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Google Cloud CDN hurts my SEO

6:06 am on Jul 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Aug 22, 2017
posts: 49
votes: 3

Our English language site targets readers in India, and is also hosted in India. We keep geo target in Google Search Console in the 'unset' or 'unlisted' option, as we do get about 35% of our revenue from outside India (only 10% or so of the traffic).
We recently implemented Google Cloud CDN.
However, when we enable Google Cloud CDN, we see an immediate increase in traffic from the US, and a sharp drop in traffic from India.
We noticed that after the CDN is implemented, all traffic from Googlebot is being handled by the CDN within the US (unlike earlier, when Googlebot would be served from our Indian server).
Does this sharp drop in traffic from India and the sudden increase in traffic from the US have to do with this? Does Google now think that we are a US website, hosted in the US and therefore targeting US users?
How do I solve this problem (we are keen to have a neutral geo signature) and recover our Indian traffic?
We tried setting geo-target to 'India' in GSC, but that merely reduced our US traffic without generating (much) benefit for our traffic from India.
Do I have to deactivate the CDN service for things to go back to normal?
Does this happen with other CDNs like Cloudflare?
7:29 am on July 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 13, 2016
votes: 280

What you are experiencing is the difficulty to target several countries , and with personalized results, this getting worse with the time.

Now about CDN, the idea is to serve pages from the location the closer from the visitor, so, it's normal that Googlebot, running from the USA, reaches your site through your US CDN.

And yes, I believe that this is affecting the geo-localization of your site. Googlebot seeing your site fom a US IP, it can "help" with ranking in the US, but as a result negatively impact your ranking in India.

Be careful when you play wit hthe GSC geo-target, beacuse, it can wipe your traffic (from other countries) drastically. So it has to be manipulated with caution. Also, I always read/head that, for this option to fully take effect, it can take up to 180 days. so if you switch back and forth, this can shuffle your ranking for a while, because it stabilizes.

And talking about shuffling, the evolution of your Indian/Us traffic, might also be indirectly related from your CDN , but due to Google's recent updates.

The Solution? I have no idea. Myself, I have a site which is in English, targeting all English speaking countries, but I never succeeded to rank well for both North America, UK, and Australia for example.
9:00 am on July 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Aug 22, 2017
posts: 49
votes: 3

What I'm frustrated by is that most of my competitors who use Akamai rank very well, but not those on Cloudflare. As far as I can see, the key difference between Akamai on the one hand and Google CDN and Cloudflare on the other is that Akamai has a separate set of IP addresses for each geography, and doesn't use anycast. This may be helping my rivals tap into geolocation benefit for each of those IPs. I don't know how exactly, but I can't figure out what else could be at play here.
I sometimes wonder whether I should move my India site to a '.in' domain, even if the content remains the same. But I'm worried about the so-called duplicate content penalty. I don't know if such a penalty will apply in case of country specific websites though, after all, the two duplicate websites are targeting different geographies. I could even set up a subdomain each for India and the US, and set their targets in GSC differently. Do you think that may work? I guess duplicate content issue will still be there.

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