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is it to run the risk of being banned by the search engines?
The risk is very small if you are doing what you suggest - as Google themselves do exactly this. I'm in Canada, and when I type google.com I get redirected to google.ca and have a different page from the US version with a choice of English and French. Having said that...
I have zero programing skills and no access to the server that hosts my website so perhaps I am disqualified from the outset
Yes, this means that you are currently disqualified - but that can change as you can change servers and learn the techniques. :) The basic idea is to deliver different content dependent on the user's IP address range - but this takes server-side scripting as well as a database of IP address ranges and their geographical locations.
you can get directly to google.com by typing, or setting [google.com...] as your home page.
The problem is that your computer settings show you're in canada and the browser is passing that info on to google, which then serves you google.ca.
Setting your browser language settings to English US should also cure it
as encyclo explained it is a common practice. The term for it would be geo-targetting. If you do decide to get down and dirty with this there are a ton of ip databases around and the programming of it is very straight forward.
to answer kokaroach
those of us in Canada have a nice link to 'go to google.com' we don't have to do anything but click and that sets it forever ;)
hmmm, been a while since I looked that link isn't there anymore, oh well, if I type in google.com it goes to google.com, not .ca ;)
Can anyone send me to the right place for this?