When Covid reared its ugly head, it was one of the most jarring global shocks in many decades and Germany has been particularly affected. Hopefully, 2022 will see Covid diminish to a level that allows us to go about our lives without worry. When mentioning statistics in this article, we will therefore refer back to 2019, as that gives us a more realistic indicator of future potential than the last couple of years.

Should I translate my site?

Translating and optimizing a website takes time and resources. To determine what products and/or services might work best in the German market, here are some statistics to give you an idea of the overall potential:

  • Germany has 82.2 million potential customers for businesses of all kinds and the German population’s average per capita purchasing power was nearly €48,000 in 2019.
  • 95% of searches in Germany are done in Google, so you can ignore other search engines for your SEO.
  • With a median age of 46, Germany has the world’s third oldest population.
  • As most households have two residents, there is a big proportion of the country that come under the coveted consumer group of dual-income, no kids.
  • Some 77.4% of the country live in urban areas, where consumer spending is larger than in rural areas.
  • The populace is both well-educated and highly skilled with 86% having graduated secondary school and 47% having completed vocational training.
  • It’s Europe’s largest online shopping market.
  • Consumers value quality and will pay more for high-quality items and stay loyal to brands that sell these products.
  • Germans are concerned about the environment, as reflected in purchases of organic, vegan, local, and second-hand items.


How to create your German website

To help you take advantage of the market opportunities, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for German website translation below. As it takes a native speaker to create relevant and engaging content for your website, consider using a local SEO agency if you feel out of your depth to ensure nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Decide which CMS to use

The most popular CMS’s like WordPress, Drupal and PrestaShop all allow you to create multi language websites on different domain names, or different sub-domains. If your site is already in one of these CMS systems, you’re best using the same CMS to create your German website. If it’s in a CMS which isn’t compatible with multiple languages, you may find it easier to convert it to one first, then change it so it’s multilingual, rather than creating a second site.

This is because with a shared database it’s a lot easier to edit the site, do ongoing security updates and add new features, rather than having to do everything twice.

  1. Choose a domain name

Google tries to rank sub-domains and separate domains equally, however if you have a lot of links to your English site, a sub-domain may be slightly easier to rank for than a separate German domain.

The exception is where your English domain is regional (e.g. a .co.uk or .au) or is a keyword rich English domain that doesn’t translate well into German. Either of these would be bad for your German SEO, so it is better to use a separate domain in these situations.

  1. Adapt your German content

Germany and the UK are very different countries in so many ways other than language; the TV shows watched, the music listened to, the politics guiding the country, and the cultural touchpoints that most people there resonate with. First review the content to be translated to make sure that it will still work with a German audience.

If you’re doing a multilingual SEO campaign then research keywords for each country using an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. See Ahrefs guide to multilingual SEO for more information.

  1. Identify which blog posts to translate

Not every blog post gets the same amount of traffic, so use Google Analytics or Ahrefs to find out which English-language posts are doing the best and prioritise reworking that content for the German site. Then, examine those that aren’t doing as well and see whether you can change the keywords, length, article type, etc, to help the post succeed on both languages.

  1. Localise your Metatags

Metatags are essential for helping people choose which website to visit from the search engine results, but can be easily missed because they don’t appear on the page. Make sure not to copy the English version with English keywords or your site traffic will suffer.

  1. Translate your URLs

Google will only index one version of each URL, which means that if you’re using the same domain for German and English with the option to change language at the top of the page, potential consumers will be taken to the English site first. Some users won’t see where the change language feature is and will click off.

Simply using a sub-folder or sub-domain for the German version fixes this, but the better option, for SEO and customer engagement, is to set up a separate German site with the .de domain and translate the URLs fully. This will make the URLs more user-friendly and mean that they contain relevant keywords.

  1. Focus on Facebook and LinkedIn for Social Media campaigns

The German social media sites with the most everyday users are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Xing, and LinkedIn, but we recommend focusing your marketing efforts on Facebook and LinkedIn, at least at first, unless you have quality videos you can share.

With YouTube relying heavily on video content and Instagram and Pinterest on images, we advise skipping these social media if you don’t produce enough content to keep the profiles updated weekly. Twitter is used much less frequently in Germany than English-speaking countries, likely because the site’s 280-character limit can be tough when many German words are long. Xing is mainly used for recruitment, which makes it a bad fit for your marketing strategy.

  1. Build German backlinks for optimal SEO

Start by looking up your keywords on google.de (or set a Google alert). When a relevant post appears, be it on Quora, Reddit, a news site, or a social media post, write a response that answers a question or builds upon the information and include the URL to your website. This simple approach helps generate traffic to your site, which Google also measure, even if the backlinks themselves are nofollow, meaning they don’t contribute directly to your SEO.

  1. Run a guest posting campaign

The best backlinks for Google ranking come from German-language guest posts on relevant authority sites. To find a website looking for content, type in your keyword and a term like “Gastbeitrag senden” or “schreib für uns”. Then, you can pitch them a post that is relevant to your company and helpful to their audience.

This article has given you the starting steps for marketing your business in Germany. As your business and market share grows, you’ll need to adapt the approach based on what resonates with your customers. If you’d like to learn more, check out these other strategies for European SEO.

This is all part of a long-term approach to building your business in a different market and should be easy when informed by the research you do. We wish you the best of luck with your German website launch.

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