Every day I spend hours on the internet, looking to make a buck from the limitless opportunities online. My life depends on this but equally, I enjoy discovering knowledge and internet treasures.
And how about you? What do you do while on the internet? Today most people are under a leash of their smartphone. It has taken over everything and seems to be wanting more.
My worry though is what people are doing on their phone especially when visiting the World Wide Web?
Kenya has the highest internet penetration rate in Africa. As a blogger, understanding what people are searching online is a very crucial part of my job description. I wouldn’t want to write about topics that people could care less of.
So my curiosity drove me to research the topics Kenyans are searching. To make this study more reliable, I used an advanced research tool: AHREFS, which by the way is the best keyword research tool in Kenya and Africa. Fellow bloggers should take note.
My mission was to discover what topics Kenyans search and dwell on most. To do this, I used the Keyword Explorer tool in finding out the most searched keywords in Kenya.
Ahrefs puked over 20 million keywords. Wow! Very interesting but I would spend decades trying to analyze this number of words. So I used the Volume feature to narrow down the keywords to only those with over 1000 searches a month. Still, they were over a million.
10,000 searches a month would work, I thought. It did and now my list was a little less than 800 words. This seemed manageable.
I exported the list as a CSV file and began my analysis on Excel. I wouldn’t want to bother you with the details but allow me to define a few terms as used in my data analysis.
Keyword: The word(s) used when searching the internet
Topic: The category in which the keyword belongs
Volume: The approximate number of searches done for the keyword in a month in Kenya.
Clicks: Approximate number of clicks resulting from the immediate keyword search.
Return Rate: How often the same person searches for the same keyword over 30 days.
World Volume: Approximate number of searches done for the keyword in a month worldwide.
Weight: The relative volume of a keyword expressed as a percentage of the total volume of all keywords with searches above 10,000 a month. It tells us how significant a keyword is among the most common searches.
Gross Weight: The weight of a keyword factored with the click per search ratio. It tells us the relative significance of a keyword search based on engagement and in comparison with other keywords.
Users: Considering most internet surfers are frequent users, this element gives the approximate number of users based on volume and return rate. This tells us how many unique people are actually engaged in the keyword throughout the month.
Net Weight: Represents the significance of a keyword in comparison to all top keywords and based on the number of unique individuals engaged with the keyword throughout the 30 days.
Dominance: Represents how significant a keyword is to Kenyans as compared to the world expressed as a percentage. A higher percentage signifies a word targeting a Kenyan based website or entity.
Challenge of Research Methodology
I understand the challenges section in thesis reports and internship reports usually come after the results and discussions.
However, for this particular project, you need to know the challenges met during the research and judge their significance in the accuracy of my findings.
One major challenge was encountered; data on the coronavirus pandemic was quite limited. Ahrefs was able to pull up data on the approximate volumes but couldn’t get the click numbers and return rates which were significant factors in this study.
This doesn’t come as a surprise since Google excluded corona related data on its Keyword Planner (an essential tool for Ahrefs data mining) and banned corona related ads to thwart attempts by brands to capitalize on the fears of consumers in need of anti-corona gear.
So, I had to exclude all keywords related to the COVID19 pandemic which luckily constituted only about 5 entries.
While this move reduces the comparison accuracy of the entire data, its impact is almost insignificant 0.91% (5/767) and since the data reflects Kenya’s search habits for the past 2 years, it might as well be negligible.
Remember my mission was to find out which topics Kenyans are most indulged in, so the second logical step was to classify each of the keywords into distinct and relatable topics.
As expected, most of the keywords (about 95.5%) could easily be categorized as they either included brand names or self-classifying terms.
For instance, the keyword “Jumia” which gets over 263,000 searches a month in Kenya and is ranked number 16, is the brand name for the African e-commerce behemoth Jumia Online Mall. This keyword would definitely fall under the online shopping category
Central in my classification criteria is what we refer to as Search Intent which is defined as the ‘why’ in any search query. Using the example above, classifying the keyword “jumia” under the online shopping category comes from the idea that searchers are most likely intending to make an online purchase or at least get product information from an e-commerce source. Thus the ‘why’ in that case is to do shopping or window shopping.
To make this even clearer, a keyword like ‘tubidy’ has a search intent of getting access to music so that one can listen. This stems from the fact that Tubidy.mobi is one of the largest databases for music and videos graded for phones.
