Mawdoo3: The Largest Online Arabic Content Platform is One Click Away
CAFRAJ team spoke to the Founders of Mawdoo3.com Mohammed Jaber and Rami Al-Qawasmi to walk us through the story of the largest online Arabic content platform.
Mawdoo3 provides a large number of high-quality Arabic articles, with more than 130,000 articles available for free to all Arabic readers around the globe. Mawdoo3, also, produces visual content with plenty of monthly videos covering different topics for Arabic users.
When and how did you come up with Mawdoo3?
It goes back to 2010, when Mohammad Jaber, at the time finishing his medical studies, met up with the entrepreneur Rami Qawasmi at a volunteering work experience with Jordan Volunteer. The two Jordanians, now both 28, shared a birthday and a vision for changing the World Wide Web. They only knew each other for 2 days when, one day in a cafe, Jaber told Al-Qawasmi about the idea of enriching the Arabic content; Al Qawasmi surprisingly accepted the deal of being a part of it and Mawdoo3.com just came to life.
In 2012, Mawdoo3.com was officially launched and it hit one million unique visitors in 2013. From this point forward, a huge increase in our traffic and readers occurred till we became number one website in the region in 2016.
Why did you start Mawdoo3?
There is a huge gap between the Arabic content available on the digital world and the huge number of Arabic readers online.
The content available online is limited; moreover, it is very weak, lacks trusted sources and is mostly generated from forums. This got us to take the lead and create Mawdoo3.com to fill the web with unique content with high quality
How many page views do you have per month?
We received 186 million page views, with 42 million unique visitors in January 2018. Our most visited topics are health, cooking, nutrition and religious topics.
How do you see the Arabic content progressing in the coming years?
Very promising! Especially with the initiatives that have been taken by a lot of Arab thought leaders, individuals and organizations. All of them are trying to fulfill the need of having credible Arabic content online covering different topics. We believe we need more of this especially that the opportunity is available and a lot of people can succeed in this field.
What are the challenges you are still facing at Mawdoo3?
The environment at mawdoo3 is very progressive and rapidly growing, especially that mawdoo3 is providing very professional quality of work with limited time and resources.
Regardless of how challenging this is, we see it as an opportunity to create more space for content creation. We built our own social interactive application and we are taking more steps in investing in Artificial Intelligence field. We adopted this technology to develop the use of Arabic language in different aspects of life.
Is there any aggregated content or is it all originally created?
All our content is fully originated by our writers and all edited by our editorials and specialist team. We have around 350 freelancer part-time writers and 30 full-time editors. They all work together 24/7.
Are you considering other languages?
For now, no.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
We are still going to produce more content; we have a huge target each year for the written and visual content production. There are tons of topics that need to be covered.
Launching our own interactive, social app to the users are available right now to our readers. We await the outcome from our hard work and investment in the AI field.
Why did you decide to scale into video production?
In addition to diversifying our content, the future of advertising lies in videos, and so we are trying to make use of this trend to add a new revenue channel, especially that the cost of a video add is almost ten times more than the cost of a web ad.
We started off by outsourcing the production, but that costed a lot and so we decided to establish our own studio which now hosts 12 employees out of the total 40.
What are your future plans?
We are currently working on producing the Arabic version of Amazon Alexa which uses voice recognition to converse with the user. We decided to tap into this market because we firmly believe that the online search culture will shift from writing/reading to speaking/listening since the latter is the easier and faster method. We are also releasing a Q&A application with a voice recognition feature, very soon.
In addition to our AI interests, we are working on producing Mawdoo3 Premium Insights, which is a service that provides big data to corporations that can make use of our company’s insights for their own marketing.
Since you solely depend on advertising for profit, how do you see the sector changing and how does that affect content producers?
The online user is fed up with traditional ads and has found ways to get rid of them through Ad Blocker and its likes. This of course creates a huge problem to the advertising sector which is aware of the severity of the situation.
Therefore, the most viable solution is to integrate the ads within the content itself in a way that does not annoy the reader or affect the website’s brand. This is what we call Native Ads, and it comprises 40 percent of our profit, and it mostly comes from the Gulf.
The ads are integrated by producing indirect content that is related to the product, for example we write about the importance of milk as part of our collaboration with Al Marai, but we also produce content that directly features the product itself (sponsored content).
To make sure the reader is not misled, we add the company’s name next to the article.
Although social media is often used to target a larger audience, you only use it to attract 1 percent of your users, while 70 percent comes through organic search. How do you explain this?
Since we are considered an encyclopedia, the content we offer is not social, it does not offer the short and quick content consumed on those sites. Therefore we heavily depend on search engines, especially that they are still unsaturated. We specified a team that keeps testing our SEO and developing new tools exclusive to Mawdoo3.
I would personally advise content producers to dedicate 50-70 percent of their marketing budget towards improving SEO; organic search is much more sustainable than social media.
How do you choose your topics?
We rely on an automated system that keeps record of all the keywords that the users enter into our search engine but fail to find content on. The system sends a list of those words to the 350 freelance writers who work for us, and they in turn choose the topics from that list.
What are factors that affect readership?
The content itself is the most important component of our work; coherent articles written in a simple and structured language do very well on Mawdoo3. Aside from the content, other technical features including the interface, and speed are important as well.
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