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




msg:719007
 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.

 

mrMister




msg:719067
 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?

vitaplease




msg:719068
 5:41 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)


As long as the global village of the World Wide Web does not default to too many "village" results seems to be fine..

I could be mistaken, but I think this has been around since at least nov. 2004 on other google.tld's (.nl and .be for example). At least that is what my stats say.

edd1




msg:719069
 9:34 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Something strange is definitely happening. My site has been on the front page for its main phrase for several years and suddenly it's nowhere to be found. A subpage appears on page 10. There are 30000 less results from that phrase. On other google centres it's still there on the main page. Its a UK site registered in the UK. Good content throughout and no obvious reason to vanish?

Just Guessing




msg:719070
 9:59 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

From the searchers point of view, by and large Google seem to have implemented this quite well. (All my analysis is based on google.co.uk vs google.com) There are many searches where the country is irrelevant and where there is no difference in the two SERPS (people's names, technical queries, etc). There are searches where the topic is fairly UK specific and the SERPS already contain many UK sites - these SERPS remain the same and retain the smattering of non-UK sites. There are searches where there are only a few UK sites in the SERPS, and these seem to be the searches where the UK sites get boosted to the top.

From the site owners point of view, this is a bit of a nightmare.

We are a UK company selling to the UK and Ireland, and also a little elsewhere as well. We have a .com site, physically hosted in our own offices in the UK, and with a UK IP address. Do we now need a second .ie site (with duplicate content?!?) in order to rank well in Ireland? Should we rank well in Ireland? (I like to think we are as relevant as anyone else because we are already a market leader there in our small vertical market area.)

Worse still, Google seem to be getting it wrong in the google.co.uk results. We rank worse in google.co.uk than in google.com results, despite having a UK IP address, content that clearly identifies us as a UK company (title, page content, contact details etc), and plenty of UK backlinks.

With the default being for google.com to redirect to google.co.uk for UK users, this is going to become more of a problem. Not many users spot the link that takes them back to google.com, and even fewer will know that they will find anything different there.

I always thought the "UK pages only" option was a good solution for those looking for UK information. Judging from our web stats, quite a lot of people use it already, and even more will find it with the redirect to google.co.uk.

For companies actively selling throughout the European Union, this is horrendous. Is "country" the right thing to be looking at when customs and trade barriers are down and a common currency is in use?

zgb999




msg:719071
 11:32 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

"I also want the best results for my search query"

From a searchers point of view: If you are in Germany using google.de and you are looking for Amazon or IBM you will get the German sites of those companies on top which makes sense. If you are doing the same on google.com you get the international sites which makes sense.

Now lets look at some things Google might be looking at:
- language (change the language settings in you Google preferences and you will find that Google is using this setting for changing SEPRs)
- tld and IP adress (Google is known to trust those for the search in a country option)
- links from sites within that country?
- others?

Just Guessing




msg:719072
 12:06 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Weirder and weirder:

Changing my Interface language from English to Swahili brings up English pages in a different order.

Changing my Search language from English to anything else makes no difference - and hasn't saved successfully when I return to preferences.

Now I have a problem - having changed my Interface language to Swahili, does anyone know the Swahili for English so I can change it back again?

Just Guessing




msg:719073
 1:10 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK - made it back to Elmer Fudd for my Interface language - fink I'll stick wif dat fow my pwefewences.

I thought about using Klingon, but then discovered the translation is only 94% complete - see https://services.google.com/tcbin/tc.py?cmd=status

Did you know Google are looking for volunteers to help "translate Google into your language" here: https://services.google.com/tc/Welcome.html

They definitely need some help translating into English(UK) - that project is only 9% complete. Explains a lot!

mrMister




msg:719074
 1:47 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

translating into English(UK) - that project is only 9% complete.

Blimey! They're translating Google in to real Englsh. That is spiffing news. That's really put the colour back in my cheeks.

OptiRex




msg:719075
 2:00 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think that dauction is forgetting very recent Internet domain naming history in that .com/net/org became the de facto web addresses since they were so much cheaper to purchase than one's own country domains.

