Marketing using search engine optimization is all about getting more traffic from Google. A website owner targeting an international audience should ask an important question,
What specific Google domain am I trying to get found easier on?
Geo-Targeting and Google Search
Google forces people to use one of its Google country-specific domains for searches done in each country. But how does the geo-targeting of country specified results and search engine optimization work?
When you look at the Google results on Google.com.au as compared to say Google.co.in for the same search phrase, you will see differences.
First, there are not the same results for each search. Searches on Google.com.au Australian shows more Australian websites as compared to the same search on other countries’ Google searches.
It is easy to see that there is a bias in different Google country searches to each specific country.
How does the bias work??? And how can you work the geo-targeting bias in your favor??? How do you get to the top with one website for numerous different countries? How beating the bias of that countries own websites??? What is the most optimal technique of marketing your own website? Its time for Geo-Targeting of web sites.
How is a web site geo-targeted?
- If a web sites domain is country-specific (ie .co.nz, .com.au, .co.uk), then it is geo-targeted to only that country
- If a domain name is non-country-specific (ie .net, .com, .info), then by default it is geotargeted to the country that it is hosted in. A .com hosted in New Zealand is treated as a New Zealand website for geotargeting.
- Via Google webmaster tools, you are able to geographical target a non-country specific domain to any country ie geotarget a .com hosted in AU to NZ.
Geo-targeting a website to a number of different countries
Yes! Via Google webmaster tools, you are able to add not just the main domain.com, You can also add subdomains like domain.com/in/. You can then specifically geotarget that subdirectory to a particular country. All pages within that subdirectory are therefore geographical targeted to that same country
Therefore you can have one website that can compete on an even foot with the websites of each country. One domain is able to have the same country bias as each countries own domains.
How are searches geographically targeted
There is a country bias on Google.com searches based on the country of the IP address that you are searching via. For example, if you are using an ISP (internet service provider) of New Zealand, then based on the IP address that you are searching from, you will be given search results biased to that country.
If you are searching on Google.mg from a New Zealand IP address, then there is no ISP bias, just the country bias attached to that specific countries searches.
The problem with geo-targeting many domains
You have different options available. You can make a different web site for many different domains. That means domain.com, domain.com.au, domain.co.nz etc. Or have one domain.com that is targeted to numerous countries domain.com/au, domain.com/nz, domain.com/uk etc.
Many domains mean that each domain needs its own linking strategy. Also, each website needs different unique content so as to not have duplicate content issues. Each web site needs to be updated via its own cms each time updates are needed.
One domain means one website to maintain. And only one domain to get links for. Finally, duplicate content between pages is not as much an issue (although you need to be careful at the same time).
I much prefer having one website.
It’s hard work with only one country-specific domain
I have some country-specific domains (ie domain.co.nz) that are competitive on many different countries Google’s – ie the websites ranking high on each of Google.com from USA, Google.co.nz, Google.com.au etc.
However, in order to get high on each search, I have had to invest incredibly large amounts of effort into linking in order to beat the bias of each countries domains. I could have just created a separate .com domain and geotargeted it.
However, there had already been significant linking resources put into the .co.nz web site and got it ranking well. We did not want to wait the six+ months of the Google sandbox to get a new web site ranking well for such highly competitive phrases.
How to create a multi-country website
You need a homepage specific to each country, Also you need a variety of other pages that are for that particular country as well. Google likes domains better if they have more than one page. Each subdirectory is becoming a mini website, Therefore it needs more than one web site page in order to be treated as an authority “website” in its own right. I like to have a homepage, contact page, and about us page as the minimum number of pages for each country.
Once you are into a country page, you need to see the other pages specific for that country. I like using flags to identify each country.
Placing people in pages via Geotargeting by IP address
Geographic targeting by Internet Protocol number is a great help for placing people into their own specific part of a website. But given that Google is a USA spider, you also need to let Google see all the other countries’ pages. Don´t just restrict it to USA pages.
You can set a browser cookie based on Geo-Targeted country, or the first country-specific page that is entered. But then you must allow people to change their country and see the other pages as well, overriding that initial cookie setting.
Avoiding Duplicate content
Having multiple homepages, one for each country, and creating duplicates of other pages creates the duplicate content issue. With multi-country web sites, I work rather hard to create unique content for each page.
Particularly making sure that the words around the first instance of the search phrases are unique. But also making sure that the remainder of the pages is different in a number of ways. Spinning the content like you can spin articles is 1 way, but not a good one.
If you are creating 100’s of pages per country, and duplicating this out per country. Then you need intelligent formulas for each pages opening paragraphs. I insert the country name into opening paragraphs and have a number of versions of opening paragraphs that are randomly picked for the pages.
Welcome Canadian visitors to our pages showcasing Auckland Hotels
Welcome Spanish visitors to our Auckland Hotels page on Domain.com.
You can see the unique wording around the search phrase “Auckland Hotels” on each version, and the added uniqueness of adding mention of the country.
Its hard work
Yes, geo-targeting is hard work. But start creating specific web site pages for each country, and specifically geographical targeting for Google. But its definitely worth. Simply factor in the lower number of links required to rank each countries pages easily.