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Change in the Way Google Serves Results on .co.uk
Seeing a weighting to UK sites on "all web" searches.

 2:06 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else - surprised not - but has anyone else noticed searches on .co.uk "the web" searches are now giving different results to a straight search on .com

This has only been happening since this weekend - USA sites are dropped down the rankings and UK sites are bumped to the top.



 3:13 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

only a few days ago i was finding my .com site getting betwen 1st and 3rd places for google, msn and yahoo in the usa market for my keywords. My market is the uk so i switch from .com to .co.uk. hopefully i will be first for the UK market soon. I had to change my listings in dmoz and yahoo directory.

Just Guessing

 3:15 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not too convinced by the backlinks theory. It could account for why some sites get the boost, but I am also seing UK sites that don't get any boost which appear to have a good set of UK backlinks. I also see sites getting a boost that look as though they have only a few UK backlinks.

It's really strange how many UK sites stay with exactly the same relative ranking against "international" sites, while some get a really big boost up the SERPS.


 3:49 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Quoting Wizard...

'This is really stupid: we have "Pages from UK" option for geographic searching.'

And not many people use it even though quite often it would be beneficial to them. Your argument is on similar lines to someone, 10 years ago saying "Why create better search engines when you can get good results using a string of advanced expressions". Not many people understand how the pages in the UK works and more importantly, they don't understand how it is beneficial to them, so they don't use it.

'The idea of internet is to be more independent from location, isn't it?'

Well, the idea of the Internet is for people to share data quickly. It's always been the case that people should try and put their servers as possible to their target audience (both geographically and in terms on network topology)

'If I have a multilanguage site, running on one DB and one scripts engine, why should I buy separate hostings in different countries?'

Primarily so your users get faster access speeds and a better browsing experience. Secondly so they can find your site on Google.

Google's primary concern is the users of their search engine, not the webmasters. As long as the users can find the sites that they want, that's pretty much all that matters. It's the users that generate their revenue, not the webmasters. If by localising the search results, the users get more rlevent results, then it doesn't really matter to Google that some webmasters are going to have to pay more if they are running multi-national web sites.

This is a good change in my opinion. Google has a history of changing the way the web works. If this move makes hosts start considering their users locating their sites in a place that benefits the users (rather than trying to save money on bargain hosting) then it can only make the web faster for the average user.


 4:14 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

As with all things search engine related there is never just one answer, that would make it too easy to manipulate. Just to clear it up when I suggested the UK backlink theory I meant UK domains and UK hosted domains.

Other things however that could contribute or even explain the results might be:

1. Analysis of page/domain for UK related terms - places, UK spellings, contact details.

2. Click analysis - number of google.co.uk users clicking on a particular search result or how long before they return to search from a particular site.

Only a theory, would like to hear any others

Just Guessing

 4:15 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

If this move makes hosts start considering their users locating their sites in a place that benefits the users

It won't, because it's not the location of the site (or its IP address) that Google is looking at.

We need to figure out what this change is, before we can comment on whether it's good or bad.


 4:56 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing it on google.dk as well. In fact g is getting better at throwing up danish pages on the standard "the web" searches. This is good a JoeAverage on the street never use the other radio buttons (pages in danish etc.)


 5:43 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just Guessing is correct - they are not just using IP of site to decide whether it is UK specific - hence given a boost or a boot for that matter!

This change has boot'ed some UK targeted, UK hosted sites!

They still rank on google.com, but don't now on .co.uk regardless of whether a "web" or "uk" search has been done.

Hopefully GoogleGuy will chip in with an official view on the changes.

Not too sure either about the backlinks theory?


 6:17 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've been noticing something that fits this mould too..
I'm 3rd in the world for a search on kw1 kw2, but on UK only sites I'm seventh.
It defies logic!


 7:04 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Does this mean I should set up a mirror for Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa since I have a good percentage of my sales come from them? It seems like this is what Google is encouraging. . .

I am not going to do anything. Sales have been on the increase since Thanksgiving. If it becomes a problem I will deal with it then.


