German Keywords can be Long and Complicated
Businesses must take into account the fact that many words in English are extremely short and can be readily employed to convey a message when marketing products and services to the German-speaking audience. In German, however, many English words become extremely long and complicated. Because the German language is rich in complicated words and phrases, it can be difficult for native speakers to understand the true meaning of the message if it is not translated correctly. Short English words can become very long in the German language.
As a result, the webpage design and the German SEO strategy must be modified to convey the same marketing message as in English. For example, let’s look at the word “matchbox.” The English word is brief, straightforward, very easy to comprehend, and readable.
However, looking at the German spelling, it looks like this: “Streichholzschächtelchen.” As you can see, it’s not as straightforward as in English! It’s important to properly translate the content so that the website visitors understand exactly, in a clear and concise way, what they’re reading about. Otherwise, they may get confused and abandon (high bounce rate) the webpage.
Entire Region or Specific Area Only
When you are targeting German-speaking customers, it is key to understand the differences between the two main dialects in Germany. These two dialects are “Hochdeutsch” and “Umgangssprache.” If you want to address the whole German-speaking market, it makes sense to use “Hochdeutsch,” also known as the standard German language.
Please keep in mind that, while the German-speaking region has many similarities, they are not identical. For example, while Austrians may use “Hochdeutsch” in their daily lives, they may still use their local dialect, “Umgangssprache,” when searching online for certain products or services (e.g., in the tourism sector). This means that specific term keywords, depending on the desired German SEO campaign objective, should be included.
If you just wish to target certain areas, such as Austria, Switzerland, or Luxembourg, rather than the entire German-speaking market, it’s recommended to use their corresponding top-level domains (TLDs), such as “.at” for Austria and “.ch”, “.li”, and “.lu” for Switzerland and Luxembourg, respectively.
The German Accent (Umlaut)
In the German language, “Umlaute” (accents) play a significant role, as most, but not all, users may include them during their Google searches. Commonly, “ä” is replaced as “ae” or “ß” as “ss”. Implementing both writing styles into the content and SEO optimization process increases the pages’ visibility during Google searches.
Even if a popular keyword has an “Umlaut,” it cannot be used in the URL structure of a page. In this scenario, we would use the alternative spelling since these special characters aren’t supported by the HTML language. As a result, web browsers will show them in a jarring way.
Formal or Informal Language
In English, the word “you” is widely used to address a person, although this is not the case in German. There are two different ways to address someone (formal and informal):
- Formal: Sie (you)
- Informal: du (you)
If you want to make a good impression on your consumers, you should utilize the appropriate writing style (formal or casual), which is determined by the audience you want to target. Furthermore, pay great attention to the industry’s standard norms.
To avoid appearing impolite and disrespectful, you must be able to distinguish between these two writing styles and know how and when to apply them appropriately. For example, using the formal “Sie” (you) style in the banking sector is more appropriate. However, targeting younger people and marketing hair products, the informal way “DU” (you) might be a better choice.
Detailed, Long Content is Key
The majority of Germans prefer to read content written in German rather than English. As a result, German is the preferred language for communicating with this market. Long, insightful, and detailed pieces of content that provide readers with a clear picture of a product or service are important to archiving high conversion rates. Because Germans are more distrustful of new things, it takes a lot more effort to persuade them to make a buying decision. Take the opportunity to provide the most valuable information possible.
Stinginess is Cool Culture
“Geiz ist Geil,” as the German proverb goes; translated into English, “stinginess is cool.” In other words, the German people have a reputation for hunting for bargains and extra value. If you are seeking to sell your product or services in Germany, keep this cultural aspect in mind when setting your prices. Many Germans will not buy at full price, so they can be very difficult customers to please! Be aware of this!
Privacy is a Top Priority
Germans value their privacy and do not want their personal data to be shared with others. As a result, it’s no wonder that Germany is one of the most data-protective countries in Europe. This is why the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in 2018, is so critical for companies doing business in Germany.
The GDPR was designed to give individuals more control over their personal data and to ensure that they are fully informed about how their information is used by websites. It also holds companies more accountable for their conduct when acquiring and retaining personal data. It is extremely important to display the necessary legal conditions on a website, since otherwise, certain “Abmahn” laywers may target you with costly warning notices to comply with current GPDPR rules.
Bragging Not Allowed
In Germany, you may have noticed that most people don’t go around showing off the things they have. It’s not cool to brag. Keep this in mind when advertising your services and products on your website.
Content creation and promoting your services or products are necessary aspects of running a business, but if you’re not careful, the approach could come across as too aggressive or pushy. This can result in a poor user experience on the website.
It’s equally important not to make promises that you can’t keep. For example, saying “Our shipping times are the fastest!” or “We will get back to you within 24 hours!” may sound tempting at first glance, but might actually backfire in the end if these statements cannot be upheld.
Show that Customers can Trust Your Brand
Although it may appear to be yet another small, overlooked detail on your website, it is highly advised that you devote time to creating an outstanding impressum (about us) page for the German-speaking market. Not only is it required by law to display the website’s owner information, but also the full contact information (address, phone number) should be disclosed. In Germany, a website with only a “contact us form page” is simply not trusted by consumers. If you don’t display this information, you’ll almost certainly see a significant drop in conversion.
Displaying trust seals from third-party sources is another method to bring your business closer to German customers. These seals indicate that a website has been verified by a third party, which can be interpreted as a sign of authenticity and trustworthiness. These batches are an important part of practically every website in Germany. While only about 30% of e-commerce websites in the United States use them, practically every online store in Germany does.
German SEO Checklist Summary
- Write content in German with targeted SEO keyword research.
- Remember, German words can be long. Keep the meta and title under 60 characters.
- Translate URLs and use accent substitutes.
- Check if your English content is also relevant for German speakers.
- Build backlinks on German .de pages to gain more authority.
- Long-tail keywords are very user-specific and much more effective than in English.