Google.com rankings vs Google.co.uk – Localisation Action Plan

by oskarokupa on November 17, 2008

Working on International SEO projects on a regular basis makes you realize how complex search can be sometimes and the number of subtle nuances that challenge your SEO knowledge and fundamental day in and day out. At the end of the day we are trying to figure out a huge mathematical equation (search engines algorithm) without knowing the variables, and all we can do is to test and hypothesize.

For numerous clients sites that have been trying to address a more international audience we have discovered that disparities of rankings between Google.com and Google.co.uk are very common, even if the sites in question have a British IP address. Ranking better in Google.com for sites hosted in UK is a kind of glitch not unusual and traditionally UK sites have been disappearing inappropriately for Google.co.uk top rankings in benefit of Google.com. The algorithms are slightly different and the language commonalty doesn’t help. There is an interesting case of a .co.uk site about a small village in England that ranks much better in Google.com than in Google.co.uk despite the neutral domain code termination (.org) . After a deluge of complaints from British webmasters about this, Matt Cutts from Google had to lay out an official response that underlined the importance of the local domain.

We expererienced this very problem with a B2B client that was ranking very highly for very (VERY) competitive keywords in Google.com and nowhere near the top 50 in Google.co.uk. Being a company based in London, that was certainly hurting their revenue and they couldn’t work out why, since the domain (although a .com) was hosted in UK.

We suggested a few guidelines and a two-pronged strategy consisting of on-page/site wide additions and off-page tactics. We predicted that those changes would affect the geo-targeting in a reasonable period of time but the tactics took a while to make an effect. It is likely, and there is a buzz in Google groups about it, that google is working on tweaking their G-UK algo to fix this problem but we shouldn’t count with it.

On site suggestions

1. Use an address within the country . Register to local business center. The caveat is that the client didn’t have a physical location in UK. We suggested to use the location of their virtual office in Central London as a point of reference.

2. Use localised meta-data  for country, language and geographical location on the site pages:
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”EN-GB”>
<meta name=”country” content=”United Kingdom”>
<meta name=”geo.country” content=”GB” />
<meta name=”geo.position” content=”51.52171-0.14228″ /> The 51.52171-0.14228(latitude;longtitude)
<meta name=”ICBM” content=”51.52171-0.14228″ />

These meta tags haven’t proved to be necessary to geolocalise sites but it was worth trying.

3. Use HTML address tags in the site pages. The content in the address tag will show up on the page .

<ADDRESS>Client address.<BR />
London Post Code, United Kingdom.</ADDRESS>

Again there is no conclusive evidence of this making a difference but some people had reported good results so it was worth trying.

Off-site suggestions

We analysed thoroughly the client linking profile and found out that only less than a hundred unique .co.uk domains were linking to the site out of the 15000 links that Yahoo indexed. Having more links from UK based sites should logically improve rankings for Google.co.uk as well as reinforce localisation.  We launched a specific link building campaign targeting UK sites and using anchor text with “UK” as the very first keyword. f.e “UK [client niche] services“.The idea was to emphasize the location, UK, to see if that could have an impact on geolocalisation issues.

Conclusions

After a few months the site was ranking for 68 new entries within the top 200 results, improvements in almost all the main keywords of rankings for Google.co.uk and an increase of 130% more traffic coming from Google with respect to the previous year. It is hard to say which of all these changes had a more significant impact but in our opinion submitting to Google Maps is a must in order to improve local search and geolocalisation issues and the impact of local links can’t be overlooked either.

Any additional ideas you could add in order to fix geolocalisation issues in your local search engines results?

If you have any question contact me on twitter on http://twitter.com/oscarcarreras

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jewell August 30, 2014 at 3:59 am

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http://resdermatrolfreetrial.tumblr.com July 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm

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David Nguyen May 20, 2011 at 2:11 am

Hi

Just one question, in the meta tags:

Can I do something like:

??

Reply

David Nguyen May 20, 2011 at 2:12 am

meta name=”country” content=”United Kingdom, New Zealand etc” ??

Reply

How to Find Your Niche December 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

It is true that working on International SEO projects on a regular basis makes you realize how complex search can be sometimes and the number of subtle nuances that challenge your SEO knowledge and fundamental day in and day out. This post can help SEO specialist.

Reply

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