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Running an International Site

How do you get around geo-targetting?

     
3:12 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



With MSN (and others) now redirecting their search traffic by using geo-targeting, how can one run an international site?

My site is designed to teach the English language to people from all over the world. Needless to say, I don't want the fact that it's hosted in the UK to mean that only comes up on MSN (UK). Most people in the UK generally have a grasp of English. Most people in other countries will be interested in our reference area containing language glossaries and dictionaries.

My target audience is everyone, and in any country.

The general searcher or user of search engines will probably not even notice the redirection, which will only go to compound the problem.

I'm now pulling my hair out trying to prevent my site from dying on the spot. If MSN sticks to their guns, it is simply a case of damage limitation.

Does anyone know of any recommended practices to help my site escape this painful death?

5:01 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I been testing this out and have come to the following conclusion.

MSN does not use .TLD or website content to determine country of origin. MSN uses the location of your ISP to determine your location.

I was wondering why some American sites were at the top of the listings, when I was selecting Canadian only sites. Apparently these American sites were by hosted out of Calgary Alberta.

This method is fine for finding the location of a web customer (over 99% accurate). But it fails for ISP's as companies will host with the ISP with the best prices and features, and location (Canada or USA, Britian or whatever) is a secondary factor.

What MSN needs to do, is to use on page factors to determine a location of a company.

Unless MSN fixes this, you will need to host in the country that you generally do most of your business, or create separate sites with separate content (to avoid dup content penalty), for every country you with to do business in, to get the best MSN results.

Having a matching .TLD for each country and a .com for the US would provide added insurance, incase MSN switches to a .TLD geolocation determing model in the future.

5:12 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



That is asking alot to suggest many different versions of the same site when your theory is not proven. I don't know the answer but I do klnow that a UK site I host in Germany does very well in MSN.co.uk. There must be many factors that contribute to geo targetting.

One thing that I think may be important is the physical location of the links to your site. Let's say that 20% of UK businesses host outside the UK, then if you have 100% of your links from UK sites then 80% of them will be seen as UK, a good indication that your site caters for the UK. So if a site has links from 20 countries then it could be seen as international.

I would try to get links from every country I could, this could drive traffic as well as improve SERPs.

5:18 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



For our case, we are interested in the Canada and USA market, so it would not be very expensive. We are holding off, however until we see if MSN is going to fix or refine its geotargeting crieteria.

I also noticed that by using {mtch=0} "exact search" , this takes precidence over the country of origin.

6:30 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MSN does not use .TLD or website content to determine country of origin. MSN uses the location of your ISP to determine your location.

Not that it's necessary, but I can confirm that.

6:42 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



create separate sites with separate content (to avoid dup content penalty), for every country you with to do business in

Only companies the size of Google could afford to do that. :-o Given that our target market is any country where English is not a first language, this solution is simply impossible.

I would try to get links from every country I could, this could drive traffic as well as improve SERPs.

This is far more in line with what I'd imagined, and seems a natural marketing strategy for a site such as ours.

Does anyone have any data on whether this seems effective to combat geo-location & redirection?

I realise it's early days and that MSN is bound to alter the way they do things in the future, but given the current localisation trend in search, it seems sensible to be addressing this issue as soon as possible as a contingency plan.

6:45 pm on Feb 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



MSN does not use .TLD or website content to determine country of origin. MSN uses the location of your ISP to determine your location.

Not that it's necessary, but I can confirm that.

You may be able to say that with confidence or not but the important issue would be how much weight is put on the location. As I have a .co.uk hosted in Germany sitting at #3 on MSN for a single word generic term I'd suggest that in that case at least it really isnt making any difference. If it was important then surely many more 'UK' sites would be above it than the 2 from 1,500,000 that currently are.

10:40 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



MSNDude maybe you could have an eye on our problem:

It seems that the European national variants of the new MSN Search is stuck in a mode where they primarily show sites with IP addresses within that country. No matter how I configure the settings, I can't get out of this mode. I've looked at several countries.

Bug or feature? :)

Yeap see the same here. This is one anoying thing if you are running a .com site which is designated for the whole world. Also if the check boxes for the local searches are not set I got top in my national MSN but not to see much on MSN.com. It simply goes every time after the geoip.

But this is FALSE! Why should be a need to put every .com on US soil? I have traffic from arround the globe and love this!

If I would intent a national only site I would not do it in English and would not put it under an international TLD.

Think you got it.

[edited by: xcomm at 10:46 pm (utc) on Feb. 4, 2005]

10:44 pm on Feb 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I would try to get links from every country I could, this could drive traffic as well as improve SERPs.

I have not very much but only international links and it sticks me to my nation.

Yahoo for example is doing the opposite of this.

BTW: Never submitted my url to MSN or Yahoo...

1:39 pm on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Does anyone know of any ways to persuade search engines that your site is international in focus (and that you are relevent to all queries from all locations)?

