phranque - 12:43 pm on Mar 27, 2013 (gmt 0)
welcome to WebmasterWorld, Shai!
So, even if I get the verification to work, I am still left with a problem right? Would you expect the current number of the .co.uk pages indexed to just start to drop over time as google is no longer able to crawl them?
yes you will still have a problem if google can't crawl the .co.uk urls.
are any .co.uk urls indexed? (using a site:example.co.uk search)
are they in the google.co.uk index and/or the google.com index?
Is there any way round this? Or do I just tell the client to buy the .com and have a example.com/en. and example.com/ie/ directories?
ideally the client would keep example.ie and example.co.uk for the country-code specific regions for which they are intended, and also use example.com to serve content for ROW (the "rest of the world").
continuing ideally, these domains would each contain unique content based on the intended audiences.
then host the example.ie and example.co.uk domains within their intended countries and host the example.com domain in the US.
but first fix the automatic redirects based on visitor location - your problem is described in the blog post linked below.
Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Working with multilingual websites:
If you’re going to localize, make it easy for Googlebot to crawl all language versions of your site. Consider cross-linking page by page. In other words, you can provide links between pages with the same content in different languages. This can also be very helpful to your users. Following our previous example, let’s suppose that a French speaker happens to land on http://example.ca/en/mountain-bikes.html; now, with one click he can get to http://example.ca/fr/vélo-de-montagne.html where he can view the same content in French.
To make all of your site's content more crawlable, avoid automatic redirections based on the user's perceived language. These redirections could prevent users (and search engines) from viewing all the versions of your site.
in your case the language is irrelevant but the technical issues are similar.
you should also read this blog post to understand the issues.
Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Working with multi-regional websites:
you might consider using the link rel alternate hreflang element to cross-reference the various versions as described in the blog post linked below and mentioned in the quote above, but you'll still have to fix the redirect problem so that googlebot can request the other linked versions of each page.
Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: New markup for multilingual content: