As Google strives to provide the most relevant search results, it is only natural that geo targeting is becoming more and more important each day. Here is how to optimize the geo targeting of a single-region site and how to effectively geo target multi-regional sites.
The following is a brief look at geo targeting for a single-region site at all stages of a website's development.
- Selecting the appropriate country-code top level domain (ccTLD) is probably the best place to start when building a website as Google will automatically make assumptions based on the TLD selected. For example, Google will automatically assume a ".ca" is targeting Canada or that a".co.uk" is targeting the UK. For a complete list of ccTLDs you should know when obtaining a domain visit http://www.domainit.com/domains/country-domains.mhtml
- In addition to selecting the country based domain, it is important to select a local server as your IP will also help determine the site's targeted region. For example if you are targeting the US but your site is hosted in Canada and has a Canadian IP, this may send signals to Google that your site is targeting Canada, not the US (this has less weight than the ccTLD and other methods but should still be considered).
- When building the site's content, make sure to mention location and contact information when appropriate. Putting a phone number, address or map will help highlight your physical location and help clarify your targeted region.
- Select the appropriate language for your targeted region. This is most effective when a language is specific to one region.
- Even if all the above have been followed, you can also directly tell Google your targeted location using the geo target option in Google webmaster tools (I will explain how to do this below).
Some of the above actions can be used for multi-regional sites (all except hosting and ccTLD) however one additional step is required to make this possible.
- Create separate sub domains or sub folders for each region and clearly state them (i.e. http://yoursite.com/canada or http://yoursite.com/ca or can.yoursite.com). Personally, I like sub folders as they all remain under the same domain.
Once the sub domains/folders have been created for each region, the correct language for each region can be applied, content can be optimized to include contact information and Google can be notified of each region's target.
Geo Targeting a Single-Region Site with Google Webmaster Tools:
Step 1: Add your site to webmaster tools via the add site tool (if not already done)
To do this, login to or create a Google webmaster account and click on the red button "ADD A SITE", input your URL, then hit "Continue".
Step 2: Click on configuration, then settings.
Step 3: Set geographic target to your desired region and hit save. That's it!
Geo Targeting A Multi-Regional Site With Google Webmaster Tools:
Step 1: Following the instructions in step 1 above, submit all regional specific sub domains or folders into Google Webmaster Tools separately.
Step 2: Follow steps 2 and 3 above for each sub domain or folder independently.
Once completed your site will be geographically optimized!
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Neil is an SEO Manager at Search Engine People & is dedicated to helping businesses increase their web presence through SEO best practices & a passion to win. You can read more of his thoughts at searchenginefocus.com