Simsi - 10:59 am on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)
In my experience, YMMV, forget WMT tools, the only sure way I have found is to have a site under a ccTLD with LOCAL contacts etc or a regional TLD such as .asia
Problem is I'd have to sacrifice domain branding to achieve that. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
It doesn't seem very logical to me that Google would insist on this for a company to do global business. It would disregard one of the fundamental advantages of the Internet. I guess it's down to translation: does a .co.uk extension indicate the company is based in the UK, or does it mean that they want to do business in the UK. For me (and most laypersons I suspect) it should be the former.
Surely if I set up a subdomain australia.widgets.com that should be enough for Google to recognise where my target market is? Perhaps I am over-simplifying things but that would be a pretty neat - and prety clear - standard and would also provide those businesses that can't get all their local ccTLD's with a simple solution.
Anyway, it's early days for Search so maybe with ccTLD's it's just a question of making do until algo's can find a better way.