However, I cannot rule out the bias factor. Some of the keywords under the majority percentage would easily fall under various categories which left me with the option of choosing the topic they reflect most, a process compromised by bias.
A good example was when dealing with torrents related words. Torrents sites are mostly used by Kenyans to download movies and series. This means we could classify ‘torrents’ related keywords under the Watching category because we download to watch (the why).
Yet we can’t also ignore the fact that other downloads such as software, games and music records are accessed through these torrent sites and some people especially tech-savvy Kenyans use torrent sites for purposes other than downloading watchable content.
So, ideally ‘torrents’ keywords would fall under either of these categories but as a person, I felt they resonated more with the downloading category than the watching category. This is a biased point of view whichever way you look at it.
The remaining 4.5% of the keywords, however, could not fall under any distinct category. One can’t simply put them in a distinct class and if it were possible, the resulting topic would be very insignificant in comparison with other topics. Consequently, I had to list them in the General Topic category and here are the top ten general topic keywords and their stats.
The final value used to determine the most popular topics in Kenya is the Cumulative Net Weight (CNW) of all keywords under any given category. Thus value represents how significant a topic is to most people based on the summation of all net weights of unique keywords in each category.
The Most Searched Topics in Kenya
It’s time we get to the meat of this report. What topics are Kenyans searching? What activities do most Kenyans indulge in when visiting the internet? What are the most searched topics in Kenya?
Below is a list of the most searched topics in Kenya. This does not indicate the amount of time people spend on various platforms, it only shows what most Kenyans search when accessing the internet through browsers.
1. Online Services from Government and Companies – 13.65 CNW.
Surprise! Most Kenyans spend their time on the internet searching for online services from the government, institutions and brands or finding solutions which can be solved by a little information from google. Take a look at the topmost googles online services in Kenya
E-citizen is the leading topic under the online services category searched by Kenyans. It gets over 496,000 searches a month, garners even more click and is ranked number 7 of the most searched keywords in Kenya.
Considering the many services offered by the E-Citizen portal such as Registering a Business and applying for a certificate of good conduct, among others this, it’s very reasonable that many people would search this topic often.
4 of the next five keywords refers to the same topic “KRA iTax”. In such a case when keywords representing the same entity appear multiple times, it would be logical to suggest their CNW represents the significance of the topic among the rest.
Also, you might have noticed that all keywords in the online services category have a high dominance percentage some as high as 100% (knec and ntsa tims). This means that the portals being searched are mostly relevant to the Kenyan population as compared to people from the rest of the world.
Apart from government portals, terms related to brands also appeared among the most google online services in Kenya eg; teachers service commission, Safaricom home fiber, zuku etc
All in all this discovery shows how important online services are for businesses and governments serving the Kenyan people. Kenyans have proven to be a very progressive multitude which embraces technology and appreciates efficiency.
Knowing that 14.15% of every Kenyan search with a monthly search volume of over 10,000 should encourage businesses to come up with an online service portal for their customers.
2. Social Media – 11.86 CNW
Social media was bound to be among the topmost searched topic in Kenya or anywhere in the world when the average time people spend on social media in a day is a whole 153 minutes. So besides Kenyans using apps to access their social media platform, they use the internet to protract their socializing habits and account to over 12.9 % of searches.
Interestingly, the top search term was “WhatsApp web” with over 1.06 million monthly searches. I expected ‘Facebook’ to lead but it came second with slightly over 910,000 monthly searches.
WhatsApp web is the web version of the most popular instant messaging platform in the world. But if everybody can have the app on their phones, why would many Kenyans use the web version?
What do you think this means? I think one reason would be to use WhatsApp as a file transfer tool. Have any other ideas?
Following closely were other top social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all whose main search terms garnered over 100,000 searches a month. Some interesting keywords included;
- Truecaller- not necessarily a social platform but a tool people consider essential in their social lives; to know who is calling.
- Zoom – a video conferencing app for people to socialize and organize meetings virtually.
- Tinder – Dating app, talk about taking relationships to the next level.
- Doodle – Another meeting Scheduling tool.
Kenyans are surely embracing technology by using online solutions to meet their immediate needs.
3. Watching Videos – 11.21 CNW
If you aren’t chatting on WhatsApp, scrolling through people’s lives of Facebook and Instagram or checking out trending topics on Twitter, then you must be watching a video on YouTube, movies on Netflix or a downloaded movie or series.
