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ccTLD Most Important Factor in Google Location Determination

Targeted a specific country? Get your ccTLD.

It’s no secret that Google uses several factors to determine where a web site is “located” and thus determine its relevance to each individual searcher. But there has been a lot of debate about which factors are most important.

The two I hear mostly commonly are if the domain has a particular country code domain name and where the web host is.

Now Google search-spam czar Matt Cutts has laid it out on the table.

One person asked a question that we forgot to make a video for: “Can you list in order of importance the things that make a site to be seen by google as a site from a particular country?” Since we didn’t make it as a video, here’s the answer as a quick bonus:
1. country code TLD (ccTLD) such as .de or .fr
2. geotargeting in the webmaster console
3. IP address

There may be other signals, but those are the biggies and the order that I’d put them in.

What those “other signals” are is unclear. Perhaps the whois information matters. But Cutt’s response verifies that the most important thing in determining what country your web site is in is the country code top level domain name. Many people also know that IDNs are good for targeted a specific language.

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    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ Kevin Murphy – I suppose language isn’t restricted to a location though. If I search in Chinese and I’m in the U.S., results would still come back in Chinese for the most part.

  1. shhhhh. says

    Many people have been collecting keyword generic cctld’s after noticing this in the search results for a while know. Still major deals in cctld to be had.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ Chandan – if you are based in the UK, you might want to us a UK host. But you’re right, and that’s probably why it’s the third factor rather than the first.

  2. Makr says

    Depends on what cctld we’re talking about. They are some like .co, .az, .al, al, .mn that correspond to US states so they are better IMO

  3. Skopje Hotels says

    What about a web sites which offer valuable content for a specific country in English but have country extensions.
    I noticed a lot of problems with a search when surfer is looking info for a hotel in some country and on the first place are big corporations which are offering a hotels deals and not unique and fresh content.

  4. jamal says

    Shoot me. I just 301 a .net domain to a .es domain that is much more brandable. Webmaster tools just states that I’m based in Spain and I can’t change it.

    I must now undo 4 weeks of work. Wish I read this BEFORE I did that.

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