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Anyone have an idea how long it usually takes for that change to take effect?
I guess there is a lot of complexity to geo-targetting and changes are not like simply throwing a switch.
Google treats geo targetting URL based not site-wide.
Probably it works similar in the case you describe.
Make sure you have inbound links from New Zealand sites... ie, sites that do well in google.co.nz. I suspect that Australian links will help as well, but I'm not sure how Google slices up the territories down there.
You should also have localized New Zealand content on your site, including address info, phone numbers, NZ spelling where appropriate, etc.
Do you have a .com or a .co.uk tld?
edd1 - Please forgive the typo. It should have been .co.nz. But I assumed that if you'd previously been in the US, you have a .com, so it's likely that inbound links will become a factor.
Google looks for all the confirming signals it can get, and hosting is only one of several. Generally, language and tld are the most important, but you can never ignore links.
In the case of countries with a more or less common language, with a .com tld, inbound links and content signals take on an even greater role. I myself don't put much trust into WMT preferences to significantly compensate for other factors.
If you just want to increase traffic but you don't care where it comes from, I am guessing USA visitors will be your biggest group.
liquiddog - The original question stated that the target market is based in New Zealand. Let's keep the discussion on that topic.
we started getting hits a few days ago from a very sudden very strong showing in "pages from the UK" and many of the terms we monitor are now at parity (or even better) now on .co.uk and .com
and no noticable falls on .com either yet.
so far its perfect... we shall see I suppose. :)
I don't want to rehost it in New Zealand but I could do that if necessary. The Google video about geotargetting says you don't need to do that though.
I guess I'll just give it a few weeks and see how it goes.