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How to tell Google you're a UK site

 9:47 am on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Although the site in question is a .com I have a UK IP address and I have set my geographical preferences to UK in Webmaster Tools.

Still, I rank 194th for my top term in Google.co.uk "Web Search" but rank 5th for my top term in Google.com

The site used to have a US IP address six months ago but assume that is long enough for even Google to notice the difference! BUT - a large portion, probably over 50%, of the inbound links are from US sites.

My theory from this would be:

1. A search on Google.com ranks you overall with all factors.
2. A search on Google.co.uk "Web" ranks sites with any IP address based on the number of UK inbound links.
3. A search on Google.co.uk "UK pages" ranks only UK tlds/IPs based on the number of UK inbound links.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this. I did mull over the idea that Google would rank in .co.uk based on the "percentage" of links from UK sites pointing to your site but that seemed to be overkill.




 1:07 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've noticed pages that rank higher in "web search" than in "pages from the UK" usually have greater numbers of "foreign" links and vice-versa, though
5 to 194 seems an unusually wide variant.

I take it the site does turn up in "Pages from the UK"?

BTW, Y! have introduced a UK&Ireland Site Explorer, may be useful to you...


 1:34 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

There seems to have been some changes recently - or at least some experimentation - in how Google identifies the geo-location on generic TLDs. Their overwhelmingly most common method was simply the IP address. They have also occasionally used information from the domain name registration data. People keep bringing up the inbound links issue, but I've always doubted that it affects geo-location - but rather just rankings for local search, etc. UK sites have had some problems when it comes to geo-location and Google. First, Google has had a couple of instances within the past year or so when they have misidentified some UK IP addresses on generic TLDs. Second, there's at least one UK hosting service whose servers are actually located elsewhere (in The Netherlands, as I recall). But if you do a site: search with 'pages from the UK' enabled and it comes up empty despite the setting in the Webmaster Tools console, I'd file a reconsideration request... there's always a chance it'll get someone to take a peek at your site.


 3:52 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had about 40 .com sites on a Texan server and G was convinced they were from South Africa and always listed them under Google.co.za. Recently we moved these to another US server and the problem has been resolved!

Second, there's at least one UK hosting service whose servers are actually located elsewhere (in The Netherlands, as I recall).

I assume that the supposedly biggest UK hosts are still served from Germany?


 1:45 pm on Apr 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have a similar issue, although no where near as extreme. SITE A

What is certain though, everything physical about the site, hosting and domain is UK, always has been.

But still it ranks better in google.com
It is about 10 places behind when just searching the UK

I am certain this is down to US/UK link ratios.

I have not set a geolocation in WMT (my rankings aren't bad, its a newish site, I am too suspicious of google)

Oddly, SITE B on the same server, same IP a similar site ranks better in UK than US - the only difference is this site is no where near as competitive and has not required as much link building efforts.

I still wonder about clicking the geolocation in WMT... have people done this and noticed and increase in UK serps?


 2:04 pm on May 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Has anyone set a UK .com site (on UK IP) which ranked higher in .com serps than .co.uk most probably due to high % of non UK links?

Has anyone used the set geo target in WMT in a similar case and noticed a change in your serps?


 12:16 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

I set the geo target to UK a few months back and doing no better. Really frustrated that a lot of hits are coming from the US. This is an ecommerce site and as most of our products are large we won't ship abroad :(


 9:29 pm on May 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well If you think that is bad for one site I am #1 in US .com for ALL my main search terms, but this traffic is useless as we can not provide a US service. From the UK it is page 3!

I am tempted to set the geographical target in google, but I wonder if there is a reason they are not rating me in the UK and I set my location to the UK - HOW WILL THIS BE USED AGAINST ME? I am just being to cynical?


 6:01 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

In my experience the address on whois plays a big role. I have a .com site that is not intended for any geo region, hosted on US based servers and with an Indian address in whois. Majority of links are from the US based sites and with a good mix of other countries. It ranks for some of the monster keywords in google.co.in, which I have no dreams of ranking on .com, not within 1,000.


 9:05 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Have you considered moving over to a .co.uk site?


 10:46 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

The WHOIS date is UK, the language in English UK, everything about this site is UK. What is causing the problem is my in links - which just goes to show they are more powerful at determining the sites 'location' in googles eyes than anything else combined.

