– what do you need to know?
Belgium is home to over 11.5 million people, 93% of whom have access to the Internet. It is a very developed country in economic terms, divided into three autonomous regions: Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. When thinking about SEO, it is also worth remembering the official languages, which include German, French and Dutch. Despite its small area and population, Belgium is an extremely attractive market for e-commerce businesses.
The statistical Jan Modaal (the Belgian equivalent of John Smith) uses the web mainly via mobile devices, namely (data for March 2022):
In line with the trend of Western countries, Belgians use their smartphones to browse the Internet more and more often with every year. This in turn is also reflected in the use of social media, among which Facebook has a significant share in Belgium:
As for the operating systems used, their distribution also depends on the popularity of the “mobile” channel and is as follows (data for March 2022):
Belgians appreciate products and services that are “tailor-made”, i.e. adapted to their expectations, taking into account local culture, regulations and the language they use on a daily basis. The digital infrastructure in Belgium is growing and Brussels, the seat of the EU institutions, is called the capital of Europe. It is a market where online shopping is growing year on year, including thanks to the extensive logistics and transport infrastructure system. To sum up, the Kingdom of Belgium is one of the most developed economies in the world, where it is definitely worth being present!
of the population has access to the Internet
million Internet users
of users use Google
As in most countries, the most popular search engine in Belgium is Google, which is used by the vast majority of users:
Regarding browsers, more than half of Belgians also use the product from the Californian giant:
As you can see, Google once again has the lead, although Safari, popular on iPhones, and Windows Edge also have a noticeable share.
Belgium is the 24th largest e-commerce country in the world! In 2020, their revenues reached 7 billion US dollars, overtaking the likes of Saudi Arabia. Importantly, Belgium is “just getting started”. The point is that their e-commerce market, although already strong, is actually just now starting to develop. Previously, consumers used Dutch e-shops most often, and the government’s ban on working at night, which translated into delays in product deliveries, did not help either.
Belgians appreciate the convenience of online shopping. They can buy necessary products at attractive prices without leaving home. Among the most popular e-shops, there are still no domestic ones. The top 5 e-commerce companies in Belgium are based abroad:
Belgian companies such as Vente-Exclusive, Vanden Borre, ZEB and Schoenen Torfs are further down the list.
According to statistics, 6 out of 10 Belgians shop online. What are they looking for and what do they most often buy online? Let’s see:
What payment methods do Belgians use for e-commerce transactions? In half of the cases, they choose to use a card:
While mentioning the above ways of paying for online purchases, one should mention Bancontact, an instant debit card that only Belgian residents can have.
As far as providers are concerned, there are two postal providers – the most popular are Belgian BPost and the Dutch PostNL. They occupy the two extreme places on the podium, with the world-famous courier DHL in between.
This question in relation to the Belgian market is not so simple. Among the local domains we have “.be”, “.brussels” and “.vlaanderen”. The first of these is by far the most commonly used. It is used, for example, by service providers, restaurant owners and local businesses. In this case, the homepage is usually displayed in French first. Other language versions are also available, including Dutch, English and German. Websites with the extension “.brussels” are most often associated with Brussels and “.vlaanderen” with the Flemish region. It is up to us to decide which domain name we want to use when deciding where to operate. Those assigned to specific areas, strictly in these places, will be more credible and induce trust.
It is worth knowing that by choosing “.be” we do not even have to have a company registered in Belgium or a national trademark. Just remember that the domain name should be linguistically allowed and between 3 and 63 characters long.
If you have plans to enter several European markets, you could also consider a European domain like “.eu”, which for obvious reasons is also well known in Brussels. Alternatively, choose a global domain – “.com”. Other language versions should be placed in catalogues marked with a code of a given country, i.e. mypage.eu/be, mypage.eu/de, mypage.eu/fr, etc.
The Belgian e-commerce market in world rankings is just behind the Norwegian one, and as has already been mentioned, ahead of such countries as Saudi Arabia. Its revenues are growing year by year, and the growth dynamics are among the fastest among those observed around the globe. It is worth entering this market, especially as the Belgians are open and accustomed to foreign suppliers.
As far as the fraud rate among online consumers is concerned, in Belgium it is only 1%, one of the lowest in Europe. This has to do with the numerous systems in place to secure online transactions. Compared to Germans, Belgians are definitely more favourable to authorising online purchases using 3D Secure methods. The sellers themselves are associated in trusted shop groups such as BeCommerce and SafeShops.be.
The above also has an impact on the extremely low level of refunds (even for unsuccessful purchases). This level is 0.03%, and its low value should also be associated with the lack of possibility of chargeback when making payments via the popular Belgian Bancontact card.
