Web marketing to different countries

Author -  Vaughan Reed - Managing Director & Web Strategist

Does Google Prefer Different Sites for Different Countries?

In a nutshell – yes!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people prefer localised websites i.e. those with a domain name indicating its localness, and even more importantly, content tailored to their needs and their way of thinking. 

People certainly prefer sites in their native language, but it also applies within languages too. For example American English differs from UK English which differs from Australian, which differs from New Zealand. It’s not hard to quickly think of differences – RV’s or Recreational vehicles are camper vans or Kombi’s depending on the country, nappies and diapers, off road vehicles vs. 4x4 vs. 4wd’s etc.

So, with that in mind, consider Google’s primary search aim – to provide the most relevant information to the searchers enquiry. It naturally follows then that Google does indeed prefer localised sites and if you are serious about achieving good search engine performance in different countries, you will have to seriously consider separate sites for separate countries.

How to set up multi regional websites

The key thing to consider is the type of domain name you're going to use.There are 2  main types of domain name:

  • Country Code Level Domain’s (CCTLD) for example www.name.co.nz or www.name.com.au etc. It’s very clear  from these to Google and to us humans that these sites are geared up to servicing that country
  • The other type of domain name is the Generic Top Level Domain (GTLD). Examples include .com (global), .org, .net,.tv . As you can see, the domain names themselves don’t denote a specific country, even though the content might.

To achieve optimum search engine results performance within different countries it therefore makes sense to use CCTLD’s for each country being targeted, and content tailored specifically for that market.

Incidentally, despite many people saying otherwise, as far as Google is concerned, it is not necessary to physically host a site in the country you wish to target. Having said that, each country has it’s own specific laws and protocols regarding the internet and it’s possible that some may require you have to have a company registered there. It pays to check this out before hand. 

If you think you will need to go down the multi-site route, consider adopting a platform that has true multi-site abilities so that control can be centralised whilst the marketing performance is optimised for each geographically separated target audience.

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