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The Yahoo mystery solved?

Google's datacenters and Yahoo

5:33 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am in Toronto and was speaking with someone in San Diego and was trying to direct him to one of my sites using Google. I told him just type "keyword keyword" on Google and it is the #1 site. He did as instructed but my site wasn't there in fact it was many positions behind. I got him to read me the top 10 list. I realized that he was telling me the same rankings as Yahoo (actually, almost same as Yahoo because Yahoo does slightly reshuffle the results).
Over a month ago I noticed that Yahoo was giving me very different results then the version of Google I saw. I thought it was something taking play at Yahoo, but now I realize the Yahoo is tapped into a different datacenter of Google and possibly is the California based version of Google.
This for me causes some real problems. I have sites targeted specifically for California that rank much worse in that version of Google, possibly because the sites are hosted in the east coast of Canada. So how does one optimize for this? Must I get localized hosted. I deal with over fifty sites across North America fifty hosting providers seems costly and troublesome.
How many different versions of Google are there? Are the rankings with a US bias?
I realize talk of Google data centers has been going for some time, but it seems unfair that those hosted outside of the US are getting penalized on Google as well as its partners Yahoo and AOL.
6:07 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Datacenters might be on different points of being updated, as we've seen during this last update, but a datacenter bias just doesn't make any sense, nor have I seen any evidence of this. Obviously a google.ca "Canada only search" will produce different results, but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

Likely at some point your google will produce the same results as yahoo and everyone else's google once all the datacenters are up to date. Meanwhile you can tell people what datacenter to use if you want to show them certain results.

Check your Content-Language meta tags. While the east coast of Canada doesn't sound like prime server real estate, I can't imagine google would penalize you for US listings based on that.

6:24 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The data centers are updated. This isn't the problem. The results people see in New York are different then what they see in San Diego and are different then what I see.
I first detected this on Yahoo, but really the effect is on Google. It is feeding areas with different information (different versions of the serps).
6:31 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

> It feeding areas with different information.

Can anyone else weigh in on this? I always assumed that all the data centers eventually showed the same SERP's. I have not seen any indication that Google serves up different pages based on data centers. If they are different, what would the factors be to make them different? Can anyone post a live example?

6:47 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A live example (URL) is against the terms of service for WebmasterWorld. However, I can attest to this fact. There are indeed different regional results.

These territorial variations can be very, very annoying. I live in a very tiny, Caribbean nation with a population of just over 20,000. If I go to Google, I get the "vg" results which Google has chosen to serve me.

Thankfully, I have book marked google.com/intl/en/ which shows me what it is I want and need. Living on a small island in the Caribbean, goods and services which many of you take for granted, are simply not available here. However, there are many sites out there which would purport to offer those things I am looking to buy. They don't!

So instead, I use the international Google and am happy to report that I get what I need, when I need it. The shame of it is, that I am probably the only person in the British Virgin Islands who knows what I know ... (due to my participation in WebmasterWorld). The rest of the population are unfortunately forced to put up with the "vg" results which are often lacking and require the surfer to drill down into the Serps 3 and 4 pages before finding what they really want.

I can only assume that regional results are provided because this is (for the most part) a smart way to go. Someone looking to buy "X" brand tennis shoes in Ohmygosh, Nebraska probably wouldn't be interested in store locations/dealers in California which offer the same shoe.

There are drawbacks to both data delivery choices. I feel it is incumbant upon the webmaster to optimize their site using regional keywords and that the keyword density should be sufficient to show up for anyone searching for stores in that area.

Unfortunately, webmasters are not always that proficient or knowledgeable in the ways of SEO ... so Google has helped them by providing regional serps.

I hate that ... but then again, I know how to get around the problem. Most don't!

[edited by: Liane at 7:02 am (utc) on April 16, 2003]

6:51 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

Yesterday I was speaking with a new client in Santa Rosa. His site had just hit the index with several excellent rankings and I wanted him to see the results, which were much better than we expected with only 2 inbound links to start out.

He couldn't see any of them. For a lot of yesterday, his California Googling got a very different set of results than my searches from Boston. I thought the update had settled out and I was quite surprised.

