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How do engines know which country a site is from?


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223 replies to this topic

#1 magician

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Posted 24 May 2004 - 02:23 PM

I have just read Ian's article - Only In Canada, eh?

Now I know why my web site don't show up when I hit the Page in Canada button with Google.

Can someone refer a good reliable Canadian Hosting company please.

Don't you think that instead of using the IP adress, Google should use the registrar informations?

Thanks

#2 Randy

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Posted 24 May 2004 - 06:25 PM

Using the Whois data would be nice Magician. Except for the small fact that it is entirely too easy to totally fake that data.

I can't recommend any Canadian hosting companies. I'm sure several someone's will chime in with some suggestions though.

#3 lyn

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Posted 24 May 2004 - 09:26 PM

I've had excellent service from a small hosting company here called The Net Now (thenetnow.com).
The one downside in their service could be critical one, though. They do not provide access to log files in any meaningful way. Daily logs are added to the online Webalizer service then the log is taken off.
Apart from that, they have been fast, low cost, reliable, helpful and very quick to respond to any questions I've had.
I'm trying to talk them into better logging, though.

L.

#4 Rob

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Posted 24 May 2004 - 10:34 PM

I've had great service from superb hosting, check out www.superb.net and www.superbhosting.net. They're large, they have great customer service, plenty of plans, and they're based in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Rob

#5 mcanerin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 01:06 AM

I'm going to have to revise that article - it's not wrong, but the rules have changed a bit since Feb 2004 and I'm now recommending a difference approach to localization.

Getting a Canadian IP would be very useful, but it's not the only way to do it anymore. While at the SES in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of the reps for the major search engines. Since my questions were not really "how to spam" issues and I was a speaker, they were very helpful.

It boils down to this: Only Google uses IP address. Yahoo refuses to and so does MSN and Teoma. All of them use .ca first, then everyone but Google looks for something I had never thought of, and to my knowledge, neither did anyone else in the SEO biz (at least, if they did, they didn't tell anyone - 'cause I went looking)

There was some talk that Yahoo and Google would use the appropriate "country" areas of Yahoo and DMOZ, but that's obviously flawed (most sites are not in those). But they do use that thinking

Yahoo, MSN.ca and Teoma all look for links from Canadian directories to determine whether a site is Canadian or not. I'm not certain how many links you need, but the assumption is that if you are linked to by a bunch of Canadian directories you are probably Canadian.

I had 2 sites that I used to test geolocation both were Canadian web designers hosted in the US. One was a .ca and one was a .com. They both ranked in the top 3 for all the engines. Google *incorrectly* identified the .com as non-canadian, but Yahoo, MSN and Teoma all correctly identified BOTH as Canadian.

I was also able to check a theory I have had for awhile but was unable to fully test on parking.

The common denominator to all of them is the .ca domain now. Due to how Google handles things, it's been hard for me to just tell people to get a .ca (duplication issue + link popularity issues). But now I can recommend the following as a "best practice" (currently - naturally it can change anytime they feel like it)

Get a .ca domain and *park* it on your .com site (or just use the .ca) Once you have parked it (NOT a 301) get at least one link to the site on the .ca domain from a Canadian directory (preferably a couple of directories).

If you do this, all the reps said it "should work" and I found at least one case where it does. In this way you do not require a Canadian IP, but it won't hurt, obviously. Getting a Canadian IP may work faster than waiting for link analysis, but DO NOT rely on it - only Google uses IP, so you still have to let the others know where you are.

Hopefully that helps - I'll be writing an updated article about this shortly to avoid confusion in the future.

PS: I haven't tested it but my conversation with the reps and others leads me to believe that this is an effective tactic for UK and other geolocation sensitive areas, as well.

#6 lyn

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 06:42 AM

Ian, this kind of thing has been making me nuts for quite a while.
I have a site that has been #1 on Google and Yahoo for over a year. (Actually just slipped to $3 on Yahoo this morning.)
I read your articlce last night and checked things out again. Google does recognize the site as Canadian; oddly, it hasn't ranked most of the competitive sites on its first couple pages since the Big Change.
Over on Yahoo, the first page of listings is full of competitive sites including mine at (or near) the top. My site disappears when I switch to Canada-only listings, while all the other sites remain! (The current #2 is a text-free photo album site! :hmm: ). If I search for my domain name (which is same key word phrase without the space), a competitive .ca site shows up along with a couple of my directory backlinks!
Seems I can't even use your suggested solution because the equivalent .ca domain is already taken.
:aloha:
Meanwhile, I just keep rooting for geo tags to be adopted!

L.