 7:38 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

The biggest change i see is there now seems to be a redirect by IP.
I go to www.google.com and when i seach, the results are from www.google.co.uk.
I can then change the string in the address bar, and get www.google.com results.
Otherwise The results in my sector have not changed massively.


 8:07 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

> If it becomes a problem I will deal with it then.

Isn't that what Saddam Hussain said when George Bush was on the horizon ;-)


 8:15 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

We have very recently noticed a pick-up across a range of terms and across a range of SERPs. When was this first noticed? What date? We first noticed some changes on Monday 21st.



 9:27 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

It won't, because it's not the location of the site (or its IP address) that Google is looking at.

This is a very bold "matter of fact" statement! What proof do you have of this?

We have been discussing geotargeting for a while now in other threads between several very experienced SEOers from various countries about our different experiences with IP location and domain names etc and, if you had been reading them, successfully assisted quite a few people who had been unaware of how we "believe" Google presents its results.

If you know of something that contradicts our current knowledge base we would love to read it.


 9:28 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

"And not many people use it"

Because they don't want to. Most queries couldn't care less where something is hosted. Adding some weight is reasonable enough, but it seems they are screweing it up now. The big danger though is to have bad results like the MSN disaster. People searching for Clay Aiken don't give a hoot where a site's servers are located.

Just Guessing

 9:59 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

It won't, because it's not the location of the site (or its IP address) that Google is looking at.

This is a very bold "matter of fact" statement! What proof do you have of this?

The location of the site may be one of the factors that Google looks at, but I have examples of a .com site with a non-UK IP address being boosted and also a .com site with a UK IP address not being boosted. I have a specific example of a search where a .com site with a German IP address is boosted to #2 & #3 in the google.co.uk SERPS from around #35 in the google.com results. There are another 3 sites boosted to the top 5 rankings including one .com with a UK IP address and two .uk sites. The rest of the top 100 google.co.uk results remain identical to the google.com SERPS. This includes one .com site with a UK IP address which receives no boost to its ranking on google.co.uk.

This all refers to the "all the web" search on google.co.uk, not the "UK pages only" search. On a "UK pages" search the .com with the German IP address is filtered out and the .com with the UK IP address is included. The criteria for inclusion in the "UK pages" search is either a .uk domain or a UK IP address.


 10:03 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I didn't think this issue affected me much, but actually, I have a case which trancends three google sites.

I have a few pages on one of my sites about a Danish football club.

My site uses a generic TLD but it is hosted in the UK.

On google.co.uk, the site is in the first few results
On google.com it is listed on the second page
On google.dk it isn't listed anywhere in the first 6 pages

All searches were done on "all the web" rather than the localised versions.

The site is in English although the name of the club is written with the danish spelling rather than the English spelling (the club has the Danish letter in its name).

From my site logs, I know that the pages in question are mostly visited by Danish people and most of those vistors come from google. So based on the evidence that I have, it suggests that the localisation algorithm isn't giving a lot of credence to clicks on google's result (if any).

If Google are basing it on linking strategies then that would make sense.

Most of the inbound links I have are from English language sites. The reason for this is that my Danish isn't very good so it's hard for me to judge the quality of Danish language sites, so I don't tend to link to them (and therefore don't ask for a link back in return).

If the localisation is based on linking then it will create some weird web connections. Scandinavian language sites will all link to each other quuite easily because they all understand each others languages equally well.

However, in the case of Denmark -> UK linking, it's different as the Danes generally have a much better understanding of English than the people in the UK have of Danish.

It does suprise me that Google seem to have implemented this globally at exactly the same time. I would have thought that in order to do it properly, the algorithm would need to be specially tweaked in each country (by the people who are used the culture of the country in question).

It doesn't suprise me though, it isn't be the first time that the Americans have meddled with other countries affairs without any care or consideration for local culture ;-)


 10:05 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm a firm believer that if you build your websites in .de then that is where you should be listed google.de

Germany- google.de

I dont want the .com/net/org web to be cluttered with german sites or Irish or French UNLESS that is what I am looking for ..then I'll search .de , or .IE or .FR etc.. either on my own or through Googles ccTLD options.