Easy to register, easy to purchase, cheap and quick.

It was only when specific TLD registrars saw the effect the .com TLD was having on the rest of the market were they forced to reduce their prices.

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..

Huh? Am I missing something here?

A recognised and branded product that you could buy delivered for less however on xenophobic or distance grounds you refuse to purchase it?

I must include that in my next marketing seminar questionaire:

"dauction only wants to buy from his corner shop via the Internet, how do you persuade him otherwise?"

tomtomclub




msg:719076
 6:15 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

A recognised and branded product that you could buy delivered for less however on xenophobic or distance grounds you refuse to purchase it?

maybe on 'eco' grounds... I'd avoid something flying 4000 miles and buy local wherever possible, especially for something as inconsequential as a CD or book which is easily obtainable locally (even if a few cents more expensive and as I'm in the UK it's more than a few cents most of the time!). Why contribute to air pollution unnecessarily? OK now shoot me down for being a treehugger ;-)

This is where being served local sites for shopping searches makes some sense but local sites for 'info' searches are often irrelevant unless the search is culturally specific.

dauction




msg:719077
 7:26 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

optirex.. absolutely I will not order something from 4000 miles away that I could get from a "local" US presence and neither will most of America's 200 million internet users

Besides the obvious shipping costs , I get to wait 2 weeks to 2months, and customer service long distance call fees ... If it's broken are you going to pay to have it shipped back?

And when you refuse I suspect I'd have to file a legal claim in your country!

Local for Americans means someplace in the 50 US States ..like Local to someone in France might mean shipping to his neighbors in Britain or any of the other 45 European members

When someone in Britain for example goes through a website product check out and sees the Company is in France it's not such a big deal..especially now that you all are also on the same currency ..

But to Americans it is a big deal... we certainly will buy products and services overseas but will 9/10 times buy local (one of 50 US states) before we hassle with buying overseas(because of the reasons I stated earlier) .. and that's why we dont want to see the main serp flooded with overseas countries..

all it does is make for a poor product/services search experiance for the 200 MILLION US Internet users..

The PROBLEM is all product.services webmaster no matter their Country of orgin think that some how they deserve to not only rank well under their delegated ccTLD serps (google.de) but also in the main indea which is the default Americanized serps that are the main index for 200 Million American internet users

Unless Google opens up Google.us and starts promoting it the main index will remain the American index IMO

Now I am still talking about mainly for products and services ..I really have no problem with the main index being filled with info sites from around the world..

maybe that the seperation that the search engines could look at .Products and services under ccTLD .. information/knowledge sites under main index..just a thought

PCInk




msg:719078
 7:49 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

When someone in Britain for example goes through a website product check out and sees the Company is in France it's not such a big deal..especially now that you all are also on the same currency ..

Britain and France? Same currency? We have different currencies. There are still quite a number of different currencies in Europe.

HarryM




msg:719079
 8:14 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

dauction,

Don't underestimate the difficulties Brits have with buying from other European countries. First, there's a language barrier. Second, the UK is not using the same currency as France (as you assume). Third, shipment times can be lengthy. Fourth, the Germans and French often don't accept credit card payments, or even PayPal. Just take a look at French or German eBay offers.

I frequently buy books from France, but always use major retailers who are used to international shipping. Even so, I shudder at the thought of something going wrong. Composing an email with my schoolboy French and the help of a dictionary is no fun.

I think the problem with Google arises because people in the US expect google.com to be a US search facility, whereas the rest of the world sees it as an international facility. It's just a historical anomaly that is now beginning to cause problems.

I have a .com site hosted in the UK and my traffic has been hit by what Google is doing. A year ago the highest number of viewers came from the US West Coast, with the US East Coast, Western Europe, and the UK, level-pegging in second place. I also have pages in Chinese on the site, and traffic from the Far East was about 15-20%.

Now the UK provides the majority traffic and all others are well down. It seems the only way I could get the traffic back is to relocate the Chinese pages to a new site in the Far East, and create a mirror site for the remainder in the US. This really shouldn't be necessary as it's purely an information site.

