German SEO Services

Reach German-speaking customers with German SEO

DACH Countries

German-speaking markets are very attractive for companies of all stripes. Sometimes called DACH, the market typically includes three German-speaking countries:

  • Germany (D for Deutschland, what Germany calls itself)
  • Austria (A for Austria because it’s easy)
  • Switzerland (CH for Confoederatio Helvetica, the Latin name for the country).

All three countries are highly industrialized and technologically savvy, with high levels of income. German users are well-versed in the digital world, adapting to social media and other new platforms quickly. However, only 5% of content on the web is in German. From an SEO perspective, that means that many broad terms have less competition than in English, so even small moves can make a big impact. If you’re entering Europe, it makes sense to include German in your online presence. 

Regional Overview

CountrySize (mi2)Population (million)GDPCurrency
Germany138,06783.8 4 trillionEUR
Austria32,3839470.9 billionEUR
Switzerland15,9408.7818.4 billionCHF

Targeting German Consumers

Before we get into the nitty gritty of keywords and content, let’s start with a marketing basic: your target audience. While many audiences are the same from English to German, sometimes there are significant differences either in demographics or in attitudes and values in your German audience. You’ll want to do a quick sanity check and basic research to confirm whether your pitch stays the same, or whether you need a slight adjustment to have effective communication with German speakers. A good German SEO agency will be able to guide you in this process. 

Even when the attitudes and demographics are the same, sometimes there are local brands, products, or customs that are important to consider. For instance, in the gambling sector, Americans are used to mega casinos. In Germany, there are mostly slot parlors. These are often owned by the slot machine manufacturers. These manufacturers don’t play on the international gambling stage, so US or UK SEO professionals may not be aware of these players. For your German population, not mentioning these companies is a major miss! 

How is German SEO Different from English SEO?

The concepts of search engine optimization are the same – you need German website content based around popular keywords, supported by links from other German sites. Easy, right? Just throw it all into a translator and you’re done! To borrow a fantastic German term: jein

There are a lot of similarities – German search engines are the same as US preferences, so you’re looking at about 90% of users leveraging Google, the leading search engine, and another 5% using Bing, with the final 5% split between Yandex, Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo.

Keyword stuffing and spammy content tactics aren’t necessary and will do you more harm than good. All your best practices – including meta tags, minimizing load time in website design, internal linking, and delivering useful content to the German market, all still apply. So what’s the difference? 

​Keyword Research

German keyword research is tricky. In English, we enter our term and let software iterate on variations. Relatively straightforward. Because of how the German language builds words, you wind up having to do double the keyword research.

For example, in English a search for “cup” will bring up “coffee cup” and “cup of coffee”. In German, a search for “Tasse” will bring up “Tasse Kaffee,” (“cup of coffee,” 2400 volume) but not the much more popular “Kaffeetasse” (“coffee cup,” 9900 volume). So German SEO experts really have to approach keyword research from multiple angles to find the right keywords, whether composite terms or not.

Sometimes German keywords for a coffee cup can be a challenge

Secondly, German often borrows English terms, especially in the IT, tech, and marketing space. So you may have a mix of German and English words. Sometimes those terms get funky, like the German word for cell phone: das Handy. So in some areas, you’ll run keywords in English, then in German, and compare the volume and competition. It may be that your German keywords aren’t German at all. 

Finally, abbreviations. Germans love abbreviations. So if your company or industry uses an abbreviation, you’ll want to double-check that it isn’t already in use. One example is MDR in the cybersecurity field. This term will never, ever rank in Germany. Why? One of the state-sponsored radio and TV channels is also MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk). You won’t be able to get over that bit of common knowledge among German speakers.

German Content Building

Translation

Translation is the art of staying as close to the original content as possible. This is best for press releases, instruction manuals, medical information, and other items where technical accuracy and adherence to brand standards is critical. Translation is done by a translator who is fully versed in both the original and target language. Usually, they’re a native speaker of the target language, but not always. The translator should always receive a content brief as well as the original content. Because of the skills required, translation is usually the most expensive content strategy.

Localization

Localization allows the translator to adapt the content for the local market. It’s still done by a translator with deep knowledge of the source and target languages in international markets. However, the translator is given a little more wiggle room to adapt to German customers’ preferences. This can be as small as choosing local sports teams for examples, switching from Imperial to metric units of measurement, or putting a slightly different spin on a certain point you’re trying to make. Localization is a good idea when you’re entering new markets and want to really reach potential customers, but want your content to adhere to a strong brand template.

Transcreation as a German SEO Strategy

Transcreation is the least related to your original content. With transcreation, you create a content brief for the writer and allow them to write based off the brief. You don’t need to have an English original piece. As your keywords may turn up items exclusive to the German market, it would be wasteful to write a piece in English to have it translated. It’s better to have that written in the native language the first time around for better results. Usually, the brief is in English, and the writer returns a German piece. In this case, the writer doesn’t have to be fully bi-lingual, and the text doesn’t have to match. So the cost drops significantly. 

AI For German Online Content

Translation is one of the fields where machine learning has been used for a long time. AI can help with basics, like button wording, Impressum drafting, and other standard pieces. It may be helpful for Google Ads and email campaigns as well. However, when it comes to content, it’s not quite there yet. The German language makes this extra complicated, as it has a lot of things that are hard for LLMs to manage: formal and informal address, article declension, and adjective endings based on noun gender and grammatical case, just to name a few. You may think that generating the content via AI and letting a German SEO copywriter proofread it will be cheaper and faster. Unfortunately, this isn’t often the case. The piece often has to be significantly re-written, which means higher prices for proofreading AI content than for proofing human-written content.

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