites should be professionally developed. If one cannot afford professional services at least seek professional advice. Having a well-developed website is not enough. The website must be active which means regular updates i.e. upload of content. Most Zimbabwean websites are not active; that even reads into the global statistics anyways. Globally there are over 2 billion websites yet only around 400 million are active. Websites must be active because this increases the chances of more content being available online. If every business would have a good and active website just imagine the wealth of business content that would become available online.
Active Social Media Accounts
Social media platforms rank high in Google searches; you will even notice this in your searches. It is strategic to leverage this so that your content ranks high. Regular posting and updating of your social media accounts should not be trivialized. Every business must prioritize this by all means. I am reminded of this funny thing I usually notice on most businesses’ social media platforms. You find someone enquiring about the price of a product on a platform. You will then see the business responding by saying they have inboxed the price.
One, the enquiry in itself shows the business is not availing enough information to its consumers online. Two, inboxing the price means the price will not be available online. All this shows us that most businesses do not realize that their brand awareness suffers by being unnecessarily secretive about their products’ prices online. A short, well-crafted post detailing a product’s description and price can easily find its way amongst the top 10 search results during a Google search. So much to talk about but I will leave it here for now.
I can never overemphasise the importance of developing high-quality content. Video content ranks high in Google searches so businesses must invest more time and effort into that. I have noticed that most videos are actually good but they are poorly captioned. This means they can be ignored by the Google algorithm. I will explore some of these things in detail in future articles. We need to make more Zimbabwean business literature available online!