SEO Question: Does geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools help?

Webmaster ToolsThis week we’ve had a great question around Google Webmaster Tools and geo-targeting:

“I’m running a website with the Webmaster Tool geo-location set to United States – but it was by mistake. I’m getting better rankings in Google.com compared to Google.co.uk and I’ve now set the country to United Kingdom.

I want to know will it affect the rankings on Google.co.uk, if yes, how long will it take and/or what should I do to achieve better ranking in Google.co.uk?”


Google wrote a post around the above question, below is the information:

The Set Geographic Target tool in Webmaster Tools lets you associate your site with a specific region. We’ve heard a lot of questions from webmasters about how to use the tool, and here Webmaster Trends Analyst Susan Moskwa explains how it works and when to use it.

I’ve written about targeting different countries in a previous post and how Webmaster Tools can help.

Geotargeting (gTLD) – Geotargeting a domain name via Google Webmaster Tools, is a great alternative over ccTLD. Domain extensions such as .com, .net and .org are considered geographically neutral.

gTLD doamins which are treated neutral are as follows:

  • .aero
  • .biz
  • .cat
  • .com
  • .coop
  • .edu
  • .gov
  • .info
  • .int
  • .jobs
  • .net
  • .mil
  • .mobi
  • .museum
  • .name
  • .net
  • .org
  • .pro
  • .tel
  • .travel

Even the following are treated along the same lines as gTLDs

  • .eu
  • .asia

Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) – When targeting a specific country, from my experience, purchasing and using a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is one of the best strategies. If you are targeting Spain, the best ccTLD would be .es.

My advice when it comes to targeting the correct search engine language would be to use the correct domain name extension above all else. If you have a neutral domain name, geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools can help Google identify the target search engine for your website.

I’d suspect, once you have defined the correct geo-location in Google Webmaster Tools it will take between 1-3 months to starting seeing results, but that doesn’t consider any on-page or off-page SEO tactics like link building, content and so on.

To read more about search engine optimisation for different languages, countries and search engines, click here.

This post was written by , Dave is a digital marketer specialising in SEO and PPC, and can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

One Response to “SEO Question: Does geotargeting in Google Webmaster Tools help?”

  1. Chris says:

    We run a website at OneDirection.net which obviously has a neutral domain. We’ve never set any geotargeting before as we want to receive worldwide traffic, however our UK rankings are much poorer than their US equivalents.

    From what I’ve been reading lately, setting the geotarget shouldn’t negatively affect any other countries rankings, it just tells Google that you want to be associated with a particular country – when it can’t figure it out for itself (backlink locations, server ip etc).

    This week we tried setting the target to UK to try and improve rankings. Since changing it we’ve noticed better UK positions whilst the US ones have remained strong, so everything is going well so far.

    I’ve always been concerned it might hurt traffic from other countries but it doesn’t seem to be playing out this way so far. Our backlinks are very strong from the US, so thats a good reason not for our rankings to fall there.

    Still, we’ll be keeping a firm eye on our positions over the next few weeks. Fingers crossed.

    Chris.

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