Kenyans are fond of watching. In fact, since 2018, YouTube has experienced a surge in mobile viewership of over 80%. So it’s very logical that most people are searching platforms to access more videos and googling topics related to video content to an extent that it accounts for 11.62% of every popular search in Kenya.
As expected ‘YouTube’ took the lead in this category with over 1.9 million searches a month eclipsing most of the other search terms. ‘Netflix’ surprisingly came second signifying the increased subscription of Kenyans with the mega movie and series database.
‘Showmax’; the African Netflix gets 54,000 main keyword searches a month while Viusasa, Kenya’s version of Youtube gets about 12,000 main keyword searches a month. They are ranked 126 and 592 respectively.
If you take a good look at the rest of the keywords in the top 20 list of words under the Watching topic, a big percentage of the platforms being accessed are content piracy websites. These include; fmovies, 123movies, yts, rarbg, putlockers, and series9.
This tells a lot about the Kenyan market’s toxicity to the film industry. While access to these pirated content allows Kenyans to watch film content at a highly reduced cost and provides employment to many movie shop owners, it kills the film industry.
4. Mail Services – 8.16 CNW
Another popular topic in the Kenyan web-sphere is electronic mail, with Gmail dominating the ranking and garnering a whopping 8.16 cumulative net weight. Email has become a central platform for official communications between professionals today. Also, the fact that most services offered online require you to have a mail to sign up means that almost every Kenyan with access to the internet ought to have a mail they use at least once a month.
Hence it’s very logical that mailing is the fourth most popular thing Kenyans seek for on the web, accounting to 8.46% of every popular search in Kenya.
The two significant competitors of Gmail; outlook/Hotmail and yahoo mail only accounted for 8 entries out of the top 22 entries under the mailing topic. Thus means Kenya is a Gmail maximalist country.
Essentially when people search these keywords, they aim to log in to their account and check their mails. Nothing much about this. The average return rate of this category is 2.4, the approximate number of times Kenyans would access their emails using the most popular keyword.
One entry however not included in the image is Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an email marketing tool used by companies, brands and publishers to reach customers through email. Mailchimp gets at least 10,000 searches a month and is ranked 759; the email marketing industry must be growing.
5. Football – 6.86 CNW
Kenyans must very fond of football. For every 100 popular searches in Kenya, 7 of them have something to do with football. This explains why I’m the only person in my cycle who cannot seat trough 90 minutes of a football match. Everybody seems very fond of the same.
Out of the top 767 keywords in Kenya with over 10,000 searches a month, 83 of them are pegged on football or 10.8%. Among the top-ranked football topics are; ‘EPL table’, ‘livescore’, ‘arsenal’, and ‘manchester united’.
There seems to be a drop in the number of people interested in Manchester United probably because of the lost glory witnessed over there past few years. There was a time Manchester dominated everything and was the most valuable soccer team in the world.
Yet still, the dominance of Arsenal and Manchester United in the search ranks confirms that the two are still the most popular teams and have the largest fan base in Kenya.
Besides popular soccer teams, other keywords that dominated the football category were websites providing score updates i.e. flashscore, hesgoal, futbal24, sofascore, and soccervista.
6. News Updates – 5.8 CNW
Kenyans love to be updated. That’s why for every 100 searches conducted on the most popular keywords, 6 are news related. We are always wondering what’s happening around us and since our country is the leading African nation in smartphone penetration, it makes sense why many news-related searches would be conducted within a month.
Searches relating to top news brands lead the pack with daily nation garnering 355,000 monthly searches, tuko news getting 140,000 searches and the standard having a little over 100,000 searches.
These statistics also resonate with previous research conducted on the most visited local sites in Kenya where Tuko, Nation, Standard, and CitizenTV ranked.
Some top international news outlets also appeared among the top news related search terms eg; BBC News and CNN, signifying some interest in international news.
I tend to believe the group that with the most significant input in this category leading to news-related topic ranking high is the 30-50 years age group. Meanwhile, youths are either watching, on social media, of looking for jobs as we are about to find out.
7. Gambling – 5.55 CNW
I never thought gambling was such a major thing in Kenya. Gambling-related keywords are googled at least 6% of all popular searches in the country. Smartphone penetration has influenced this development since the founding of SportPesa. However, the betting company closed shop in September 2019 and ever since new betting brands have taken over.
