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Superior site (links, age, content) and ridiculous ranking

 2:29 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

The site is in a pretty small and low competition niche and currently ranks around position 27 in yahoo and 550 in google.com (its #1 in google.ie) for its target keyword.

Our site has excellent quality and quantity inbound links from international sites (1xPR7, 4xPR6, to name a few and also yahoo directory listings and business organizations in the target niche) as well as good internal link structure. More and better links than the top SERP results. We have never spammed in any sense.

The site is a .ie domain and has existed since late 1999. Our title tags are good as far as I can see but we still have this terrible ranking in Google.com for our target keyword phrase. Is there some penalty that we are not aware of and some way of detecting one?

I suspected that we don't rank well in SERPS because of our .ie domain name and hosting in the UK but I notice that there are very high ranking sites in the google.com search results pages that have country TLDs, fewer quality and quantity of links and younger in terms of years on the web.

Any ideas?

ps. we would change from our .ie TLD as a last resort or change to a keyword based domain name but would prefer to use other tactics.



 4:17 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, a country-specific TLD plus a hosting location outside the US can really hurt a site that's targeting the US. Do you have a Webmaster Tools account, and if so, have your tried the geo-targeting options in there?

Another help would be more backlinks from solid US sites.

Robert Charlton

 6:53 am on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I didn't remember ever seeing an .ie TLD page ranking in Google US on general subjects, so I did some Ireland-related searches for the kinds of sites that might logically originate in Ireland, and a few .ie domains did show up, but not nearly as many as one would expect.

I'd try getting links from US-hosted sites before I'd change the TLD. Changing domains would cost you a chunk of time and then some.


 12:24 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tedster - in the webmaster tools its not possible to change the preferred country targeting if you use a country TLD, and I agree with you on the hosting issue but really think this isn't the 80/20 solution that will benefit the site's ranking.

Robert - I think you're right. I checked the competitors in the SERPS for our keyword phrase. There is only one company with a country TLD in the top 100 google listings and that company has over 800 really high quality inbound links compared to our 72 medium-to-high quality links. Acquiring that number of inbound links is extremely difficult and expensive in our industry and would probably take several years.

Time to consider moving to a .com. Ouch!

thank you both!


 6:54 pm on Mar 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

in the webmaster tools its not possible to change the preferred country targeting if you use a country TLD

Thanks for the information, I never knew that. There's certainly a strong message being delivered by Google, eh?

Robert Charlton

 6:48 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Time to consider moving to a .com.

Again, changing domains is not to be done lightly.

I'd first check the backlinks the of the .com competition, to see what links they've needed to get where they are.

Something I wouldn't ordinarily suggest, but you might want to consider before dropping your .ie domain, would be to build a second site on a .com, with new content. Eventually, if you don't care about Irish and UK rankings, you might want to move your .ie content to it... but don't just switch cold to a new .com. I hear doing this is not as bad as it used to be, but it used to be really bad.


 8:08 am on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Whatever you do, beware of duplicate content issues, that can serious depress everything


 12:19 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

With G boosting regional results a "foreign" ccTLD is at a disadvantage, if the site is targeting the English speaking market I'd switch to a "general" TLD.

Take your case, in theory hosting in the UK will help in G.co.uk through inclusion in the "Pages from the UK" listings, but that doesn't apply to foreign ccTLDs.


 1:22 pm on Mar 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

if you are targeting US, a .com is a must IMO. People might be less likely to click on a .ie even if it ranks high.

I will soon do a UK version of my .com and I plan on doing it uk.myname.com (and of course use G's goetargeting) so I get the "it's local" effect for the users (uk.) and the benefits of a great name. If I had the .co.uk, I'd use that, but I do not so ...

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