I like your idea of Google promoting google.us.

OptiRex




msg:719080
 10:38 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

absolutely I will not order something from 4000 miles away that I could get from a "local" US presence and neither will most of America's 200 million internet users

Wow, that's a sweeping statement! Every day I have Americans buying direct from us since our prices are more competitive than they can source in the US and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does this.

Have you ever checked the country of origin of most of the manufactured and processed goods in your "local" shop?

Now just tell me that it is not American industry and thereby people who are forcing prices down all over the world. The USA's economy, in general, relies on screwing most manufacturers/suppliers down to the last cent and many a time without any consideration for quality.

I know since I trade in one of the largest industries in the world and I refuse to bow down to such pathetic demands and I have seen the garbage which these so-called companies end up purchasing.

The reason you have such an enormous trade deficit is because you import more than you export. Your economy relies on manufactured imports since you cannot afford to produce them in the USA.

Your understanding of international business is severely lacking so I'll not comment any further about the other points except:

Unless Google opens up Google.us and starts promoting it the main index will remain the American index IMO

By this I assume you mean that every web site which is hosted in the USA and every web site which has a .com/net/org/biz/info/us domain will be the only ones displayed on Google.us?

Surely I do not have to explain the results you would get?

Spine




msg:719081
 3:54 pm on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Could Whois info be part of how they are doing this? I noticed last night that on a competitive phrase, I'm on page 1 in the .ca results, and about page 7 on .com

My site doesn't mention Canada anywhere, and the domain is a .com, my server is in the US, but my Whois info is Canadian.

mrMister




msg:719082
 7:54 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Could Whois info be part of how they are doing this? I noticed last night that on a competitive phrase, I'm on page 1 in the .ca results, and about page 7 on .com

Oooh, you might have something there. Google registered as a domain registrar so they would have full access to WHOIS information. Maybe this is part of that.

Has anyone got a website that is hosted abroad but where the domain is registered in your own country?

If so, how are you doing in the local SERPS? Maybe google is doing this by domain WHOIS rather than IP WHOIS.

Spine




msg:719083
 8:22 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the .ca results I can see that I'm right up there on page 1, or high on page 2. On .com .de .it etc I'm down on page 7.

I have nothing Canadian about my site other than the whois. I'm not listed in local directories, I don't have an address or phone number on the site, and I have more incoming links from .com and .co.uk than anything else, so whois is the only reason I could see myself being boosted on .ca.

A number of other sites that are Canadian are also doing better on the .ca version, but they do have addresses and other 'giveaways'.

UK_Web_Guy




msg:719084
 9:23 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting angle Spine - but the examples i'm seeing have uk whois info - are hosted in the UK - but get booted on .co.uk SERPS.

Anyone else got thoughts on how they are determining things - PLEASE let's use this thread for trying to fathom how Google are determining these new regional searches - regardless of the rights or wrongs of it.

Come on guys,girls - let's keep throwing some ideas around

Just Guessing




msg:719085
 1:02 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have seen the following types of site bumped up google.co.uk SERPS (in some cases right to the top):

1) .uk domain, some UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois
2) .com domain, UK IP address, some UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois
3) .com domain, German IP address, some UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois
4) .com domain, US IP address, some UK content, some UK backlinks, US whois

As well as US & international sites, I have seen the following type of site pushed down the google.co.uk SERPS:

1) .com domain, UK IP address, some UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois
2) .net domain, UK IP address, a little UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois

On one search I have been watching, over the weekend Google has successfully recognised one additional UK .com site that didn't benefit last week. Others still suffer.

Another interesting thing is that for some searches the relative position of UK sites to each other in the SERPS is now different on each of google.co.uk "all web" SERPS, google.co.uk "UK pages" SERPS, and google.com SERPS.

OptiRex




msg:719086
 2:03 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just Guessing

Which sectors are you monitoring since I do not see any discernible changes at all? I'm not saying there are not any, just not in my sector.

