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Results from the country started out as being results from sites under the local ccTLD. Results from Germany so would have been from www.example.de sites.
Now those results include pages in all languages registered under all TLDs. The only qualifier being location of hosting. Nothing else.
This change came, AFAIK, gradually, first I thought it was broken...
But revisiting the option these days it turns out Google has all but abandoned the ccTLDs as denominator.
Local domains have, as far as Google is concerned, become meaningless.
This is something which I think deserves some attention, even though it has been part of some previous discussions here. It think it's a sigificant change.
The importance of local hosting for Google has been further increased. Local hosting is starting to become mandatory.
It might matter to a huge multinational with local offices, but it matters very little to me, at least, even though our site is in nearly 20 languages. Most people find us through simply typing the keywords in their own language.
I beg to differ in opinion.
Some languages like English, Spanish or French are spoken in so many different countries. When people shop for something local it is a good tool for them to use.
According to your stats it looks like a pretty good guess to me.
Hands up those people who want to sell something to the locals. I thought the point of the internet was to find the people far away?
Ok, maybe that's a bit of a generalisation, but it still applies generally :)
Sly, it has always been one of the important decisions to take for sites branching out to other countries, wether to go for a local domain or not.
While there are other aspects to that decision also, the question of preferences of search engines for local domains has obviously been a main point.
I for one will definitely and strongly recommend to go for local hosting. Have done that for some months now, but now it's an imperative.
Second, if MacGuru's numbers are vaguely on average I would say to loose out on 17% of traffic is not without significance...I'd rather have them, anyway.
More fundamentally though this is an important piece in a puzzle scattered all over Google discussions on this board. Compare the countless questions and complaints from Irish and british members about in- or exclusion based upon location of hosting.
Take into account the strange filters AOL applies to Google results.
I certainly think localisation of search will be a main topic of the near future. The abandoning of TLDs as qualifier is a logical step in this development.
But the gain of traffic can be better than total queries using the filters. Dont we all have this "hard to get" query? Jumping from page 4 to page 1 for those can do a lot.
>I think just about every other search engine only goes by TLD
From the top of my head I would have to agree. Anyhow, in the light of the ever relaxing policy for registering ccTLDs the value of those for determining locailty is decreasing rapidly.
So in that light changing to hosting location makes sense.
On a sidenote I think the AOL germany filter might be a combination of IP filter with local language filter plus strict offensive content filter.
Just to chime in on this, Google can determine a site is in France by the .fr or by using other information about the site. But a .fr TLD is reasonable assurance that the site is
relevant to French users. I think just about every other search engine only goes by TLD, so TLD is still an important factor that site owners should take into account.
The cctld is useful in allowing Google to correlate the website with the country where a strong internet industry exists. However where the local cctld is too expensive or hosting charges are too expensive, there is a marked trend away from the local cctld in favour of com/net/org (CNO) domains. The number of CNO domains registered by users in that country may equal or surpass the number of cctld domains. Google seems to have problems in linking CNO websites with specific countries. I realise it is a fairly complex thing to do ;)  but has Google any plans to improve this aspect or is it geared more towards a local cctld/IP solution?
The other problem that I've noticed with Google is that it has some problems in differentiating CNO websites based on language. The Irish/UK one is a classic example because of the closely intertwined linguistic and business ties. An Irish CNO site could easily be hosted on UK IP space and it would appear as a UK site. A lot of Irish companies co-lo or host in the UK though a lot more host in the USA. (Out of the three main companies providing hosting services in my city, one hosts in the UK, another in the US and only one hosts in Waterford.) The French case is also a good example because of the fact that French is also used outside of France. It involves building a rather complex usage model for each country. The scary thing about this reliance on the local cctld is that it definitely causes a 'dark web' problem for Google where anything from 10 to 60% of CNO websites related to a country do not appear in Google's 'pages from $country' search index.
 I've been working on the problem of domain ownership:country for some time though the main concentration has been on Irish/European owned domains. The registrars problem (where a domain registrar will offer all-in registration and webhosting) can inflate a country's domain count.
