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German search engines and what to consider when optimising for them


(Updated with the latest stats on April 2020)

With over 79 million internet users, equivalent to 94% of the population, Germany comes in at eleventh place when looking at internet population size worldwide.

With such a large and relatively wealthy online population, Germany is understandably an attractive target market for many businesses considering expanding internationally.

This blog post will teach you about the most popular German search engines and what you need to know about German SEO in order to succeed.

Most popular German search engines

  • Google 95%
  • Bing 3%
  • Ecosia 0.7%

Google is by far the most popular of the German search engines, accounting for 95% of all searches in the country. Bing comes in at second place, with a 3% share of the search market, followed by Ecosia (a environmentally-friendly search engine that uses its ad revenue to plant trees) in third place at 0.7%.


Umlauts and German SEO

One of the main challenges in German SEO is finding out how German users actually search for things.

In the past, the Keyword Planner tool would give us monthly averages of search volumes for everything we put in the tool’s search box. It would also present us with a number of suggestions for related keywords.

Today, this is no longer the case. Google now decides (in ways only known to itself) whether a keyword is worth presenting a unique search volume for or whether it will be put in a bucket together with others and given a combined search volume. Sometimes it also changes what has been typed into something it likes better.

You can learn more about how to handle the complexities brought up by umlauts in the guide below.


Compound nouns and German SEO

Another complication of German SEO are compound nouns, which are commonly found in the German language.

In the past, Google would present very similar results for the split and compound versions of nouns, something that many Germans were in favour of, as it showed that the search engine understood that they were the same concept.

Nowadays, however, Google no longer treats compound nouns and their split variations as the same word. Instead, I would dare to claim that they get mixed up with all sorts of thematic ideas of how keywords should be conveying a concept rather than a semantic entity. I could be wrong – indeed I hope I am – but if not, then one thing is clear: German SEO has just become quite a bit more complicated.


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Jens Kuhn

Operations Manager at Webcertain
Jens is the Operations Manager at Webcertain. He was born in Germany and moved to Sweden when he was 19, where he lived for 20 years before moving to the UK. Having worked as a journalist and magazine editor for many years, he has always had an interest in the internet and created his first webpage in 1993. Working for Webcertain since 2010, Jens has made his way from SEO Project Manager within the Keywords department to working more strategically with improving processes and efficiencies across the operations departments.

4 Responses to German search engines and what to consider when optimising for them

  1. Aastha Pachpande says:

    interesting article about Digital marketing peoples for the promote website in germany.

  2. Dewan says:

    indeed an interesting article about people’s taste in search engines in germany

  3. […] An interesting piece by, Jens Kuhn at WebCertain, on how Google treats these never-ending words, finds that marketers could have issues when optimising or planning PPC campaigns for German compound nouns. […]

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