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GWT "set geographic target" problem for UK site
lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:24 am on Jun 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Guys, I have a problem here.

Basically we are UK focused website. We are hosted in the UK, have a UK address on the site, have set Google Webmaster Tools geographic target to the UK, UK whois info, and as many UK links as we could get, but still:

for our own company name we only rank 12th on UK Google,

but 1st on google.com and every other country flavour I have tested, sometimes with sitelinks to boot.

Please what do you guys think is going on here? Its like the one country we are trying to target we have some kind of handicap on....

Any comments appreciated.

[edited by: tedster at 10:13 am (utc) on June 10, 2008]

 

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 10:20 am on Jun 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not ranking #1 for your own company name is often a sign that there is some kind of flag set against your domain for guidelines problems. But them it doesn't make much sense that you still are #1 on every other Google except the in the UK. so this is another strange one from the UK story book. It really sounds like a bug. Maybe you can find a few fresh chicken bones and hire someone who is good at casting spells ;)

But more seriously, does your company have a physical presence in the UK - and if so is the address on every page? That's about all I can come up with for the moment.

[edited by: tedster at 9:31 am (utc) on June 12, 2008]

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 10:37 am on Jun 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

yep, have a local UK address on every page of the site. have even made a google local listing which seems to come up fine.

we did at one stage make it up to position 6 in the UK for our own company name, but that only lasted about a month, then dropped back down to 12th.

do you think filing a resubmit request would make a difference? it really does seem strange to me.

p.s. do you know anyone who knows how to sprinkle some magic on websites? or were you just referring to getting an SEO firm to try some work?

thanks for your comments though.

fishfinger

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 8:19 am on Jun 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Check you're not being scraped, or that no-one is ripping off your content.
Make sure there are no dupe content issues or canonical issues.
If you have non .co.uk domains check how they 'point' to the main one. Re-check your site code by hand page by page to make sure you aren't doing anything silly like hidden text.
Check you are not keyword stuffing in any way (meta tags, overuse in menus)
Check you aren't using the same description tag across the site.
Find each and every site that links to yours and assess their quality objectively.
Make sure you aren't using the same anchor text too much in the site or in your IBLs.

Is your company name a product or service name (i.e. something fairly generic) or is it more unique?

soxos

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:01 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Luke, join the club - I have a UK .com site, UK IP, Address, Whois, Geo location set to UK - everything -

Still 1st page for all .com results, page 2/3 ish for from a UK IP....

I believe this is down to my inbound links - I am working on this, but having recently checked my sites I have discovered most of my serps are #1 for g.com yet still flagging on page 2 or 3 for UK searchers.

This is crazy! None of my other sites have this problem. I just wish I could reverse the trend as US users are worthless for the site in question - typical!

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:31 pm on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

How are you doing in the "Pages from the UK" results?

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 11:05 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Pages from the UK" brings the same results as "the Web", on g.co.uk

fishfinger

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 11:30 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's (by which I mean should be) fairly unusual IMO unless you are searching locally i.e. 'service london' for example.

Google appears to be prone to geotargeting bugs. Last year they de-indexed many UK hosted but non .co.uk sites from their 'UK only' results for months.

RedCardinal

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 11:35 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think this might actually be a bug rather than a penalty.

There have been a few reports of this, and I think Google are looking into it at this stage.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 11:52 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think this might actually be a bug rather than a penalty.

It's not a bug per se. It is an uneven allocation of the algorithm. Basically it has to do with geo-link-thresholds.

A site in the US can get thousands of backlinks quite easily with only a small percentage coming from outside the US. In the UK it is much harder to obtain genuine UK links as many UK sites/blogs are hosted in the US. Google's threshold is much, much too harsh on UK sites that have inbounds from non-UK countries and many, many sites are being "penalised" (I believe it is more of a side effect than an imprinted penalty) unfairly.

Small example, if a US site prints a great article and 1000 blogs, news and social sites (most of which are hosted in the US) link to it that site shoots up in the rankings on .com which is great for the site owner. If a UK site had come up with the same article and 1000 blogs, news and social sites (most of which are hosted in the US) linked to it that page would shoot up on .com and practically vanish on .co.uk which is the opposite of what should happen.

Google needs to realise the huge cross-over between US and UK sites and to stop treating them as completely different geo-targets.

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 7:26 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

so basically if you only want UK traffic, you are better off with no foreign backlinks at all?

does this not leave room for crippling competitors who rank higher by distributing a bunch of articles for example with backlinks to them from US article sites.....?

