|Physical hosting and SEO|
Do we need to host in Japan?
This question was asked and answered way back in 2001, but someone (a competitor) flagged physical hosting location as a new hot issue in the SEO world in a meeting I was sitting in on for a client today.
We are building a site with a .jp domain, obviously targeting the Japanese market. Is there any advantage to hosting this site within Japan, or disadvantage in hosting the site elsewhere?
The rumour is that actual physical location of the server will be a MAJOR factor in regional-specific sites. True or false?
We had a direct comment on this from GoogleGuy a while back. To paraphrase, he said that either local hosting or a local domain name were sufficient for them to determine that a certain site was targeting a local market.
I haven't seen any clear evidence that physical hosting location plays a major role in this type of case.
I've had my USA hosted sites in the top 10 of Google/Japan for the past year plus.
I think the content and maybe encoding heading may be more important.
The only plus of hosting it in Japan that I see would be the possible gain in load time, since it may take less hops for the browser to get the content.
Thanks - that backs up what I think. However, this other lot were insistent that it was a "big change" that happened in "the last 5-6 weeks".
It doesn't make sense - there must be thousands upon thousands of sites hosted outside of Japan that would seriously affect the integrity of Google's search results if they were excluded or penalised.
I only know of 3 ways to tell Google the 'country' your website is most relavent to.
1. Have a TLD for the country i.e. .co.jp
2. Get your 'Japanese' site listed in dmoz in a Japanese regional category; (hey Woz - remember when we first heard that - and who told us!)
2. get the tld/ site hosted/ on a nameserver in Japan.
Otherwise - its not a Japanese site, is it?
Would that account for .com Japanese sites that are hosted offshore, without DMOZ listings being listed in Google? The .com extension is better known in Japan than .jp in many circles. Google does seem to get those as well.
Also, keep in mind that a .jp is still a lot more expensive than a .com, .net or .org registration. These domains are certainly used in Japan.
Then you have hosting costs...it's expensive in Japan. However, there are plenty of industrious Japanese resellers selling offshore hosting at a discount and undercutting the true local hosts. They offer control panels and everything in Japanese.
All this leads me to believe that this 'SEO checklist' isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure having a local TLD or IP will help, but they're not essential factors because there are so many sites that don't meet any of these criteria that still get listed and rank.
Hehe, yes I remember, something about, no, I won't spill the beans. ;)
Actually, this whole situation of determining regional focus of a sight has me shaking my head in a lot of cases. From your list of what the eingines are doing:-
>1. Have a TLD for the country i.e. .co.jp
Well, perhaps most of the time.
>2. Get your 'Japanese' site listed in dmoz in a Japanese regional category
OK, this one I agree with, well, most of the time, but it should be expanded to reflect all major directories. Perhaps also country specific directories.
>3. get the tld/ site hosted/ on a nameserver in Japan.
Well, this one I have a lot of issues with. For (hypothetical) example, I live in, say, Mexico, build a .com about, ummm, Guatamala, but the the best value hosting for my purposes is in, hmmm, India. So I should be list in which country version of the major SEs?
There needs to be a lot of work in determine regional focus of a site based on it's content. But for now, I guess we are stuck with the above.
>Otherwise - its not a Japanese site, is it?
|Would that account for .com Japanese sites that are hosted offshore, without DMOZ listings being listed in Google? |
Bill - do you mean that a .com site, with no DMOZ regional listing for Japan, hosted outside of Japan, appears for a search in Google.co.jp when you select the radio button 'pages from Japan'?
If so - humour me - and check the nameserver hosting as well as the website hosting. There are two aspects to hosting - the website itself, and the nameservers. You can have the site hosted in e.g. America - but the nameservers in e.g. Japan. That's exactly what I'd do if I was a Japanese hosting provider.......
Most of my experience is with english language sites - but potentially Google may also check character encoding. So maybe a kanjii site is automatically included as a 'Japanese site' - I don't know.
|Bill - do you mean that a .com site, with no DMOZ regional listing for Japan, hosted outside of Japan, appears for a search in Google.co.jp when you select the radio button 'pages from Japan'? |
Yes. But you have to remember that the radio button doesn't say "from Japan" it says "in Japanese". So, the option there is to limit your searches to pages in the Japanese language...I think it's similar for other versions of Google as well. Google isn't doing a local geographical search here...it's displaying pages that contain certain language encoding, in this case Japanese.
|You can have the site hosted in e.g. America - but the nameservers in e.g. Japan. |
Mainstream advice is to have at least two nameservers on different continents to provide redundancy. How would Google interpret that?
I have several well ranking web sites.
All hosted in the USA, all dot com's, and all non-Japanese nameservers.