I dont want to order a CD and then get to the checkout and realize it needs to be shipped 4,000 Miles from some local French Music wholesaler..

That is what it is all about.. Customer service

Google is a US Company that operates on a Global enviroment through it's ccTLDS ..just as it should

Yes...com in many ways IS the defacto ccTLD for the US .. That is just the way it is ..

It dosent exclude anyone..anyone can buy .com/net/.org etc and US hosting if they want ranking in the.com index

and websites ranking should be weighted towards the ccTLD in ccTLD Indexes.. If I am searching for widgets in google.de then I expect to find widgetsites.de ranking high .. dont care if .com is also included but preference should be give to the local address .de because that's WHY I searched .DE

Does that mean that the top tranking websites with .de will actually be Germany companies? absolutely not it should reflect businesses that actually do business in Germany ..


 10:24 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

We're always looking at ways to make our search more relevant worldwide. Definitely feel free to email Google if you've got suggestions about what's good or bad about any change.


 10:26 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can you explain how it is supposed to work?

Then we can see if that is what it actually does...


Can you confirm it works the same worldwide, that it has been implemented in all languages?

Just Guessing

 10:28 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey GG, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what this change is, before I can suggest whether it's good or bad!

It is not just looking at the ccTLD and the IP address - it must also be looking at content and/or links. But it is also failing to identify sites that have the right content and links and that it already knows belong to the right country!


 10:49 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

"because that's WHY I searched .DE"

I can't understand that logic. I don't search Google .de to find sites with the tld! I search for German language sites, and I could not care less if it is .com or .de; but I sure would not like to find a .de site serving up English when I'm searching for German.

TLD should never matter unless a searcher wants it that way. It's beyond arbitrary as a ranking determiner. .com, .co.uk, .info... who cares? I want the best quality results that are an accurate reply to my query.

<added... but again, personally I can see adding some very small weight for tld, just like keyword in domain name>

[edited by: steveb at 10:51 pm (utc) on Feb. 24, 2005]

Just Guessing

 10:49 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually is there any need to keep us guessing on this one? It's not about spamming - it's just about folks with websites targeted at specific locations understanding the correct thing to do.


 11:06 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

It does suprise me that Google seem to have implemented this globally at exactly the same time. I would have thought that in order to do it properly, the algorithm would need to be specially tweaked in each country

Who's to say it hasn't already.

If I were Google and I wanted to better target the web results for a specific country the way I might do it would be to give each domain, not page, a ranking that relates to where I think that site is based.

Example: you may decide, based on linking structure, language, click patterns, etc, etc, that a particular site has a 60% chance it's from the UK, 30% chance it's from the US or 10% chance it's from maybe Australia.

You could then apply these values to the search results from those countries, the higher the value the bigger the boost. This could explain why one site could leapfrog over another even though they are both from the same country.

Just another idea, feel free to rip it apart.


 11:20 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

steveb TLD should always matter imo , that is why each country is delegated a ccTLD .. so that it CAN matter.

yes, we can certainly have a web search engine that is all inclusive all extensions all lumped together ..hey for fun lets even make very website in english ..

No one from ANY country wants to pay shipping costs half way around the world.. If I WANT a product from Ireland then I'll search Google.Ie and I'll do my search ; most webmasters understand that to market in Ireland or want to at least show that they serve Ireland will have a .IE address . Now if a company has a .com address (that also is ranking in .IE serps) that is fine also as long as the Company also carries the Irish product/service that I want .

The point is I have confidence that Google sperates countries by ccTLD for a reason..so people can find product/service by country if that is what they choose and seach country has it's own Identity .

I'm confident that when search google.ie I am not going to get Italian websites or French websites etc..

and I expect the same in .com only because at this stage of the naming addreses .com IS the default US address

Now if lightening strikes and all American companies start using .US ...then by all means open the .com into some great melting pot and let everyone sort it out on their own.

