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Sites Devalued On Google.com When Domain Ownership Is Not USA

2:18 am on Jun 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have been noticing this recently with sites I maintain and was wondering if anyone else is seeing this...

Sites that used to rank well in Google.com have dropped where the only difference between them and sites that did not drop is the ownership of the domain is not in the USA. The hosting is, the registrar is, the subject and content is USA - just the owner does not have a USA address.

It has been widely speculated that Google uses domain info to identify network of sites linked together. Perhaps they also use that same domain info in the algo now to help determine the ranking of sites ...

Whaddaya think?

8:51 am on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I don't think so. I agree that Google accesses and uses whois information - they even have a partnership now with Name Intelligence. But the address of the owner is just too minor a signal to use for ranking, IMO - and it's bound to be a noisy signal, too.
12:29 pm on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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G has always said that their focus is on best user experience and to identify search engine ranking manipulator. While I like to think that US is a great country, any reasonable person, including me, also know that many other countries are equally good. Address shouldn't matter.
1:47 pm on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google used to say in their help system that they would sometimes look at domain registration data to help assign geo-location, but I would agree that it's a very unreliable method. In this situation, you should certainly make sure that you've selected a Geographic Target in the Tools section of the Google Webmaster Tools console.
2:34 pm on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree with skyweb - content and constantly growing content is more important to the INFORMATION HOUND (g).
and with Tedster, - the signals could be very mixed and confusing to G.
Some people opt (as do we in certain cases) mask Identity.
for g to figure out how to devalue that would be a real stretch.
whois masking may indeed be of value next year. the History of domain ownership will always be easily accessible to g though. so unless you start a domain with whois masking, it will always be there (domain tools)
2:57 pm on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree with pretty much everything being said - it should not make a difference but it does seem to.

Another thing that adds to my suspicion... normally Google would give websites hosted in a specific country a "boost" in that country's version of Google. So, if a website is hosted with a Canadian web hosting company it receives a boost in Google.ca and is unaffected in Google.com.

One of the things I am seeing now is some websites (domains) that are registered with a Canadian address but hosted in the US and dealing with US topics getting that boost in Google.ca and several pages back in Google.com

So, regardless of hosting it seems that just the registrant having a Canadian address is helpful in .ca

Actually it could be worded slightly differently where the same site is depressed in Google.com for having a Canadian registrant and unaffected in Google.ca - as that more accurately reflects the reality. The rankings in .com have gone down while the rankings in .ca have remained the same.

8:57 pm on June 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think it may make a small difference but it really shouldn't.

Too late now but I think it would have been great to have introduced a .us and .com tld in the early days.

That way we could have the world wide results and also US specific - all other countries seem to have a country specific option except the US. For instance if you are in the UK, you can search on google.co.uk for UK results or "all of the web" - nobody thinks of it as US results yet in the states people often think of .com as US results because there is no specific filter to achieve otherwise.


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