The encoding set and <html lang=ja>
seem to be more than enough to let the SE's know who you are targeting.
|I think it's similar for other versions of Google as well. |
Actually, Bill, for non USA English language countries it isn't the same - its not 'language' - its 'country name'.
Google.com.au has "pages from Australia"
google.co.uk has "pages from the UK"
google.co.nz has "pages from New Zealand"
So for these English language countries, where character set, lang etc. is English, the 3 'tests' I mentioned in post #5 above generally apply to determine 'which' English language country is 'most' appropriate.
|Mainstream advice is to have at least two nameservers on different continents to provide redundancy |
Py9jamas, I indicated that Nameserver location is only part of one of the 'tests' - you can't look at nameserver location in isolation. i.e I believe its a mix of TLD; DMOZ regional category; and hosting (web and nameserver) location information.
I'd guess most hosting companies have their primary nameserver in 'their' country - it would be their 'backup' nameserver which could potentially be somewhere else. So its about the most common 'country match' between the info from these sources, and possibly, primary nameserver outranks secondary.
English SEO and Japanese SEO are a bit different. That's a given. As we can see the 'rules' for an English site don't necessarily all apply to a Japanese site...at least with this Google example.
The evidence I've seen shows that hosting in Japan is not really an issue so where the DNS is based hasn't been much of a factor. If it is a factor at all it's a minuscule portion of the algorithm only used to determine if the page belongs in the result set...it's not some magic SEO tactic that everyone has to follow in order to get high ranking. I doubt it has anything to do with ranking at all. Maybe in some other markets this is an issue, but not in Japan.
Having a site hosted in Japan and/or on a Japan centric TLD has no impact on rankings in Google Japan. Appearence in the "Japanese Languge" filtered option of Google is 100% controlled by the occurance of Japanese on the pages. The key is the definition of the filter -- the option is "Japanese Language Pages" not "Japan Pages".
I work on a few Fortune 100 sites and none of them are using .co.jp/.jp or are hosted in Japan and they all have hundreds of top lisitngs.
The key is to have good proper Japanese not in images, or ASCII codes or any of the other junk unskilled localizers are doing these days. The language detect and segmentation parsers of the engines are dead on when detecting language, especially Japanese. How well they are segmenting and dictionary matching, that is a whole other post.
As was already indicated, make sure you set your encoding on each page is set to <html lang=ja> -- many translator do not do this or they use "jp" instead of "ja".
Now, if you are talking about other coutnries, many of them have other issues --- I recently presented a paper in Greece on this topic and met with Google at SES San Jose to confirm the findings...
UK -- 2 user filters: Global database or UK Only -- when a user clicks the UK ONLY option the only "efficient" way for a search engine to filter is by 1) Top Level Domain of UK or 2) Local hosted domain with a UK centric IP designator.
Germany -- 3 user filters: Global database, German Language or Germany Only
Global - is the same database as the US but actually favors German content
German Language -- will only return pages that are in German language. This includes Austria, Germany and German Swiss pages. According to Nielson/Netratings presentaiton at SES London, 90% of Germans use this option since it is the default options.
Germany only -- Same as the UK, it restricts you to .de or a Germany hosted IP.
Hope this helps....
Exellent replies thanks. This reinforces what I was thinking about Japan, and the fact that the Google option is searching for "pages in Japanese". The whole idea is otherwise quite ridiculous.
For example, would Google then just ignore all the multi-lingual pages of a site hosted in New Zealand but is targeting China, Japan, Germany, Brazil etc? I think not.
What about tradtional Chinese and targeting Hong Kong and Taiwan separately but with the same content? Would that be a case for country-specific hosting/nameservers?
Taiwan and Hong Kong seem to have a somewhat similar setup to Germany's as globalseo pointed out. Searchers have the following options:
Even with these options I don't see where it would be absolutely necessary to have local hosting as long as you have the TLD for each area. Of course you would have to make sure that your pages used the proper encoding for Traditional Chinese.
- All sites
- All Chinese sites
- Traditional Chinese sites
- Taiwan / Hong Kong sites
have followed this thread with interest. we have multiple sites in double byte character languages and unicode that perfrom well (top 5 results) on google and yahoo local versions, and none of them are hosted in far east asia nor do they have local TLDs. Aside from the fact that many TLDs are still very restrictive, (u can get a .jp easily enough, but a .co.jp is another story) as many posters have mentioned local companies often host their sites offshore due to cost (e.g. Japan) or fear of government restrictions (e.g. China).
i think that aside from good standard SEO practice, pple should pay attention to effective and efficient translations of content (marketing copy writing), have translators aware of at least the principles of segmentation (particularly in languages like Chinese and Thai) and avoiding those issues raised by globalseo (i.e. junk translation).