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Google .co.uk vs Google .com 50 difference

     
4:43 pm on Aug 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi, For several weeks, my partner's website has dropped on Google.com to 50+ for its major search term (but not all search terms). (it was between 10-12 for months on .com) It has remained between 4-7 on Google.co.uk for 2-3 years. (The website is about 4 years old)

It is a co.uk domain and is hosted in the US. There are several other .co.uk sites on page 1 of Google.com serps; they also appear in similar positions on co.uk.

Any suggestions what is likely to be causing a .com drop of 50+? A penalty perhaps?

[edited by: tedster at 6:02 pm (utc) on Aug. 15, 2009]

7:05 pm on Aug 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It's always tempting to look at a penalty when rankings fall - and I'm very wary of saying any situation is not affected by a penalty. However, it does seem that recently Google made it harder for ccTLDs to rank on Google.com.

As long as a .co.uk site ranks well on google.co.uk, I'd pretty much assume there's no true penalty. Unless, of course, your partner has been "pushing the envelope" in some way. In that case, maybe a penalty first showed up on google.com and will soon be exported to .co.uk

8:57 pm on Aug 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Same here - we have a .co.uk which has ranked no.1 on google uk for its prime two word search term for at least 6 months, prior to that in the top 3 for over a year. On google.com we have been ranking on page 1 consistently and more recently at position 4.

Today .... on google uk we're at #3 and google.com .... #80 ouch! There's another, well established .co.uk ranking fourth on google.com, they were at #5 behind us until today.

Tedster, is this consistent with what you've seen re ccTLDs on google.com?

11:01 pm on Aug 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like it. Maybe the geo-location of backlinks has shifted as a factor for cTLDs on google.com SERPs. Just a guess here, no data suuport so far.
8:49 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That sounds like an avenue to explore, however the link profile for the site in question is biased in favour of .com sites rather than .co.uk sites so not sure this is the reason. Also, the search term it has dropped to page 8 for doesn't have the highest frequency in terms of backlink profile anchor text - even though its the primary keyphrase. The site is still ranking highly on google.com for secondary phrases with a higher anchor text backlink count, as well as the primary two word phrase with a third (modifier) word added (page 1 with 3 mini site links!). Also, there's still another .co.uk site on the first page of Google.com results, they haven't moved.

Being objective about it, the home page is a bit over optimised for the two word primary phrase now appearing on page 8 on Google.com. Is that enough to cause a drop of 80ish places? What other avenues could we be exploring to determine the cause do you think?

Gemini23 - is your partners site still suffering It would be useful to compare notes ...

9:11 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I really don't like co-incidences but we have recently 're-launched' the website in order to have a more structured inner-link-matrix (that isn't the right terminology but my brain hurts after a long day!) Fewer images and hopefully better optimised. The site has gone from 50+ to 37 on .com and 6 (no change) on co.uk. The website is a co.uk BUT is hosted in the US and also has a mix of inbound links from UK and US.
9:23 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, how long after you you re-structured did it start moving up? Did you tweak main keyword use in the body copy at all? When you say fewer images - were you using the main phrase in image alt text before? I assume by inner-link-matrix you mean internal page links to and from the home page (and other pages). Have you reduced the use of the main phrase in these anchor texts, and/or used similar semantically related phrases instead? Sorry about all the questions after a long day, but I'm sure you understand ...!
10:38 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi, just off to bed and away on holiday tomorrow...
within 7 days site has moved... (may just be a co-incidence - but!)
keywords not changed, main phrase not changed in images, internal page links and a better internal navigation was the main update - I will post again IF (hopefully when) the .com page moves any more..
11:08 pm on Aug 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Cheers - have a good break. Would be interested in progress after you get back.
9:54 pm on Aug 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if anyone could explain the following (ref my post #3973022 above)?

Doing a broad search on google.com for the two word primary search term still results in a rank of 77 - yippee we've improved by 3 places in the last 24 hours :-) - whilst doing a phrase search (using quotes) for the same two word search term results in the site appearing at position 6, close to where it started from 48 hours ago ... any clues anyone?

