We are located in Switzerland, german speaking part.
When doing a general search (using "The Web" Button), I get more and more German, Austrian and Swiss websites on the top SERP, even when looking for a ENGLISH term, for example women.
As this was not the case in the past, I trust the algo meanwhile compares the geographic location of the surfer's ISP** and tries to match it with the geographic location of the sites on their index. I did not investigate any further if this geo-targeting is based on the listed site's IP, TLD or even whois record. So let's call this "a sites geographic profile" (...as interpreted by Google).
If this finding can be confirmed by others, this will cause a major headache for all of us who want to have top ranks to reach an audience not limited or influenced by our site's geographic profile. For those fishing for local traffic, this is a field day.
In other words, when in the past you ranked for your keywords in the top 5 (when using "the web" button), this won't be the case anymore.
The SERPS are now being extremely influenced by the user's geo-profile. Which is in most cases different from yours.
Please try to reproduce this:
To have it language neutral, google (use "the web" button) for "ferrari".
Here i have in the top 10:
7 sites in german
1 site in italian
2 in english
If you have another mix of results, my theory seems to be valid. Google started to not only geo-target the ads it serves, but also the SERP itself.
I hope that my finding can not be reproduced by others. If you can reproduce it, take a deep breath and consider the implications this will increasingly have for your SEO efforts. Take another breath and consider the implication this will have for google itself. Me as Joe Surfer am frustrated with geo-targeted SERPS because in many cases it makes it more difficult for me to find the proper information, because the results are polluted with sites ranking high only because of their geo-profile. If i want geo-targeted results, i use the "my country" or "my language" buttons.
I can imagine that this observation is also an explanation for many other positively or negatively effects discussed in many other threads.
Any feedback on this is highly appreciated.
**or even worse, his/her geo-profile as determined by Googlebar/gMail settings or cookies or what ever
[edited by: engine at 5:01 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2006]