‘Betika’ took the throne as the most searched gambling related topic in Kenya with a monthly search volume of 520,000 and even more clicks. This gave it a significantly high Net Weight and it ranked 6th most searched term in Kenya, right after google.
‘Odibet, forebet, bet254, mozzartbet and sportbet followed in that order before a unique brand; betnumbers, which offers betting tips to gamblers appeared on the list. Besides ‘betnumbers’ about 5 other search terms for websites offering betting tips, ranked in the top 20.
Not only do Kenyans betting often, but also seek expert advice and tips to increase their chances of winning. This brings to attention a business opportunity for soccer fans who can turn into bloggers and build a website to offer advice and betting tips.
8. Online Shopping – 5.46 CNW
Over the last 5 years, there has been an increase in the adoption of e-commerce in Africa as more people embrace the change especially from the leading nations (South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya). In Kenya, Jumia has dominated the e-commerce industry making it the most searched brand.
Ranking both at number one and two, jumia gets over 450,000 searches a month from these two keywords alone. There are more jumia related keywords ranking highly as shown in the figure below.
Following closely is Kilimall which gets over 100,000 searches from its main keyword and has a high dominance percentage (97.14%) which signifies its predominance as a local brand. It’s also not a surprise to find ‘amazon, aliexpress, Alibaba and eBay’ among the top-ranking keyword in Kenya. These words represent top e-commerce platforms in the world which signifies Kenyans’ interest in importing products.
Also quite notable is the keyword ‘sbt japan’. SBTJapan is the leading source of second-hand vehicles for Japan. It’s considered a favourite destination for Africans planning to import vehicles.
While Africa’s online shopping rate is low as compared to other continents, there is a steady growth of interest approximately 18% compared to the rest of the world 12%. Today, more people are purchasing products online and having them delivered on their doorstep which is not only convenient but also time-saving.
9. Download Services – 3.65 CNW
4 in every 100 popular keyword searches in Kenya has an intent of downloading content from the internet. This service is mostly offered by torrents sites and piracy sites which have a huge collection of freely downloadable content. To say Kenyans love free stuff is an understatement. I think free downloads is the currency that runs home entertainment in Kenya.
The most popular site used for downloading free content online is Pirates bay. However, 1337x has also gained popularity over the past few years due to its availability when governments were trying to shut down Pirates Bay.
In addition to torrent related searches, software download related searches including getitopc, savefromnet, waptrick, IDM and Softonic ranked highly. So not only is the film industry suffering heavy losses in the country due to piracy, but also the software industry. 8 out of every 10 computers in Kenya runs on pirated software. Mine included.
10. Pornographic Content – 3.54 CNW
Porn is a hot topic on the Kenyan web-space. 3.7% of every single popular search is porn-related. Kenya might seem reserved as compared to other countries outside the African continent, but its true colours reveal when you go online.
55% of Kenyan teens have watched pornography-related content according to recent research by Trends and Insights For Africa. Most of this content is consumed when children are at home so you can imagine what kids have been during the corona break.
Despite intentions by the government to ban pornography and make it inaccessible to Kenyans, they always find ways to get what they want. Which leaves everybody with the personal responsibility to cheese what right.
Additional High ranking topics in Kenya
- Writing and Online Jobs – 3.4090 CNW
- Music – 3.0366 CNW
- Money Matters – 2.2648 CNW
- Travel – 1.1398 CNW
- University Services – 1.1276 CNW
- Language Translation – 0.8383 CNW
- Gaming – 0.7256 CNW
- Job Hunting – 0.6771 CNW
- Online Learning – 0.6248 CNW
How important the statistics revealed from this report depends on your perspective.
As a young person desperately looking for a job yet you possess writing skills, this data tells you exactly what Kenyans are looking for when visiting the internet. You can grab the opportunity to build a topical blog serving avid Kenyan readers and content consumers.
As a business, realizing that online service portals are essential elements of customer satisfaction in Kenya might just be the push you needed to take you to the next level.
As a professional in the creative industry and software industries, what would be more lucrative for you and satisfactory for customers than the make it easy and affordable for the latter to receive your content without getting ripped by piracy and torrents sites?
Also, the fact that Kenyans spend hours daily to consume content on YouTube makes it even more encouraging to start a YouTube channel and transform the creative ideas you have into film positioning yourself in the path of passive income.
All in all, this data is quite instrumental for opportunities hawks.