Search is about the users experiance ..helping the searcher find what it is they are searching for in the most organized efficient way possible..

it isnt about throwing the world into a big old pot and saying good luck (because us webmasters dont want to have to learn how to target markets..we just want a size fits all ranking solution globally )


 11:29 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sites in a specific language isn't the issue. In most coutries, you can search for sites in your own language and that works fairly well AFAIK (Unfortunately there's no "only sites in real English" option on google.co.uk)

What we're discussing is the new weighting for all results.

From what I've seen (and bear in mind it's only a small sample size), the new weighting in the localised world SERPS doesn't seem to be helping relavancy.

I'll use a real world example. I hope nobody minds, there don't appear to be any commercial sites listed so I don't think it does any harm.

Try searching the www.google.dk site for Peter Schmeichel, a famous Danish football (soccer) goalkeeper who has spent a lot of time playing in England.

Compared to the .com and .co.uk searches, there are a couple of sites with .dk domains that have been given elevated positions. Neither of these are particularly informative and the highest listed of the two only deals with his career in England!

If I were Danish, I'd be more likely to be interested in his career at Danish clubs and at International level than for his English league career. However most of the results seem to focus solely on his English career.


 11:36 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

"it isnt about throwing the world into a big old pot and saying good luck"

Of course it is, except that language of the searcher matters. I want the best quality results for my query, in whatever language I am searching. I want the worldwide web. If I only want local stuff, I'll use a local engine, or a local limiter. What products have to do with this I don't know. Very few searches are for products so the tail shouldn't wag the dog that's for sure, but if I do want to order something I can easily chose some provider close to me, regardless of something so trivial as a tld.

Perhaps Google has added a small bit of weighting that will be refined over time. That seems sound, but I certainly don't want them favoring or disfavoring .com or .org or .it or anything else in the searches because I care about content on a page, not letters in the address bar.


 11:43 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also want the best results for my search query ..keep all Countries specific websites seperated by ccTLD ..

I want a logical format ...not a stew


 12:02 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

The ccTLD says nothing about the language the page is in, nor where it is actually hosted. All it says is in which country the domain name was registered and issued. The cTLD has no relationship with the content on the site nor the hosting location whatsoever.

The ccTLD allows each country to issue domain names without having to refer to what other countries may be doing, and without risk of two different people being issued the same one. That is all it is for.


 12:12 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)


ccTLDs DO reflect the county of origin , the language the culture etc.. MOST ccTLDS are in fact used as they are desgined for Country specif Identity ..

No it does not mean every cctld is used that way ..but YES it MOST are and thats why Google runs



Listen ..any webmasterthat is upset becaise his .com isnt ranking well in .de or.fr or what ever and using the the arguement that their contnt is btteror more reflective of the actuall search ..then the solution is EASY ..

Buy that cctld and you will rank better because the alogo does give a weight balance towards whatever ccTLD Index you are targtting(all other variable considered) ..just as the algo should do

But no ..I guess it's just in outr nature .. it's easier to complain about the way something is instead of adapting to it


 12:21 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> ccTLDs DO reflect the county of origin , the language the culture etc <<

No; they reflect the country registering the domain. They say nothing about the content of the site, nor where it may be hosted.

It might happen that many .de sites are hosted in Germany, and contain German language content, but many other .de sites will contain other languages and be hosted outside of Germany.

Additionally there will be many sites hosted in Germany with content in many different languages and many TLDs other than .de

There will also be many sites in the German language using TLDs other than .de and hosted outside of Germany.

You can't make a one-rule-fits-all here; not even close.


 3:01 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

oooh! A flame war! Can I join in? :-)

No; they reflect the country registering the domain. They say nothing about the content of the site, nor where it may be hosted.

It might happen that many .de sites are hosted in Germany, and contain German language content, but many other .de sites will contain other languages and be hosted outside of Germany.

What about .fr domains which by law have to have the homepage in the french language?

Also there are many cases where country level TLDs are only granted to companies with an office in that country.

All pedantry aside...

The principle behind what dauction is saying is correct. There is a correlation between country level domains and the target audience of the sites that have them.

That may not have been what they were intended for but that's the way it is currently. The web is full of examples where the current usage is quite different from the original intent; I take it you're the kind of person that only ever uses the HTML TABLE tag for tabulating data, and nothing else?

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