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How to Gain Rankings in Country Specific Search Engines

October 2, 2008

It's no secret that Search Engines like to return results to users that are relevant to their search query.  Not only do they strive to provide the best quality results based on what a user searches for but have also begun to return results relative to the users geographic location based on both the Search Engine that they use for their query e.g. www.google.co.nz and which Country they are searching from. These quality results are what drive people to give preference to one Search Engine over another.

As a user this is great because you can be assured that your search query will bring back the most relevant websites without the need to sift through lots of results for websites that are unrelated, which was often the case before the Search Engines matured to where they are now. However, as a website owner, this can present problems particularly when targeting more than one geographic location.  How do you go about getting your New Zealand based website into search results in the US, the UK or Australia?  The answer is relatively simple but does take a commitment to ensuring that Search Engine rules are not broken in the process.

So how do the Search Engines determine what sites should be returned based on a user’s location?  Search Engines are basically programmed with information that tells them a) that a Top Level Domain (TLD) belongs to a particular Country, such as .co.nz = New Zealand, .co.uk = United Kingdom etc. and b) what Country that website is hosted in by accessing the IP address of the website. The Search Engines then apply their own algorithms which determine content of the site and where backlinks to the site are coming from – in particular the geographic location of these sites.

These four points are critical to the success of a website in Country specific Search Engine results. In summary they are:

  • Register a Top Level Domain (TLD) in the Country you are targeting.
  • Host the website associated with that domain in the Country that you are targeting.
  • Create a unique content website focusing on your target market.  In cases where you wish to have multiple websites targeting different Countries, this step is critical to ensure that you are not serving up mirror sites (sites that are the same in content) as these will quickly be banned by the Search Engines or will have duplicate content filters or penalties applied to them making success in the Search Engines difficult or impossible to achieve.
  • Build the link popularity of the website paying particular attention to websites in relevant, complimentary and on topic industries also located in the Country that you are targeting.
  • Create a Google Webmaster Tools account and set the geographic location. For obvious Country TLDs this is done automatically i.e .co.nz is set to New Zealand but for .com and .net TLDs, for example, you can select the relevant geographic location yourself.

As mentioned earlier, it is really important that you do not simply mirror your site across multiple domains. A significant amount of commitment and resource will be required to ensure your sites are significantly different from one another and focused to the Country in question.  If you are prepared to invest this time and energy then not only will you achieve good Search Engine rankings but you receive quality targeted traffic as you provide a website meeting the needs of your target audience.

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Filed under Digital Marketing

Written by

Karyn as co-founder of Apex Digital is primarily responsible for the marketing and strategic direction of the company. With over 16 years of specific experience in the Digtial Marketing field, Karyn has a wealth of knowledge in the industry and is heavily involved in product/service development for both the Digital Marketing and Website Development sides of the company.  

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