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Ranking in multiple countries and languages

 5:00 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are building a site which needs to rank in various countries. I have suggested having .co.uk for the uk, .com for the us, .es for spain etc.

How much more dificult would it be to rank using just a .com domain for the whole site having the diferent languages and specifying in the meta data the language?



 9:04 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

The ccTLD is the strongest location signal. On google.co.uk it can get the site to show in "pages from the UK", for instance, instead of only in "the web" results. It also gives a boost to google.com ranking for searches done from the local country.

How much more difficult is it to get a .com to show in the google.co.uk results? Depending on the terms, the hosting location and IP address, the backlink profle and so on, it can be a good bit more difficult or no problem at all.

I work with one site where 11 countries are targeted, by language, from a .tv domain. It gets decent ranking and traffic from most of those countries with no major work done, but the search terms are not very competitive either.

[edited by: tedster at 10:57 pm (utc) on Oct. 15, 2008]


 10:33 pm on Oct 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

How much more dificult would it be to rank using just a .com domain for the whole site having the diferent languages and specifying in the meta data the language?

Purely from my experiences across many sites and ccTLDs, my experimentations show that Google is geo-targetting much more and I assume they will continue to roll this out. At present it is a bit "hit and miss" however I have no doubt they will be more successful with it in the future.

I can tell you now that even a well-established UK registered and hosted .com though it may rank #1 on Google.com can rank several places lower on both Google.co.uk and Google.com (the web).

I have to say that these results change all the time in all (the web) of Google SERPs I regularly check, e.g. .br .de .es .fr .in .it .pl plus many others and checking them one day is no guarantee they will be the same the following day.

Interestingly for some ccTLDs it does not seem so important to actually host in that country now, I've specifically had very good results with Google.co.in hosted outside of India and for pretty competitive trade widget keyword phrases.

I suppose a lot may depend on how competitive your industry is and what type of site it is, i.e. informational, brochure, ecommerce, affiliate etc...each one, in my opinion, would probably require a different solution.

Perhaps initially an easy question but with no really easy answer other than ensure you can separate each language section of the site from the main body if/when it may become necessary.


 12:04 am on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd probably go for one site per language; so long as your message is much the same, then duplicating the same-language site will risk duplicate content penalties, and dilute your seo effort (links are shared, instead of coming to one place).

Plus whatever 'marketing advantage' you got in one country by geo-targeting, you lost in all the countries where you didn't have a local site.

A local message needs geo-targeting, a standard message needs a .com (but not invariably!).


 8:17 am on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

duplicate content penalties

Ooops - that's wrong, there is no duplicate content penalty; though duplicate content problems may feel that way.

Sorry about that.


 2:18 am on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Companies with multiple locations across the globe need to have a unique site in each country to perform well?

EN Canada, EN UK, EN US. I think Google should put more weight on locations cause it's getting a little ridiculous.

I'm dealing with this issue at the moment....id rather hit my head against a wall.


 4:36 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Geo-targeting can be done without having a unique site in each country you just don't get the extra benefits and boost so basically its a little more work and very hard to top a well targeted local result.

Just make sure you follow these basic rules

The back links, content, keywords, doc type and meta tag should match region and language geo-targeting correctly

for example google dot com search should be targeted to US page meta type

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

The United Kingdom for example
google dot co.uk search should be targeted to UK page meta type

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />

Make sure that page has the correct match ups and it will help even if you don't have it hosted in that region or a ccTLD

Receptional Andy

 9:22 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

YellowSEO: I'm a bit confused about the meta elements you posted. The first is a (global) doctype declaration, while the second is a (global) character set declaration. Neither imply any localisation of the content, but are instructions for web browser on the best way to display the page's HTML contents. Did you mean a different meta element, perhaps?

On the original question, I think you will find it a lot more difficult to target every regional audience with one domain. Domain names and hosting are cheap, and I think you're better off with regional sites if you need to target regional audiences. The more competitive your market, the more a regional site is a must.


 9:54 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

What about using the .com and subdomains like "es.domain.com" etc? I think you can host subdomains in different countries right? Which gets round the local hosting issue. In theory.

Receptional Andy

 10:04 pm on Oct 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm never happy with "in theory" ;)

Search engines (understandably) struggle with geo-locating websites. example.es has an explicitly declared audience. es.example.com relies on a several-stage process to correctly identify a target audience. A process unique to each search engine and constantly undergoing change.


 8:07 pm on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

LOL - correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 95% of SEO "in theory" Andy ;-)

Receptional Andy

 8:13 pm on Oct 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

isn't 95% of SEO "in theory"

It's only in theory until you put it into practice and see if it works ;)

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