But by dinner he was seeing the same results I did. It might have been a temporary thing in CA. It is a bit different on the left coast, after all.

7:21 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This whole different results for regionally Googles poses serious problems for my business or other businesses. Currently, depending on where a company is hosted or possibly where the parent company operates sites are give an advantage on Google. For me I host in Canada because it cheaper and makes sense to do so through one company. It happens that I deal in information targeted for major cities across North America. I need some way of getting around the datacenter issue in order to maintain my competitiveness for the markets I serve.
Has anyone thought of a way of doing this? Isn't this system encouraging people to host their sites in one area over another?
7:30 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm on the left coast of Canada (doesn't get much more left than where I am) and I never see the same results on google.com as my buddies in the US. I have to go through a proxy to see where I really rank. It really bugs me. I selected google.com instead of google.ca because I didn't want the Canadian results but I get the exact same results as google.ca. On one update I thought I had nailed a top 5 slot again. I was dancin in the street until someone I sent the link to asked what I was talking about...

c'mon google - I want to opt of the Canadian results - don't just rewrite the url for me and give me the same results.

7:36 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Does that mean we can target pages to different geographic regions?
7:44 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

May be Google is anti-Canadian. It seems very unfair to me that we can't compete with our US counterparts. Google shouldn't filter the results based on location, too many are hosting in locations where their business might not even be located. May be Googleguy would like to comment.
7:47 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As far as i know google serves only country specific results So SERPS should look the same in all of USA not differently in different parts of USA ...

Geo targetting within USA based on where in US the site is hosted is really a bad idea and i dont think google will use it

I assume whatever people noticed is some temporary glitch in synchronizing the results between different google datacenters

9:10 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I didn't mean the anti-Canadian comment serious. But there is discriminate based on location where those in the US have better ranking purely based on their US location. It makes it difficult to compete when you have to overcome the penalty of be hosted/located outside of the US.
Google may not be anti-Canadian but the effects are just the same.
9:24 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>penalty of be hosted/located outside of the US. <

Thats not the case. What I am seeing are SERPS served based on the IP of the surfer, not as to the location of the hosted site.

9:52 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Welcome Americans to the pains of geo-targetting?

[webmasterworld.com...] msg#29

Internet's global village becoming local again?

[webmasterworld.com...] msg#6

I'm not into travel or tourist stuff, but even in my field there has been more and more different results:

Maybe a bit of this [google.com] and also maybe a bit of that? [rose.cs.ucla.edu]

just to add to the geo-differentiating paranonoia..;)

9:55 pm on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


So how is IP used? For example if I have a site about Las Angeles hosted in Canada. If I view the site from Canada (a Canadian IP) I see the site ranked well. However, someone in LA sees the site as being poorly ranked.

12:17 am on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I believe there is also a regional bias due to the dependance of Google on DMOZ. It seems that due to historical reasons there were very few regional/US/widgets directories when it was first created and that top:/widgets directories were used instead and naturally had US editors.

When a site is submitted to the top:/widgets directory from one of these other_countries they often don't get in or it takes forever. So what do they do to get a DMOZ listing? Well Regional/other_countries seem to have quite an abundance of widgets directories so they submit to the one for their 'other country'. They are after all allowed to have a regional listing in addition to the top:/widgets one that they can't seem to obtain.

OK, so what's wrong with that? They got their DMOZ listing didn't they? Yes but the US widgets site in the top:/widgets of DMOZ will more than likely be in a Google directory which has a PR of 5 or more. Whilst the non US widgets site will probably be in a directory with a PR of much less.

It's definitely down to DMOZ not Google to redeploy those widget sites in the top:/widgets to regional/US directories that will need to be created. Isn't it unfair though that Goggle cannot compensate for DMOZ's failings instead of aggravating them?

All just my opinion though..........

12:51 am on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>So how is IP used? <

Not sure but I'm pretty confident that it isn't based on where the site is hosted.

2:15 am on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You could be right. I believe that they are doing it based on the whois. They would see my company is based in Canada and penalize me when I compete for US terms.

2:17 am on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


In my case the DMOZ thing is not an issue because the sites are listed in the US directory for the city they serve. So I'm on the same page as my competitors when it comes to DMOZ.


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