Geo-Targeting Organic Google Placements

Monday, January 28, 2008
Posted by Jim Hedger @ 10:27 am

Google maintains country-specific search results for almost all major nation states. Google France, Google UK and Google Canada, for instance, each have separate domains (, and and each gives specialized placements to web documents directly relating to each nation. That’s why a search on “Tax Forms” performed in Toronto will reference Revenue Canada while the same search conducted 150km south in Buffalo will reference the IRS.

The reasons for producing country-specific results are obvious. They make search simpler for the users. For webmasters however, country-specific results can sometimes be disappointing as those with .com TLD’s (top level domains – ie: .com, .net, .ca) doing business in France, England, Canada and other places outside the United States can attest. While one might have great products or services to offer, consumers located nearby may very well never find them while performing a search on a country-specific engine. Their counterparts with TLDs corresponding to their nation of origin often get a slight bump up in the rankings based solely on their TLD.

That might change in six to eight weeks if a new initiative from Google Webmaster Central works as well as non-US based webmasters hope it will. Google now offers webmasters the ability to indicate which country the website originates in, regardless of the registered TLD. That means a Canadian (or other non-US based) businesses can now register a .com domain name without risk of losing positioning in Google results specific to their own countries. Previously, non-US based businesses would often purchase domains under the nation specific TLD and the .com TLD.

Webmasters are urged to test and use the feature with caution for the time being until others, through trial and error, find and confront the SERP anomalies certain to stem from the change. An example offered at SearchEngineRoundtable says, “… if you have a .com and a .fr or something else, it can hurt you not to use the select geotarget feature. Why? Because the .com can begin to automatically be set by Google to do well only in the country specific results and then the .fr will be overshadowed by the .com. The only way around that, in these cases, appears to be to set the .com for US and the .fr for France, as an example.”

More on this feature after we’ve had a few weeks to mess around with it.


  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you

    Comment by SEO — Monday, February 4, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

  2. Hi there. Can you indicate to Google that your site targets more than one country? E.g. US, UK, and Australia. (I have a .com)

    Comment by Richard — Wednesday, February 6, 2008 @ 1:48 am

  3. Humor Religion…

    Google Answered my Question Pittsburgh SEO Group responds:…

    Trackback by Humor Religion — Sunday, September 28, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  4. 1Prank…

    comScore is out with their German search engine rankings for May 2008. Google picked up another 1. 5% share from the previous month, moving them to just over 80% of the German search engine market. That’s a staggering number. eBay is the second most p…

    Trackback by 1Prank — Monday, November 3, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  5. Now if only there was a way to geo-target for organic traffic by zip code like in adwords – google lets you basically choose a circle around a location, say 50 miles, and only advertise in that area via adwords.

    Comment by estate planning attorney — Monday, April 13, 2009 @ 11:16 am

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