FYI my domains have not moved anywhere, i.e. still at #1 and the same top ten still applies. Mine are all as follows:

1. .com, .co.uk, .biz, .info

2. UK IP addresses, some UK content, some UK backlinks, UK whois

3. All international widget sites, widget directory and widget informational

The above may or may not help, I'm just trying to give you some relevant input from well-established sites which are ranked #1 in .co.uk and .com.

Just Guessing




msg:719087
 2:52 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

The searches i am looking at are to do with business processes, but even with very similar searches, some show no differences at all, and others show significant changes.

nileshkurhade




msg:719088
 3:14 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have seen a marked increase in the number of referrals from G .co.uk. The sites are hosted in US but UK english. for eg. optimised not optimized. Is Google using language to distinguish?

tomtomclub




msg:719089
 4:30 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Our very niche index (76,000 results worldwide 33,500 UK) has changed significantly again this afternoon.

1. Sites which have a dmoz/google dir entry are now showing this description rather than organic snippets from the page and the top 10 have changed again.

2. A g.com search shows different results from g.co.uk 'the web' and g.co.uk 'pages from the UK' which were until about an hour ago different from each other but are now the same.

3. The index has reduced by around 1000 results on both indexes too.

More 'google shenanigans' afoot methinks?

Anyone else seeing changes this afternoon?

OptiRex




msg:719090
 4:49 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone else seeing changes this afternoon?

If you want to see which seem to be even more up-to-date results try Amazon's A9.

I have new pages there which do not show in the G SERPs and the cache dates are more recent!

A9 the new Google?

mrMister




msg:719091
 2:13 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have seen a marked increase in the number of referrals from G .co.uk. The sites are hosted in US but UK english. for eg. optimised not optimized. Is Google using language to distinguish?

This is a seperate issue. By default, users visiting www.google.com with a UK IP address are being redirected to www.google.co.uk

This means that there is a massive increase in people using google.co.uk, as a result you can expect more traffic from google.co.uk regardless of where your site is ranked.

HarryM




msg:719092
 10:51 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

users visiting www.google.com with a UK IP address are being redirected to www.google.co.uk

I have seen this mentioned several times, but can't see it myself. How can you tell? Am I missing something?

mrMister




msg:719093
 11:11 am on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

users visiting www.google.com with a UK IP address are being redirected to www.google.co.uk

I have seen this mentioned several times, but can't see it myself. How can you tell? Am I missing something?

I have experienced this myself (on three different IP address ranges).

If it's not happening for you then maybe your IP address isn't registered in the UK. I'd guess that there is a possibility that America Online in the and maybe some other large ISPs are using US registered IP addresses for their UK customers.

Which ISP are you using?

Just Guessing




msg:719094
 1:50 pm on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

The country redirect from google.com to google.co.uk is also controlled by a cookie. There is a No Country Redirect setting (CR=2, I think) which permanently switches off the redirect.

Delete your google.com cookie, and you should then get redirected (on a UK IP address).

Using the "Go to Google.com" link on google.co.uk also sets No Country Redirect in the google.com cookie (by taking you to [google.com...] ).

I thought using the "Go to Google UK" link on google.com switched the redirect back on, but I think I was wrong about this - No Country Redirect remains in force.

HarryM




msg:719095
 2:02 pm on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

My ISP is Freeserve.co.uk, so it seems Just Guessing's explanation fits my case best.

webmktg




msg:719096
 6:06 am on Mar 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Let me share my experience with you all.

I have a site giving information about a Airport in USA. When I search for the Airport Name in Google.com my site is not within the first two pages.

But when I go to Google.co.uk and search for the Airport Name by selecting pages from UK option my site is number 3.

My site is hosted in New York, USA and domain is registered to a UK address.

My question is why google prfers my site when I seach google.co.uk, selecting the pages from UK option?

Is it because my domain is registered in the UK?

Spine




msg:719097
 8:38 am on Mar 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

That would fit in with what I was saying about my site doing a bit better on google.ca for some words.

The hosting is US, but the domain whois info is Canadian.

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