Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Hummus topped with whole chickpeas and olive oil.
Image via Wikipedia
I flew to Jordan this week to speak and also gave a workshop on digital communications at the MediaME Digital Summit. In my humble opinion, MediaME - together with ArabNet and Click - is one of the region's critical digital events and this year's conference featured some great speakers (present company etc etc) and much thought-provoking opinion and debate.

It was slightly odd to be back in Jordan after having hit the 'go' button on the Middle East print edition of Olives (A Violent Romance) - somehow the book has become solid, concrete now. The King's Highway (the road from the airport to Amman, but also the Kingdom's core arterial route from Amman to Aqaba) is being rebuilt and is apparently to become a privatised toll route. The new airport will be ready by summer next year. And Amman nightclub Nai has been refurbished and rebranded. Just as well, after the incidents recounted in Olives! Did I mention you can now buy Olives as a printed book at, BTW? I did? Ah, okay then...

During the workshop at MediaME, I used this silly wee blog as an example of SEO, pointing out how mad it was that I 'owned' Amman's delightful Fakhreddine restaurant on Google. If you Google 'Fakhreddine Amman' you don't get the restaurant itself (as you rightly should - it's a must visit if you're staying in Amman and want to eat some of the best Arab food the Levant can dish up), but you do get me.

This is not a good thing. It's a compelling reason for the restaurant to invest some money in SEO and grabbing back its ownership of its brand.

I got a comment from the audience - "Actually, we're their agency and if you Google just 'Fakhreddine' you get our client!

No you don't. You get Fakhr Al Din, various Fakhreddines, the restaurant in Broumana (Lebanon) and me. You don't get Amman's famous Lebanese/Arabic/Levantine (delete as your preference dictates) restaurant Fakhreddine. If you Google 'Fakhreddine restaurant' you get Fakhreddine Broumana, London and me in that order. You don't get Fakhreddine Amman. And that's mad, because the place is famous and generally celebrated for its excellence.

I wish I'd stopped the workshop to look it up then and there. If Amman's Fakhreddine had a website (if it does, I can't find it), I'd do a post specifically to right the wrong and redirect hungry Googlers to the right place, because I really do appreciate and support this most excellent of restaurants and wish it nothing but the very best.

But it does, like so many Middle Eastern businesses, need to get smarter about its online presence and search parameters.

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