How does Google Determine your Website’s Location

Many SEO’s think that the current problem with the UKSERP’s is to do with Google’s ability to determine your websites location. So how does Google determine your location? Well Google uses a number of factors to calculate where you are located, the easiest way to show how is with a flow chart.

google-locationflow

So if you have a country specific domain e.g. domain.co.uk, or domain.jp the search engine knows that you are located in the country associated with the domain. No problems for the search engine as you make the decision for them, the other factors below then shouldn’t have en effect. For example this site is hosted in Ireland which is no problem for the site ranking in the UK as the site is a .co.uk domain.

If your a .com, .net, etc then Google then looks at several different factors as no country is associated with those domains. There’s a priority to these factor which is up for debate, I’ve put them in no particular order in the flowchart above but from experience it something along the lines of:

  1. Google Webmaster Tools location setting (if set)
  2. Location of hosting
  3. On page content (e.g. having UK in the title and postal address in footer)
  4. External links
  5. Address of registrar

If you think different please add your order in the comments adding any other factors.

With the current problems in the UK SERPs is this where Google is having a problem? So Google might be taking Australian and American sites and coming to the conclusion that they are based in the UK? If that was the case then they wouldn’t be ranking in their local version of Google, you can’t be based in two locations. Let’s look at an example of “conference lanyards” where www.freshpromotions.com.au a Aussie site ranks at number three in Google UK, is that the case in Google.au?

conference-lanyards-au

Yes,  so it looks like Google don’t have a geo targeting issue at this point. This theory is back up by Matt Cutts who advised in a video that they have just considered more .com website to rank in Google.

But…..

and here is the major talking point, are they doing a second geo-targeting check on the .com sites ? If they are it looks like that check at time’s isn’t making the correct decision, yes it might be letting UK based .com rank but it’s also letting foreign based .com site rank in Google UK which at times isn’t relevant.

Any thoughts? or just jiberish?

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