Given that the Belgian e-commerce market is still developing, it is used to foreign suppliers, the Internet is widespread and the economy is growing, it would be a shame not to take advantage of such an opportunity. If you’re planning to locate your business outside of Poland, Belgium should be on the list of countries with a “must have” or “obligatory” note.
Full Customer Journey
Using SEO360®, we reach consumers at each stage of the purchasing process; analysing their activities with the use of CRO, we increase sales effectiveness.
Network of quality partners
We execute activities independently or with in-country partners who operate at the same high level as us.
Supervision of the entire process
Our Client Success Managers, who manage the end-to-end process, ensure the best results for our customers.
Guaranteed link maintenance
We do not remove acquired links even after the end of cooperation.
Constant access to reports updated 24/7.
Dedicated to E-commerce
It is effective for other industries as well, including the service sector and SMEs.
In Belgium, as in most countries where Google leads, high-quality link building is important. In this kingdom, you should also remember about local SEO. Belgians look around their city or even their neighbourhood when searching for products they are interested in. Of course, this is slightly different for individual regions that use French, Dutch or German to a greater or lesser extent. This is also reflected in the culture and customs of the community.
It is of course a good idea to diversify your links and place them, for example, on non-commercial Walloon or Flemish websites. This will give us credibility and our site will have a better chance of getting to the top of the search results faster, even for the most competitive keywords.
Quality blog posts are also an important addition, as well as activity and support coming from social media. Link building in Belgium is certainly a complex and challenging process. However, thanks to the knowledge and experience of our Takumi 匠, this highly attractive market is open to you!
It is the starting point for SEO360® actions, individually priced and created on the basis of the customer’s needs and expectations included earlier in the brief filled in by the customer. As part of our conceptual work, we establish the KPIs necessary for successful implementation of further stages of the project, in particular analysis, content marketing plan and estimations, which are the components of the strategy.
In this step, we carry out all the activities verifying the current state of the selected website in terms of SEO and its potential in a given country when compared to the competition. At the same time, we analyse the full user path based on the customer journey. The result of the analysis is a large amount of data that can be used to implement further SEO360® steps.
Content Marketing Plan
Individually prepared for the industry represented by the Client and for the given markets where SEO360® activities will be conducted. It includes a scenario concerning the type of created content and the way of its distribution in order to reach the consumers with it precisely and to be one step ahead of the competition. Content Creators guarantee the successful implementation of this plan.
An extremely valuable and final component of the strategy, where we estimate individual values related to the visibility of the website in the most popular search engine of a given country, taking into account the increase in traffic and, more importantly, the increase in conversions over a specified period of time.
When starting proper SEO activities, one of the necessary steps to achieve final success is technical SEO, also called technical analysis or technical optimisation for SEO, i.e. the part of optimisation that does not concern content. It consists of all activities that affect the architecture and code of a website in such a way as to make it as friendly as possible to the most stringent search engine requirements and, at the same time, to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Part of optimising a website for SEO, in addition to technical SEO, is content optimisation. Valuable content for the user is one of the key elements that will help to achieve high search engine visibility as well as increase conversions and thus revenue.
UX + CRO
As part of the SEO360® service, we provide analysis and optimisation of User Experience metrics with a particular focus on heuristic experiments and A/B testing as well as Conversion Rate Optimisation. In this way, we analyse consumer activity at each stage of their purchase process, increasing sales effectiveness.
We conduct link building using the highest quality permanent links acquired from external sources or services, from reliable publishers with a guarantee of their maintenance even after the end of cooperation. As part of this process, we take care of the correct link profile, which brings end benefits.
Ongoing Data Analysis
In SEO360®, through advanced tools supervised by the Client Success Manager, we constantly measure the progress related to the evaluation of conducted activities, and on their basis, our customers have access to extensive reports 24/7.
Increase in traffic and revenue
The ultimate value of SEO360® is the increase in brand awareness, traffic, conversions and revenue generated from the service, which is significantly higher than in the case of ‘regular SEO’ and above all, it is long-lasting.
You should certainly bear in mind the dominance of Google, and therefore all the requirements and algorithms of its search engine. If you want to increase organic traffic to your website, you should optimise it properly and also adapt your website to Belgian users. It means, for example, making the website available in 3–4 language versions. A local “.be” domain may also help. This, due to the importance of local positioning, should also be added value to your SEO activities. We should not forget about adjusting the website for smartphones, as the traffic from smartphones generates more and more revenue from online sales every year, and mobile itself is becoming the dominant channel of access to the client. If the above elements are complemented by social media and direct contact with users, we will obtain not only recognition but also trust for our brand.