When I was little, I was diagnosed with a minor form of dyslexia and every now and then I catch myself doing something backwards. Such is the case with my German search marketing tips -- I started with the strategic in part one, covering issues such as focusing on the long tail, being content rich and descriptive in your copy, and being local.
Had my subconscious dyslexia not kicked in, I would've started with this article, which focuses mainly on the market and general search optimization tips.
In any case, the German market is an extremely tough market to crack. If you're just getting started in international search, you might want to start in easier countries.
Tip 6: Knowing your German Market
German search optimizer Michael Pauls of SEOMaxx provides some interesting statistics on the German market.
There are roughly 4 billion searches a month in Germany:
- 37 percent of the searches are one-word queries
- 32 percent are two words
- 25 percent are three to four words
This point justifies the fact that concentrating on long tail keywords in Germany will bring you the best results, and also illustrates that search terms continue to get more detailed and descriptive.
Another interesting statistic is what Germans typically look for online. Some of the top search topics are:
- Local search and entertainment (50 percent)
- Society, computers, electronic (45 percent)
- Travel (33 percent)
Google is the prominent search engine of choice, with about 90 percent market share. However, there are still some big portals, such as www.gmx.de and www.web.de as well as other search engines such as tOnline (powered by Google) and Yahoo. As far as social networks go, Facebook has many users in the market and is growing fast. However, the hugely popular German student-based social network StudiVZ still has Facebook beat with about 40 percent more users.
Credit cards aren't used that much in Germany. Most prefer to use direct debit (Bankeinzugsverfahren) to avoid owing anybody anything.
Tip 7: German Mobile
Only 5.4 percent (up from 3.4 percent in 2008) of Germans use mobile Internet and search daily, generating a measly 60 million searches yearly.
Who knows what it will take to grow the German mobile search market. Perhaps a German made and manufactured mobile device provided by the Deutsche telecom giant, T-Mobile?
Tip 8: German SEO Tactics
German search tactics are generally the same as they are everywhere else. Try getting German hosting and a German ccTLD for best results.
Copy must be very descriptive and being local is truly the best way to gain the German hearts and minds. These guys trust their manufactured goods and services more than they do any other country, much like Japan.
SEO is highly competitive in many ways. One such way is link building. Although paid link practices aren't uncommon, persuading a webmaster to link from their page to yours is uncommon and very difficult.
Germans like to own their site and even link exchanges. Interesting content may not be enough.
Your best bet: create a site that the German users love and will likely link to by choice. The other alternative is to find relevant German directories, as well as online PR.
Tip 9: The German Language
The language spoken and written in Germany is known as "Hochdeutsch," or "High German." You wouldn't normally search in any particular dialect, unless of course you were trying to target the Swiss Germans with your site (a practice I don't recommend).
Keep in mind that broken compounds and misspellings are common. For example, in (Espresso Beans) "espressobohnen" could be written as a broken compound such as "espresso bohnen" or (Coffee) "kaffee" misspelled "Kaffe."
Targeting the German market isn't easy, but it can be done. Remember that the Germans are similar to the Japanese in that they like their own products and services, they trust their own level of quality, and have more appreciation for what is local rather than what is abroad. If you can succeed in this market, you'll find it is one of the most lucrative and important European markets.
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