SEO Implications of Setting Geographic Target in Google Webmaster Tools

  • 1
  • October 31, 2007
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Google has taken an interesting step today and now allows you to specify the geographic location of your website using a form in Webmaster Tools.

If your site is targeting users within a particular geographic location, you can use our geographic target tool to provide us with information that will help improve our search results, providing greater relevancy for our users.

While this is a good move for most site owners I’m still not sure whether I should set my location or not.

People who want to feature in the “Pages from the UK” results normally have to have either a UK specific domain (eg .co.uk or .uk.com) OR be hosted in the UK with a generic domain such as a .net, .org or .com.
Now Google is letting people state their location down to street level. People with a .com site hosted in the US might actually be in the UK so if they were to specify their location it’s likely their search rankings would drop in the US and rise in the UK. Would that mean a big drop in traffic? It depends on the niche.

BlogStorm is a .co.uk and is hosted in the US. It ranks well for queries in the UK but not as well for queries in the US. Would I get more traffic by giving my address as somewhere in the US? How much would my UK traffic drop by if I converted to a US site?

My site is equally useful for people outside the UK as people in the UK so targeting an international audience wouldn’t be misleading.

Without any real answers I think I might do an experiment to take BlogStorm to a friends US address for a month or two.

Perhaps Matt might swing by with some comments on this.

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