SEO and Social Media in Germany

The problem

Small companies in Germany are having trouble with both, SEO and social media. The reason for that is, the way I see it in my daily encounters with companies, that they are still stuck in the mentality of 2009. These same companies used to be on the technological forefront, as far as SEO was concerned. They did their keyword spamming, they bought links from shady link farms, all the while SEO agencies promised them the coveted #1 spot on Google search results.

Of course, when you start from the bottom, that’s rather simple to achieve. Especially if you don’t really have any competition in your region, and one of the words in your keyword phrases is the name of your city. All the SEO “pros” had to do, was make sure they filled the content with keywords and built shady back links. And voila, the client was #1, they earned a quick paycheck and no one was the wiser. And so it went on for years. At a certain point these SEO tactics didn’t work anymore, but that didn’t stop so called SEO professionals from offering, for frankly ridiculous sums of money, to the naive and trusting German business owners. Who were told by their buddies from the first case, how such tactics helped them come to the top of the search results.

Alas, those days are long gone and the results were not repeatable. Therefore there are thousands of middle-aged business men and women, who cringe at the mention of SEO optimization. They tried it once and it was a waste of money, but worst of all, their pride was hurt.

Fast Forward to 2017

The same people are in an even bigger need of online optimization. But this time around it’s with “social media” – the current state of the internet. Google got much smarter in the last 10 years, yet the conviction that keyword spamming and link building are the way to go, refuses to roll over and die. Mobile phones are quickly replacing television as the go-to screen for pretty much everybody under the age of 40. Yet an astonishing amount of web pages are not even mobile friendly, let alone mobile first. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are ruling the attention of our customers. Yet barely anyone is using these platforms to build their own digital brand.

Why? Because the mentality of yesteryear stuck. Business owners say, I once tried SEO optimization and got nothing to show for it, why would social be any different? Or, that’s for young kids. Or my favorite, how can I measure the ROI of Snapchat. And these questions get asked by 50 year old C-Level Executives, who are getting their flyers ready to be distributed to random mailboxes around town.


For fucks sake! Wake up! There are online platforms that offer you simple to use ad products, for literally peanuts money. Allowing you to boost your promotional video to all 64 25-year old women, who like cats, live in the radius of 2 km from your shop location, have an affinity towards fast food, but have also checked into a fitness club in the last month. Out of those 64 maybe only 5 will click-through and buy your product, or come by your shop. If you are careful with your targeting and creative decisions that number should be at least in double digits. But you spent under 100€ on this promotion, excluding the creative services.

Compare this to several thousand €, you are willing to pay for design, print and distribution of 10.000 flyers to random households. Ten of those random people will end up becoming your customers. The trend in Germany is clear. The printed word rules. Everybody agrees, we did our best. We got 10 customers! Well, you could have gotten 10.000!

So the moral of this rant is the following. Now mark this down.

The online landscapes are open to everybody. All you need is the decision to go there.

If you’re one of the “early” adopters (in Germany anyway), it will be easier to build up a following. Not easy. But easier than if you show up in five years, after the next thing comes along. And at that point you will be reminiscing about the days when you got fucked over by those SEO dudes and realize that Facebook Ads would have been quite a neat product. Back when it was still practically free.

But then it’ll be too late, and you are still gonna be printing your god damn flyers. Because the next big platform is just for the kids, am I right?

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