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 8:20 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

so basically if you only want UK traffic, you are better off with no foreign backlinks at all?

Foreign is fine as long as it is a very small number of links, only from highly trusted sources and you have a .co.uk domain.

does this not leave room for crippling competitors who rank higher by distributing a bunch of articles for example with backlinks to them from US article sites

A more effective black hat method is getting sites from India to link to your competitors. (See the dozens of threads in WW on how Google let's you damage your competitors)

RedCardinal

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 3:43 am on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

A site in the US can get thousands of backlinks quite easily with only a small percentage coming from outside the US. In the UK it is much harder to obtain genuine UK links as many UK sites/blogs are hosted in the US. Google's threshold is much, much too harsh on UK sites that have inbounds from non-UK countries and many, many sites are being "penalised" (I believe it is more of a side effect than an imprinted penalty) unfairly.

The only fly in the ointment for that hypothesis is that it would not account for these sites ranking #1 for [search term] in every google country property other than .co.uk.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:27 am on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

The only fly in the ointment for that hypothesis is that it would not account for these sites ranking #1 for [search term] in every google country property other than .co.uk.

Eh? That's exactly what I stated is the result.

RedCardinal

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 10:46 am on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe I missed something - how then do these sites rank so well in every other Google property? Your theory would likely affect at least some other Google properties also surely? Little bit far-stretched to think that only the UK is affected by link geo-location?

soxos

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 12:01 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Actually, I have the exact same problem (uk .com site - all UK content / whois / ip / geo traget) top 5 in all serps except UK!

Now how does that work?

I did suspect it was to do with IBL / geo IBL link graph - but I am not so sure now as following a thorough IBL anaysis my IBL are in fact from the majority of UK sources - with a very reasonable amount of what I consider to be high trust sites (mainly mainstream news websites).

It is all very odd, and totally unique to this one website I look after.

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 12:36 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

yes it seems like quite a few people out there have this problem. is there any way to get google's attention to the matter?

i have tried webmastertools google group, and got very little response.

fishfinger

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 2:04 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

how then do these sites rank so well in every other Google property?

Could you clarify what you're seeing? Are the rankings in regional search engines but the 'world results' or are they in the country-specific results?

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 2:51 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi,

There are (at least) two main elements to what we see different on the google.co.uk. One is a "geo" filter and the other is a UK English semantics element to the algo.

I'm convinced that my "problem" is in large part associated with a change in the way Google analyses UK semantics for words and phrases, possibly mainly in anchor text. Having had a quick look at Luke's problem I think that his issue may be similar.

Here's my hypothesis:

It could just be possible that Google's algo analyses the English words and phrases, in anchor text, from US sites differently from the English words and phrases, in anchor text, from UK sites. So it is not the words as a linguistic units that it is using but a semantic understanding of those words and phrases. Its almost as if they have gone through the dictionary and flagged up words and phrases that are different and these are to be assessed differently on the basis of the site where they are used, in anchor text, rather than where the site is to which they are pointed.

So links with anchor text on a US site carry the US semantics for that word or phrase and sites in the UK, that use the same word or phrase in anchor text, contain the UK semantic meaning. In cases where a word has a clear difference in US and UK English usage this could cause a problem and lead to people saying that the UK geo filter is broken.

I hope I have explained this effectively.

Cheers

Sid

soxos

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 2:53 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

In my case, the site ranks in top 5 for every regional google / country specific .co.nz / .au / .in / .ie / .fr (every one I try) - AND top 5 in .com / searches from a US IP - this is clearly confirmed if you look at my stats / WMT.

UK searchs (UK IP / G.co.uk) my serps are page 2 ish

This is despite everything about the site being UK based (hosting IP, whois info, geo target in G, even my links now are more weighted towards the UK than any other region. There seems no explanation or reason why.

soxos

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 3:01 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sid, that is a very insightful explanation. I will have to think about it more clearly later. My main blockage at the moment, is that my main search term is not used widely in US english (they call it by a different name) Maybe there is a clue in there and I can not see the wood for the trees.

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 3:13 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

After Florida, which I think was mainly to do with Google incorporating semantics into their algorithm I had a major problem. Dropped out of the results completely. I did loads of stuff to try and get back and moved back to #40 ish having always been #1.

Then I persuaded GoogleGuy to take a look at my problem. I explained in detail what I thought was causing the problem and why. I explained the difference between the UK and US meaning of one particular word. He looked at it, undestood what I was saying and fixed it. I went back to #1 and stayed there until last August.

