SEO for Switzerland – an Exhaustive Guide
Planning to expand your business in Switzerland? The most important thing is to take care of the company’s web visibility. And to be successful in that, you need to know Swiss internet users. Who are they? Which industries best cope with the Swiss franc crisis? And finally: how to perform a full-fledged Switzerland-tailored SEO? All those topics are discussed in the following article!
Regardless of whether you are a B2B or B2C service provider, being internet-strong pays off. Online-oriented migration of the customers is a known fact – this is how potential service or product suppliers are sought after today. This is particularly true about Switzerland, where – according to The International Telecommunication Union – internet penetration rate is one of the highest of all countries. The data show that almost 85% of the population is plugged-in. SEO in Switzerland will therefore be crucial for building your brand and customer trust.
SEO in Switzerland – the tongue is paramount!
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There are as many as 4 official languages in Switzerland: apart from German and Italian, French and Romansh (otherwise known as the Romanche, one of Rhaeto-Romance languages subfamily) are spoken. Search engine optimization for Switzerland will therefore strongly rely on the language spoken in the canton that the online campaign targets. There are 26 cantons (administrative units) in Switzerland and any SEO campaign needs to depend on the language that’s predominantly spoken by the inhabitants of a given unit. The most prevalent is obviously German – spoken by 65% of people in 19 cantons. French comes as the second, used by 23% of the people, followed by Italian spoken by 8% (mainly residents of Ticino). The most interesting, however, are Rhaeto-Romance languages, represented mainly by Romansh, which was accepted as an official national language of Switzerland only in 1996; spoken by approx. 40 000 people – i.d. 0.5% of the Swiss population – used mainly in Grisons. This is how it all looked in 2000:
However, the official languages are merely one thing – the Swiss treat them as foreign anyway. Official texts, books etc. are created according to the globally officially accepted spelling and other rules. However, on a daily basis, the Swiss speak several dialects, so if you’re planning SEO in Switzerland, you must know the names of the services you offer in a variety of languages, e.g. Schwyzerdütsch, which has different vocabulary than in the German that’s known to us. Important, expect no understanding from the Swiss – it’s perfectly okay for them to speak in dialects in official situations and only well-educated residents will use the textbook language in speech and writing.
What to look out for when doing business in Switzerland
Considering starting a business in Switzerland? Or maybe you just want to deliver products / services there? Before you decide, consider several points. particularly, the 3 below, that you will find helpful:
The competition – before launching an SEO campaign for Switzerland, it’s essential to conduct a website audit, which needs to include competition analysis: their target audience reaching strategies, their website UI solutions, and so on. The Swiss market is considered to be globally one of the most competitive, so online brand building is crucial.
Which market segments are you targeting? Who’s your audience? What tongue do they speak (out of 4 official languages and dozens of dialects on top of that)? Which cultural community do they belong to?
What value, that you can deliver, they seek for? A good practice tip: pitch the global recognition of your brand, and the loyal customers already acquired.
SEO in Switzerland – Suchmaschinenoptimierung Tipps
SEO in Switzerland is similar to SEO targeting German and English speaking countries. As pretty much anywhere, the 1st search results page is what counts, and – like anywhere – getting there is challenging. The Swiss, however, exhibit a distinctive online behavior – they are impatient and spontaneous – as many as 90% of Internet users click only the links ranked within TOP3. Only few users ever look at the 2nd SERP page. So, what’s your Switzerland SEO goal? TOP 10, at the very least.
Let’s begin with a look at the graph below, showing the search engines the Swiss mostly use.
Google.ch leads undeniably, therefore your SEO needs to focus on it. Google is then followed by Bing. Interestingly enough, DuckDuckGo appears in the statistics – this engine uses websites created by users to improve its search results.
To be successful in Swiss market SEO, mind the link building! Links should be built as when targeting Germany, but it’s hard to reach amny high quality .ch domains. The standard Switzerland SEO process needs to include:
- Business, thematic and local directories link submissions. See a list of Swiss-domain SEO directories below:
- Forums – posting and linking on Swiss internet forums – however, for German-language forums, generally the moderation is strong, therefore posts need to be insightful and relevant, otherwise it’s practically impossible to build links there.
- Content creation – creating high-quality content in the language spoken by the largest percentage of the website users.
- Local activities – best if targeting a specific town, where the company needs to build its brand or sell in. These can be links featured in articles or local business directories. You can go extra miles, such sponsoring local events. As a result, the company logo with a link should be featured on the event or town website.
- Content-rich blogs should be submitted to dedicated blog directories, for example www.blog-webkatalog.de/ (for blogs with German-language entries).
- Comments on blogs, although they do not have that SEO significance anymore, they can still help in the initial link building process – especially the dofollow links. It’s best to keep comments industry-related, thus increasing the likelihood of getting users’ attention.
- Some news portals feature information about new services or finished projects – they also can be useful SEO-wise.
- Of rather small, albeit still, significance, on the Swiss market are so-called article directories; such blogs/websites accept text entry + link submissions.
- Straightforward link purchase is very popular both on the Swiss and German market – for instance, a small sum can get you, e.g. 300 dofollow links on blogs. However, this solution is not recommended, as Google disapproves links built in a bulk or coming from low quality domains.
More Swiss SEO tips
As in the case of other European countries, Swiss Top Level Domain – .ch. – is paramount SEO-wise. However, with a .com website Swiss SEO is still feasible. Users are less likely to stumble upon it, but it’s not impossible. However, the legal issues are of importance – since 2012, every Swiss website must feature the following company information: the name, legal form, address, contact details (so-called impressum).
The Swiss make a distinctive target group. To appeal to them, speak in numbers (e.g. product dimensions), instead of elaborating on your company’s mission. Virtually every Swiss-made website has contact form, and the customers are eager to enquiry.
As in the case of, for example, SEO in Spain, social media visibility is paramount. Quality social media activity is the cornerstone of brand building and increases website traffic. See the social media most commonly used by the Swiss:
As in most countries, Facebook use is the most prevalent. It is interesting, however, that the second place holder is not Twitter or Google+, but Pinterest. For positioning in Switzerland, the 4th placeholder it crucial, too – Tumblr; regular posting can significantly boost your website traffic.
Bonus: which industries deal with the Swiss franc crisis best?
The market news, the recent economic crisis and the deep trouble many people who took a loan in Swiss franc found themselves in, certainly can make one wonder, if Swiss market is good idea at all. Swiss market has been in stagnation for some time – however, we are talking about an economy that avoided a looming recession. Swiss franc exchange rate plummet did slow the Swiss economy down, but did not stop it altogether. After the so-called “Black Thursday” Swiss companies were facing some problems, too, and staying on the market is currently a challenge. Pharmaceutical companies are in the best situation; the education industry is doing only a bit worse, but manufacturers of luxury goods are still on the rise – globally recognized Swiss watches never fail you down. On the other hand, the services grow, too – including medical. The tourism in Switzerland faces a lot of problems today – after the Swiss franc exchange rate drop, the number of foreign clients decreased.
Despite the crisis, Swiss economy is still stable enough to build a successful company or expand a business. Including SEO in your business model will not only allow you to get ahead of the competition, but also is an opportunity of building a strong brand position. Remember, however, that only thoughtful and long-term-oriented international SEO process allows ultimately high search results rankings and, hence, strengthening the position of your company on the Swiss market.
Thank you for this article with useful insights, data and hints that helped me for my SEO work on my own website in Switzerland.