Is there any evidence that certain techniques work (or that they don't)?

Does anyone have a site that comes up well for their local MSN *and* comes up well in another country's MSN?

What do you think makes the difference?

3:13 pm on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)




create separate sites with separate content (to avoid dup content penalty), for every country you with to do business in

Only companies the size of Google could afford to do that. :-o Given that our target market is any country where English is not a first language, this solution is simply impossible.

I don't think that is true, Red5. Presumably a truly multinational site is multi-lingual. It would be possible to host french.yourdomain.com on a French server, German.yourdomain.com on a German server and so on, very inexpensively. You only need one top level domain name to do this, and inexpensive virtual servers. The language would always be different, so no dupe content.

I see plenty of subdomains getting on the first pages of results, although presumably the penalty of a subdomain is not severe in its own right.

Dixon.

3:55 pm on Feb 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for your reply,

As my site is an English language site, designed to teach English, I fail to see what value my visitors would get if it were in their own tongue. It is a "total emmersion" website where they learn to communicate in the English language by reading English content and chatting in the forums in English. Translations are not very helpful.

What I am really looking for are suggestions such as the one above about getting international links, and I wonder whether people have tested these sorts of techniques with any success?

1:17 pm on Feb 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Sadly, lots of international links do not seem to help. We run 4 sites from the UK and all are ranked PR6 by Google with lots of inbound links from all over the world. Lots of content and no SEO spamming.

On msn.co.uk we rank very well for most of our keywords - as good as google or better.

msn.com ; nada, zip, zero. Rankings so far down the tree you need a deep-sea diving rig to find.

Darn irritating as 80% of our customers are overseas.

12:08 am on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'll have to pitch in here too. Something is changing!

We're running one site, hosted in Sweden, but published in English only. It is really an international version of one of our Swedish sites, and has lots of links from the UK and US.

Up until a few days agot it was almost impossible to find it from search.msn.co.uk or search.msn.com, but something has changed.

Suddenly, it holds positions 7 and 8 at .co.uk and position 10 at .com, and that for a two-word phrase I've been trying hard to get anywhere for with Google without any luck. At search.msn.se we're at the top spot, but that won't do us much good at all.

I'm really happy about it of course, since I've been yelling about this for months now.

The search terms where we top the G and Y serps still don't work for us, but at least this is proof MSN Search is actually doing something about their geo location problem.

Then again... I'm on a Swedish IP. Now I'll have to start worrying that Brits and Americans don't see the same results as I am.

4:26 pm on Feb 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Yeah, looks like they turned down the 'weight of ip address' knob.

It's still not enough though.

I don't understand why the "Only from United Kingdom" checkbox is there. The results seem to be the same with this checked or un-checked. Surely when this checkbox is off, the results should be the same as .com and when it is checked ...?

Is it just me?

11:30 am on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Hi Nikkie,
I have the exact same problem as you describe even though my site is hosted in Denmark and not Sweden. We are in top 3 on all important search terms on google.com and msn.dk but when it comes to msn.com we simply don’t show up. It is a huge problem for us since our main marked is USA and not Denmark.

Any other thoughts on what could be done.

Are anyone considering switching ISP to a US based one or would you recommend to “ride this off”.

/asbjoern

11:47 am on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I have English and French language sites all of which are hosted from the USA which is 4 times cheaper than if I had them on servers in France ( same spec /service etc ) ..
Wether one searches for my targeted keywords from France the USA or the Uk,Germany,Australia or wherever ( had friends test from various locations to be sure )..I come up in the top 5 on MSN "G" and Yahoo and always did ..I seriously wonder if there is as much "geotargetting" as is thought to be happening actually being done by the search engines except possibly in the hotels and travel areas where "G's" local search does appear to do this?
12:51 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I am positive that something has changed dramatically, and have to have something to do with geotargeting. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense to me.

/asbjoern

12:55 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



You may be able to say that with confidence or not but the important issue would be how much weight is put on the location.

I think they still put significant weight on the hosting location, and I don't consider this a smart choice.

I have a german language site hosted in the US, which ended up first place for "<country> Reisen" ("<country> travel") on search.msn.com within just a few days. It is nowhere (yet) to be found in search.msn.de.

I'm not saying that the top spot on .com is necessarily justified, just pointing out the difference... ;)

1:10 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member




"I don't understand why the "Only from United Kingdom" checkbox is there. The results seem to be the same with this checked or un-checked. Surely when this checkbox is off, the results should be the same as .com and when it is checked ...? "

Totaly agree...the current setup does not even make logical sense.

A tick box for -just the UK- is a good idea but ONLY if you give us all the web results first.

Please don't give us UK results and then ask us with the tick box if we want...only for the UK!

This just leaves everyone confused and its another reason for those enterprising soles that are trying out MSN to go back to using Google and Yahoo! who serve up the complete web.

 

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