I'm convinced something changed related to both the commerciality and semantics of phrases last August. Some words and some phrases where given different value and assessed differently and this changed the US/UK semantic balance.

Cheers

Sid

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 7:07 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

For those of you saying that you are ranking well in non-UK google.tlds - by any chance are you typing in english keywords and logging onto that tld from a UK ip address?

If you type english words into a german search engine from a UK IP address you see very different results than someone who types in the german equivilent from a german IP address.

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 7:43 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you type english words into a german search engine from a UK IP address you see very different results than someone who types in the german equivilent from a german IP address.

Hi IH,

Did you mean to say that? It makes perfect sense but is somewhat bl***ing obvious or am I missing something.

Cheers

Sid

soxos

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 8:41 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

My research is on english speaking countries only. However in my stats I receive equally as many referrals from non-english speaking google serps as english speaking ones - And yes, this is because people are using english words.

Which to me only leaves one variable - the IP address (location) of the searcher.

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 10:51 pm on Jun 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

@InternetHeaven - i completely understand what you are saying but it is not the case here. I have tested my problem by searching from US, UK, Spanish, and South African IP addresses. I travel frequently to those places, and sometimes use proxies to keep an eye on the SERPS when I'm not in those places. The results for my set of keywords are always the same and don't differ according to my IP at the time. I have noticed this has a much bigger impact on Yahoo than it does Google for my industry. Have obviously noticed this does happen for other keywords, especially more localised topics.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 8:56 am on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Did you mean to say that? It makes perfect sense but is somewhat bl***ing obvious or am I missing something.

Didn't think I had to say it but people keep posting how they are ranking well in other tlds, but Google will most likely return google.co.uk results in google.de if the terms entered are in english.

I have tested my problem by searching from US, UK, Spanish, and South African IP addresses.

Again, please state the google.tlds you are checking. Are they foreign language googles or all english speaking such as Canada and Australia? And confirm that you rank nowhere on google.co.uk but rank really well on all other english language Google.tlds

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:31 am on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

internetheaven - i have now tested it on about 10 foreign language google.tlds and all the english language google.tlds i could find.

I seem to be number 1 on every single one except:
google.co.uk - currently 7th
google.com.au - currently 2nd (1st is an Australian site with a similar name)

something else i would like to point out is that since starting this thread just over a week ago, i have actually moved up from about 12th to 7th in the serps on Google.co.uk for my own company name. i had been sitting on exactly 12th for months and months. could be coincedance i know, but the whole thing seems very peculiar seeing as we are optimised as much as possible towards being a UK site.

hisingsid' - coming back to your comments about the possibility of the different phrases between UK and US english and the different weighting that google puts on them: i tested my company name search on google.ie, google.im and others, which all use the same phrases in my industry as people in the UK, and I still come up trumps on those. So it really seems as tho it is a strictly a google.co.uk problem, and not necessarily something to do with the language and phrases people use there and the additional weighting google may have added to that. i'll clarify by PM if i'm not being clear here.

lukewd

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:45 am on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

i have now done a bunch of testing for many of the other sites i own. these also have quite competitive words in the actual site/company name, and are also UK focused, but not as well optimised as the site in question.

they seem to rank perfect well on google.co.uk. i am starting to think this could be some kind of UK sandbox for my domain. either that or it is definately a bug. the other domains were all bought brand new with no previous registration history. the site i am talking about was bought from another person so it has a history. i wonder if that could have something to do with it?

another thing, many of my other sites i was talking about do have links to my main site, but they are all very much on the same topic and all have completely unique content. the links are sitewide however... could this be a problem? but then that wouldn't explain the problem being exclusive to google.co.uk.

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3671048 posted 9:59 am on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Luke,

I wasn't talking about the real world but the semantic algorithms that Google has decided to apply to results served specifically to google.co.uk. FWIW google.ie looks exactly like google.com for me for my "problem" term. So I'm pretty sure it is a UK only issue that I was describing.

Without breaching any confidences I think that it would perhaps be worth telling people that your company name is made up of 2 (no need to & probably unwise to disclose the actual words)generic words that may be used by people searching for the service that you offer. Like for example bluewidget.com. One element of this say "blue" has a somewhat different semantic map in the US to the UK.

It was interesting to see this example as it supports my hypothesis, its still just an hypothesis though.

Cheers

Sid

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