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When doing a general search (using "The Web" Button), I get more and more German, Austrian and Swiss websites on the top SERP, even when looking for a ENGLISH term, for example women.
As this was not the case in the past, I trust the algo meanwhile compares the geographic location of the surfer's ISP** and tries to match it with the geographic location of the sites on their index. I did not investigate any further if this geo-targeting is based on the listed site's IP, TLD or even whois record. So let's call this "a sites geographic profile" (...as interpreted by Google).
If this finding can be confirmed by others, this will cause a major headache for all of us who want to have top ranks to reach an audience not limited or influenced by our site's geographic profile. For those fishing for local traffic, this is a field day.
In other words, when in the past you ranked for your keywords in the top 5 (when using "the web" button), this won't be the case anymore.
The SERPS are now being extremely influenced by the user's geo-profile. Which is in most cases different from yours.
Please try to reproduce this:
To have it language neutral, google (use "the web" button) for "ferrari".
Here i have in the top 10:
7 sites in german
1 site in italian
2 in english
If you have another mix of results, my theory seems to be valid. Google started to not only geo-target the ads it serves, but also the SERP itself.
I hope that my finding can not be reproduced by others. If you can reproduce it, take a deep breath and consider the implications this will increasingly have for your SEO efforts. Take another breath and consider the implication this will have for google itself. Me as Joe Surfer am frustrated with geo-targeted SERPS because in many cases it makes it more difficult for me to find the proper information, because the results are polluted with sites ranking high only because of their geo-profile. If i want geo-targeted results, i use the "my country" or "my language" buttons.
I can imagine that this observation is also an explanation for many other positively or negatively effects discussed in many other threads.
Any feedback on this is highly appreciated.
**or even worse, his/her geo-profile as determined by Googlebar/gMail settings or cookies or what ever
[edited by: engine at 5:01 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2006]
I haven't seen that at all. (But then, I have a topic--European travel--that's international by nature.)
I should have been more precise here. I meant multilingual efforts to retain any type of non-English speaking international traffic.
BTW, you are one of our affiliates, so I hear ya when you say our topic - European travel - is international by nature. That's why we have a separate site dedicated to Canadians, Australians, British, etc. We feel that by optimizing multiple sites to focus on the keywords associated per country is the most important step to catching international traffic, even between the English speaking countries.
Do you mean by this "personalized results based on searchers cookies"?
Yep, that's exactly what I meant. The point I was trying to make really about it is that your site (or sites), if optimized properly, can rank highly in any geographically targeted SERP. Not only that but it gives you the opportunity to rank highly multiple times in each SERP as well. I see our .com and .co.uk sites rank well in Google.ca and vice versa all the time. This I believe is the key in staying on top.
You seem to be in the travel industry. Let us assume one of your Keywords is "Marseille". Check the rankings for it on various local googles "search the web". It does not help you anymore, if you localize pages lets say for german customers by writting german pages. More and more these SEPRS are dominated by local sites. Thus you will maybe rank on top in google.com but not necessarily on google.hu for example.
In other words, from now on to get traffic from specific countries, you will need more and more to have a ccTLD from this country and not only content in this particular language. Otherwise you will rank in those local google's "the web" serps lower and lower.
And of course, its maybe not only the ccTLD. As I said earlier, I did not yet try to figue out what triggers the algo on local "the web" searches.
No need to believe my words. Just go and run some "the web" queris on various local googles. Make sure, that it dont serves you all the time the same results just because of the cookie it sets to you. Take an hour and start playing.
I wonder the outcome. I am really curious. Maybe I am completely wrong.
Maybe its really more the language of the site they match to the geo-location of the searcher. Thus your strategy would work. I need to further investigate that. Forget "marseille" as example. Just check the ranking for some of your keywords on various local googles.
I am extremly curious to see if they all perform well, I mean is your german locallized version's rank comparable on google.de to the same page localized for italy on google.it?
Whereas I believe that locally hosted versions in the local language is the best solution to achieve high rankings on local searches in the local language, this solution doesn’t help much when trying to achieve the best possible rankings on searches in English in more than two countries. A .com (in English) hosted in the UK takes care of those two countries, but to rank well in additional countries a lot more seems to be involved.