Needless to say I am working on this links issue!

I have decided to hold off using google to set me geo target location as I am yet to come across any one who has used this to positive effect in a similar situation.


 11:14 am on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Saxos,

Why would a site that can only provide a UK service have a disproportionate number of US backlinks?

I have one competitor in my niche that seems to have bought a package for $199, includes, "relevant" directory listings, "relevant" blog listings etc etc. You get more if you pay $299. As a result they are #1 on google.com #6 on google.co.uk.

Looks like a bad idea to me.




 5:43 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

In my experience the address on whois plays a big role.

I would have to disagree. We have a privacy service on several of our domains. The privacy address is for the US and those sites are ranking fine in the UK Google. Conversely, our main problem site has a UK whois address and is having trouble ranking.

Why would a site that can only provide a UK service have a disproportionate number of US backlinks?

This can be the result of choice i.e. your own link building efforts. But sometimes you can just end up with this. If you provide a service in the UK but you have a great blog or news section you will more likely get linked to by sites outside the UK. There just aren't enough webmasters in the UK to get a higher percentage of natural OR un-natural backlinks than US links.


 5:59 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Are you listed in DMOZ? If so, double-check that your description has the tick-box indicating "this is a UK listing".

I don't know if G uses that data, but it can't hurt.


 8:40 pm on May 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

The simple answer to why I have more US back links than UK even though its a UK only service is because the industry is new and the UK follows about 12 months behind the US, hence more sites interested in mine are from the US. There is nothing dodgy about it? For this reason I only link build with UK sites to try and counter balance the US links, but I am just not getting enough quality ones quick enough. I am certain that is the issue for my site, which I why I have doubts about setting my geo target in G.


 12:26 pm on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, I've given up. I'm going to give the TLD change a try because nothing else seems to be working. I've just 301 redirected the whole .com site to .co.uk

I'll let you know if I see any improvements though it will probably be a good month or so before Google gets their act together on indexing the 301.


 1:04 pm on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

One other thing - it took G 3 months to recognise the change of geo location in Webmaster Tools for one of my sites.


 1:28 pm on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have the same problem. I was hoping that by just getting enough uk links that this would help my site rank in the uk serps, but so far it has had no effect. I am going to keep plugging away for a couple of months before I try anything as drastic as moving the tld.

I would appreciated it if you tell us how you got on.

Is this just a problem for new sites? The one I have problems with is under 1 year old or has it been a problem for established sites?


 9:35 am on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ok, biten the Bullet - I have set my geo target in WMT - expect to loose 80% of traffic (US) hopefully I will start to gain UK traffic.

I will post back my results.

For the record US serps are all 1-5 for most of my targets and page 2-4 for UK serps. Lets hope to see this flip round. (I do not supply to the US - so any traffic loses should have minor effect on my sales)



 10:17 am on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

One other thing - it took G 3 months to recognise the change of geo location in Webmaster Tools for one of my sites.

Exactly 3 months or during a WMT update? My 3 month mark for setting geopref to UK was yesterday.


 11:03 am on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)


In my niche there is some evidence that this, US weighted backlink profile, could still cause a problem even for .co.uk sites. Unless you particularly want to wait for the results of your experiment perhaps you should redouble your efforts to get more and better UK backlinks. I can't see how that could do you any harm.




 11:57 am on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks Sid, and yeah, getting decent UK back links is my #1 priority for this site, is has been for the last month or so - but I am yet to see any changes. In fact my US serps are UP, very UP. to the point I wonder if I should sell up to US competitor and start again. The site is only 4 months old.

Unless I am missing anything else here?


 12:46 pm on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Exactly 3 months or during a WMT update?

It was approximately 3 months, and probably more than 3 months. I wasn't checking it every day, so I can't tell you exactly how long it was.

Others have reported between 8 and 14 weeks for the switch to take place.


 1:17 pm on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebWalle, whilst waiting did you notice your serps drop in other regions - or did they hold until the "switch"


 7:36 pm on May 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

They held, no problems.


 4:51 pm on Aug 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm experiencing a similar problem. My site is 4 years old and is .com. The site is definitely hosted in the UK. However my site ranks much lower (many pages) for terms in google.co.uk than on google.com. The site has many inbound links from other UK sites.

internetheaven and any other users, was there a resolution with your issue?

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