underperforming website owner worriedly looking at laptop screen and pressing hands on head
Jul 12, 2016

14 reasons why your German website is underperforming

Why website localisation for Germany is crucial to the success of your German site.

The internet is the simplest, cheapest way of conducting international trade in export markets and tourism related businesses. If you want to make the most of your web marketing in Germany and other European countries, then you need to work out how to successfully target German speaking markets.

The obvious approach would be to create region-targeted sections of your existing website, rather than go to the trouble of creating individual sites for each country. This makes sense financially too. After all, English is the official language for over 50 countries, so one English-based site should work for all of them, right?

Sadly, it’s not that straightforward.

In fact, adopting this approach can be bad for your brand, which is why your website should be localised for Germany, as well as other German speaking countries. Your clients may be able to converse with you in your language. However, they will trust your products and services infinitely more if it speaks to them in their own language and just adding a foreign language section to your existing site won’t go far enough if you really want to connect to your audience.

Your English language site should not be the blueprint for all other sites. It’s designed to specifically target your Irish or English audience! If you make a mess of your English into German web localisation, you may alienate or even repel your target audience in another country.

In this blog post, I go through the main reasons why your site might not be performing as well as you’d like and what you can do about it.

1. Lack of cultural sensitivity

It’s important to be sensitive to the culture, and steer clear of any topics that might make the reader frustrated, offended or upset. For example, it’s advisable not to ‘mention the war’ if you’re targeting the German market, and also be aware that they’re passionate about protecting the environment, so take recycling, organic food and other related issues very seriously. Be aware of local tastes and tailor content accordingly.

2. Your figures are all wrong

It goes without saying that you should provide prices in the local currency. You should also present your date in the right format – day/ month / year. Note also that the Germans use a comma to show decimal places in numbers and that the Euro sign is written at the end of a number. For example, €2,345.67 would become 2.345,67 € on a German website.

3. Your videos are in the wrong language

Remember that all your content needs to be in German. Subtitle or dub English videos wherever possible. This will ensure your users don’t feel alienated by any aspect of your site.

4. You’re addressing your visitors incorrectly

In Ireland and the UK, it’s more common to address people in an informal way. However, Germans prefer a more formal style. For example, in English, we just say ‘you’, whether we’re talking to a friend or a client. However, in German, ‘Sie’ is used for formal situations and ‘Du’ for informal situations. Taking this further, in English, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a person’s first name in business. However, in Germany, this would be regarded as being over-familiar.

5. You’re using bad examples

Remember, different cultures are interested in different things. For example, don’t talk about rugby (Germans aren’t so interested in this sport). Instead, talk about football. Don’t refer to an English make of car, refer to a German one! Tailor your content to suit the tastes and interests of your audience.

6. Your sayings make no sense

Most Irish or UK sayings do not translate directly into German. For example, if you try to literally translate ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, this will be very confusing to your German audience!

7. You’re not using appropriate references

Remember, your German audience has a different history and culture. Don’t refer to Irish or UK history – this might not be known by your target readers!

8. You’re using uniquely Irish or UK sayings

If your site contains phrases in the vernacular, then it’s worth working with an experienced translator who is able to use the equivalent German appropriate informal language to match the feel of your company ethos.

9. Your product names don’t translate well

Be warned. Sometimes when you translate product names literally, they can sound very strange indeed!

10. You don’t acknowledge regional diversity

Be aware that different areas use different forms of the German language. For example, special dishes such as ‘Weißwurst & Brezen’ are only known in the south of Germany, not the north, and Lederhosen und Dirndl are typically not worn outside of Bavaria and Austria and certain parts of Switzerland.

11. You haven’t optimised your SERPs

It’s important to note that localised sites with a top-level domain (for example, .de for Germany), hosted on service providers in the target country, will offer considerable SEO advantages. To illustrate the point, if a German user was to search for ‘wandern in Irland’ (walking in Ireland), and your company offers walking tours in Ireland on a site that’s hosted in Germany, you’re far more likely to rank highly in the German search results than if you had a German section on a .co.uk or .ie site.

12. You haven’t tested your site’s appearance across languages

Language often increases or decreases in translation. What may look good in one language on your web page might look wrong in another! Going from German to English, you can expect around 35% expansion upon translation. For example, if you have a tagline, you might find that this becomes longer in translation and doesn’t look as good on the page. Likewise, long paragraphs may grow when localised, which is a major issue if your web designer is using static sizes for text boxes.

13. You haven’t localised your keywords

If your priority is to increase web traffic and sales in another country, then you need to focus on localising your SEO strategy, to ensure people can actually find your content. However, a direct translation of keywords is hardly ever effective. In fact, different markets tend to use completely different search terms, even if they’re looking for the same thing. As a result, you’ll need to carry out market research, in order to understand the differences and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

14. You haven’t conformed to local legal requirements

Remember to always take into consideration the legalities of different countries. For example, the German ‘Impressum’ is a term given to a legally mandated statement of the ownership / authorship of the site. This page has to be included within any German, Austrian or Swiss site.

Why You Need Me To Help Your Business Reach Out To The German Market

One of the most difficult decisions you will need to make when it comes to international digital marketing and website localization is finding a highly-experienced and knowledgeable company that provides web marketing services specifically for Germany and other German speaking nations. After all, you need them to deal with international SEO, digital marketing, localization, international SEA, translation, etc.

Yes, there are a number of reputable companies that can offer these and other services, but a limited number have the necessary skills and experience you require to ensure your business is successful in the foreign market.

If all this seems like a lot to take on board, don’t worry. I can successfully assist you with the process to help you hit your business goals.

My strength to help you is here if you need a service provider that:

  • Can understand the German market – culture and language.
  • Is geared to drive sales to your website. I don’t just come up with an approach for marketing or language. I come up with a sales-driven approach to use for your foreign Internet presence.
  • Has comprehensive knowledge of the market. Instead of focusing on the whole world, I keep my attention on Germany, Ireland, Great Britain and Austria due to the knowledge I have on them. I stay current with the news of the countries, speaking the local language and using my network of contacts to keep an eye on, research and communicate within the markets.
  • Has a pragmatic approach. I understand website localisation and digital marketing, and my projects begin with a business perspective not a technological one.
  • Has one-of a kind skills to offer your company. In order to be successful in a foreign market, you need someone who has the skills and experience in various areas – website localisation, digital marketing, market knowledge, business consulting, etc. You also need someone with a firm grasp of SEO, content strategy and translation. I have all these skills for both the German and English-speaking markets that can help you be successful in countries where German is spoken.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch and let me help your business expand into new territories.

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