To enhance your online visibility in the Netherlands, you’ll need a solid Dutch SEO strategy – and localization is key to success. Here’s what you need to know.
Today, the Netherlands is the fifth-largest exporter in the world. Its ongoing economic success makes it an attractive target for international brands.
The Dutch enjoy fast internet and online shopping – 30% of consumers buy something online at least once a week. In such a competitive market, boosting online visibility through Dutch SEO is an essential part of an effective Netherlands market strategy.
Here are the key tips to keep in mind.
VOICE SEARCH IS ON THE RISE
Google is the preferred search engine in the Netherlands, with a market share of 96%. Mobile accounts for 40% of the Dutch market, with 51% of consumers sticking to desktop. As with other markets, online behavior aligns with age. The younger your audience, the more you should prioritize mobile.
Voice search is also increasingly important in the Netherlands. Optimizing your content for it – and localizing into Dutch – is a great way to reach customers at home.
29% of households use voice search on their mobile phones. And in October 2018, Google launched its Google Home product with Dutch language support. As a result, 5% of Dutch households bought one in the first five months.
Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t yet offer Dutch as a language. The 1% of Dutch households with Alexa rely on their use of English or German for voice control. Amazon could soon find itself losing out as the vast majority of device adoption is trending to Google Home following Dutch-language localization.
LANGUAGE IS KEY
To build a successful Dutch SEO strategy, you need to speak the right language. But don’t make assumptions. Here are key considerations:
1. ENGLISH HAS ITS LIMITS
The Dutch have the best English proficiency in the world. So it’s not surprising many of their online searches are in English. Plus, five million Dutch shoppers bought from foreign sites last year – 3.7% of total online spending. If you need to get started quickly, launching in English is a great start.
Long-term, though, sticking exclusively to English content will limit your reach. As with any developed economy with a strong competitive market place, an authentic localized experience is essential. And the top eCommerce platforms in the Netherlands are either local or localized. To truly embed your brand in the Netherlands, you’ll have to go Dutch with your online experience.
2. SEARCH TERMS ARE NUANCED
Dutch grammar can be challenging for SEO. As part of the Germanic language family, Dutch features long compound nouns. This means multiple words can be strung together to make a new one. Like “zoekmachineoptimalisatie” (search engine optimization).
This can present challenges with title tag and meta description character restrictions. But more importantly, the way people search is often grammatically incorrect. Dutch internet users often break up words into their original components. Here’s an example – the correct Dutch term has the least searches:
Source: Google Trends
Google is pretty good at identifying relevant Dutch synonyms and closely related searches, then serving those up on the SERP. Whether users break up the word or not, it shouldn’t have much impact on your ranking.
But this is a great example of why in-market keyword research is so important, especially when it comes to paid search. Keyword research uncovers synonyms or related searches that get to the heart of search behavior. Keyword translation only gives you the most obvious linguistic option. It won’t provide any insight into what your searchers are looking for – and you could miss out on better keywords to target. That could involve a blend of English and Dutch terms, as well as compounded terms.
3. REGIONAL SEARCH TRENDS VARY
The trend toward English doesn’t affect all of the Netherlands equally. The English keyword in the example above is particularly popular in North and South Holland. In all other sub-regions, Dutch is preferred.
Source: Google Trends
If you’re expanding beyond metropolitan hubs like Amsterdam and The Hague, using Dutch will be most effective. In-market keyword research aligned with your growth goals will help you take an informed approach to your SEO and PPC strategies.
GLOBAL SEO TRENDS APPLY
Blending local and global search trends as part of your localized SEO strategy is another important consideration.
Take zero-click searches, for example. 50% of searches don’t result in a click on any link – paid or organic. To counteract this, your Dutch SEO strategy should include ranking for featured snippets. These are concise answers to queries, picked out by Google. Like this:
Not only do they appear in a prominent position (“position zero”), they also get better results than plain links.
Identifying which search queries will trigger a featured snippet should be part of your Dutch keyword research. Specialist tools can help with this, like SEMRush. Structured data will then help you create a webpage Google can easily “read” and turn into a featured snippet.
Of course, this is just one SEO consideration among many. Google is becoming a search destination, not just a route to other sites. It’s invested heavily in machine learning, and its algorithm is getting better at interpreting what searchers are looking for. Start your Dutch expansion with a tailored strategy for your brand.
Dutch SEO has many similarities with other European markets. But there’s strong local competition. While English is fine as a starting point, long-term success depends on a localized approach and an evolving strategy designed to build engagement with an authentic in-language experience. Start small and see what results get the most traction. As you gain data about Dutch local trends, you can build out your localization strategy and target specific regions to get the results you’re after.