7:09 pm on Sept 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Feedback is... went to about No. 17 on dot com.. now back to 51...
9:19 pm on Sept 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Okay, given that this may be a geotargeting cTLDs factor - what is the best way forward?
If one is an artist of Widgets and Widgets are found worldwide... and the target market is worldwide... (okay hindsight maybe a .com domain would have been better - but the goalposts seem to have moved from a few years ago)
Is it feasible to add a US or .com geotargeted subdomain or folder? or better to create a new domain and start again?
9:33 pm on Sept 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If you want to reach a global audience, one of the international TLDs is the best way to go. I doubt that a /US/ directory will cure what ails your site.
11:08 pm on Sept 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Tedster, the .com variation of the domain is already owned and 'redirects' to the cTLD .co.uk which has the content. What would be the best way to resolve that? Put the content on the .com and 'redirect' from the co.uk.? or some other suggestion?
12:52 am on Sept 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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You'll need to study the situation closely to make that decision. A lot will depend on whether there are many direct backlinks to the .com, and how much the current good rankings rely on backlinks to the .co.uk version.

When a 301 is reversed in direction, that has be known to tangle Google up for a significant time. So you might end up with even less traffic for several months. It would be important that the 301 go from precise url to its exact counterpart, and not just from domain to domain.

I have never tried the Change of Address form within Webmaster Tools, but I have heard good reports that it accelerates the changeover. However, none of those reports involved a 301 direction reversal.

There is also the possibility of serving both domains at the same time. That's a potentially worthwhile experiment, and a resolution that several Google reps have mentioned in the past. But in that case you may still have something like the backlinks challenge I mentioned above: without any 301s coming from the .co.uk you may have low, low rankings for the .com domain if most of the backlinks currently point to the .co.uk domain.

I strongly recommend that you analyze the current situation very closely before you make any leap.

4:09 pm on Sept 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If you add UK to the term ie if the term is <<blue widget>> does <<blue widget uk>> bring the rank back.

I have some terms that had/have this symptom. I'm still trying to understand what the issue is so I can't suggest solution if you have the same disease but it might help you narrow down what needs to be done to provide a solution.

Cheers

Sid

7:43 pm on Sept 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hissingsid - tried what you suggested on our site and yes, back to number 2 on google.com when I add in <uk> to the original two word phrase.

For what its worth, since my last post we've eliminated the phrase from the page title, reduced the frequency in the content and introduced a semantically related term on the page. Rank on google.com went from #77 to #46 for a day and then to #67 (still short of the original #4 but better than the original drop to #80). Up from #3 to #2 on google.uk. I'm beginning to think its an over-optimisation problem so we'll be experimenting in this direction a bit more. I should add that unlike Gemini, our site is hosted in the UK.

6:28 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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@cav609 You're saying is by adding UK in your target anchor text you've risen in the rankings in the google.com?
9:22 am on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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samgemini,

I'm sure that is what he is saying and I can confirm that this works for a number of terms that I follow. Also some sites get mini site links in their listing on google.com when UK is added to the term.

I think that Google.com results served to the UK have a geo-filter applied but this is definitely not the same geo-filter as that applied to google.co.uk results served to the UK or at least there are other filters or algo factors applied on google.co.uk.

Cheers

Sid

PS At the moment, for the past 5 days the UK filters on google.co.uk do not seem to be working too well.

2:25 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I do not think cav609 is talking about adding "uk" to his target anchor text.

What I understood cav609 is saying is that appending word "uk" in google.com search box when searching for his primary search term makes his domain rank #2 on google.com, whereas without word "uk" in the google search box his domain ranks at #80+

3:17 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That's what I was trying to say. Perhaps I didn't express myself very well.

Cheers

Sid

PS I think someone has hijacked my forum ID this HissingSid is far too nice.

5:07 pm on Oct 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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samgemini - its uk appended to the search phrase, not anchor text. Never did get to the bottom of why that worked, other than we are hosted in the uk and its a .co.uk site.

As it happens, in the last 3 days 95% of our keywords are now pretty much back to where they were a couple of months ago when all this nonsense started. Whilst we've de-optimised some on-page elements I'm convinced this has had nothing to do with our bouncing back (for now at least!) and everything to do with either/or, caffeine rollout / SERPS rollback / a combination of the previous two / algo change in combination with the previous two / or a drunk engineer at Google playing games / the previous option in combination with the first two options. ie, I have no idea ...