Take the Seiten aus Deutschland (pages from Germany) search:
I see sites missing there registered with a .de, german language, but hosted elswhere. OTOH I see lots of pages included from sites registered under .com and other gTLDs and ccTLDs, which in fact are hosted in Germany.
Some of this could be caused by the registrar problem heini,
Germany has two of the biggest registrars in Europe (Joker/Schlund) and a lot of European hosting companies tend to use them. France has Gandi.net. Some of these hosting companies now offer all-in hosting so to a simple search model based on IP space, websites registered with these registrars and hosted on their IP space would appear to be related to Germany or France.
I am surprised that Google does not apply negative weighting to websites hosted on registrar IP space because of the uncertainty as to what country they are relevant to. The UK cctld also has a similar problem as it has a few registrars.
At the moment, the .eu tld is not active but when it goes live, it will provide a serious headache for Google and other search engines using an IP based approach to determining the relevance of a website.
The surprising thing in the report was that for spanish language web sites, .com was the most used domain extension.
Anybody else remember that one? I couldn't find it.
Spain (ES) CNO Domains: 329572 Websites: 258444
The thread was in the European Search Engines forum:
At about 45K .es the Spanish CNO registrations dwarf the .es figures.
The .es cctld is a managed registry and it requires a link with Spain in order to register a .es domain (Just like the Irish .ie registry). The cost of the .es per annum is 72.16 Euros (approx USD equivalent). The cost of a .com is about 15 Euros and does not require the paperwork or legal requirements.
But a .de is usually a good indicator, and I think we would always use that. Never hurts to host locally, but TLD's are a great signal about whether a site is relevant to specific users.
We have the same problem. One of our largest markets is the UK, even though we are based on mainland Europe.
One approach could be to make your different ccTLDs in the local language. That's duplication of a kind, but it must pass a manual check becuase it adds value to the internet.
We don't do this at present because we're worried about getting an automatic cross-linking penalty. This is a real risk if you make your site in 20 languages and put each language on a different domain.
1. Default web option: Had my English dot-com as #7 and my German dot-at as #8. Both hosted in Sweden.
2. German language option: German dot-at #1
3. German pages option: Buried deep, i.e. "German pages" does not include Austrian pages. Thank God for Adwords. (But #1 in google.at with "Austrian pages" option set.)
Have wiped coffee off keyboard. Resuming regular humdrum activites.
We have a .co.uk site hosted in the States.....
all OK on 'UK search only'....phew! If google ever did hosting location as the only qualification we would be in big trouble.
Many great sites for th UK have to use U.S. hosting for software leasing reasons. It would be a significant drop in quality of the Google serps if these sites were dropped.
The cost of hosting in Japan is easily 3 times more than the US...I'm very glad that GG cleared that up...WebmasterWorld should set up some sort of health insurance policy...I was fortunate there were a couple of frayed wires on my monitor power cable I was able to jab into my chest to get the old ticker going again...;)
To summarize: It's local hosting and/or local domain, which brings a site into the results from country searches at Google.
Pesonally I'm happy to have brought this issue out, even though it might have been a bit provocative ;)
For me, and I'm sure I'm not alone with that, this is a very important question, that needed to be answered.
I certainly think this is something that will undergo further changes though.
ccTLDs, physical and legal location of hosting, formal location of website owners, those are concepts which will gain further importance. Why? Because the web starts resembling the real world more and more. This change will be mirrored by search engines for sure.
For me (tourism) I am targeting people outside my country so they are naturally going to search "the web" opposed to the uk for example.
If you are in the Uk and sell to the UK then you need the local tld.
quite a few other Google's have that "only results from country" as well:
Google.be, google.at, google.ch, google.ca, google.cl, google.com.ar,
and I'm sure more exist and will follow.
Me too. But don't forget that Google does not yet have a 100% market share. They may in the future, but in the meantime ccTLDs make a lot of sense in many places where purely local search engines have a large market share, but where they restrict indexing to local language and local domains. Dot-coms in local language tend to work well, but not everywhere.