#7 mcanerin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 10:30 AM

You don't need an equivalent .ca domain.

You can use a product name, a keyword-rich name, your best friend's dog's name, or a complete nonsense phrase.

It would be best to keep branding as much as possible, of course, but it would be perfectly acceptable for me to use mcanerin.com and then park internet-promotion.ca on it (if it was available). You might end up splitting some PR because of it, but I've noticed that *hasn't* been happening with Google since December for my site.

But I could also park ian.ca or alksjfhd.ca on it as well. The issue is the .ca for geolocation. The rest of it is up to you. Why not try canada-yoursite.ca? or canadian-yoursite.ca, or yoursite-com.ca or even keyphrase-yoursite.ca. Lots of possibilities.

Remember you don't have to change your whole brand, just use it the same way PPC campaigns will use a specific URL in order to test or measure ROI - it's perfectly acceptable. Every representative told me that they appreciated it when we gave the spiders hints about proper categorization - they don't consider it to be spam (though no doubt you could go overboard and spam in some way while attempting to geolocate - just like any other SEO tactic).

I really wish they would get the geolocation act together, as well. The problem is that in practice I've never had a client who said they were only interested in one city or place - they all got websites to extend their reach, not to restrict it. There is a lot of concern that using geolocation tags would restrict them. What would happen if you put your city in a geographic tag and suddenly disappeared for searches in the next city? This DOES NOT happen right now. But it's a concern for those of us trying to get a handle on the future direction of geolocation and personalization.

Currently geolocation gives you a bonus - msn.ca doesn't even offer a canadian sites only choice, it just gives a bonus to all canadian sites automatically (an early version of personalization, IMO) without you asking for it. This is very interesting to me, and a sign of things to come, I think.

Additionally, if I was a US company (wait, technically, McAnerin Networks Inc IS a US company...) and I sold/shipped products or services to Canadians and considered them to be good customers, I would make damn sure my site showed up to them.

Oh, I was also able to check to see if setting the .ca domain to resolve to a sub-directory (i.e. the Canadian section of the site) was ok - they all said no problem. So if you have a Canadian shipping information page on your site, this would be a legitimate way for a US company to have and use a .ca in a non-spammy fashion.

Ian

#8 lyn

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 11:57 AM

The people who really get hurt are the ones that are already restricted in the geographic area they can service. It's great to use the web to break out of the zone if you are selling products online. If you are providing a service in person, though, the web simply raises your profile within the territory you can serve effectively. But then, when a local search comes along, your visiblity is degraded!

Could you clarify something for me? My hosting service has servers in Toronto and somewhere south - Pittsburg, I think. The sites I'm trying to promote are on the Toronto server. I also have an older personal site that still resides on the US server, and it has a .ca domain name. If I had the host move my personal site to the Toronto server, would that be equivalent to "parking" a .ca on the domains that need help?

I'm not sure that my understanding of parking is right....

L.

#9 mcanerin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 01:26 PM

If you have a unique IP address, then parking can be as simple as just attaching both domains to the same IP, so either one gets you there.

If you don't have a unique IP, then it's slightly more complicated but not too much more. You just set the host-headers to respond to both domains. The techies on your host will understand this, usually.

What you don't want is to use some sort of frames or metarefresh forwarding.

Your personal .ca site should be considered a canadian site due to it's TLD, regardless of it's IP address or server location. If your site has it's own content, then this would not help you no matter where you put it.

If you had the domain but didn't care about the content, then you could simply have your .ca domain parked on *one* of your sites.

Parking simply means pointing two different domain names at the same website.

This is different from a redirect, which points them at different sites but one of the sites has a notification that it's been moved, either permenently (301) or temporarily (302). There are two hops, once to the domain and once to the real site. For parking there is only one hop - straight to the website.

In your specific case I would do the following:

1. Register a .ca domain for each site you are trying to promote as Canadian.

2. Use your website control panel (which almost always has a parking feature) to point the .ca domain at the current site you are promoting. They may charge you for this, but it should not be much.

3. Submit the .ca domain version to at least one good directory with a clean HTML link (ie spiderable), or ask one or more of your link trading partners to change the URL they are linking to you with. Make sure the page is spiderable and has decent PR - this is being done to help spiders so you have to make it easily digestable to them.

4. Wait for the link to be spidered and analyzed. You should then show up under Canadian sites.

Ian

#10 lyn

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 01:47 PM

Awesome.
Amazing.
Arcane.

Thanks, Ian. I'll be in touch with my hosting service.
All the best Tampa tonight!!

L.

#11 BrianR

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 06:04 PM

Ian

Thanks for your usual excellent explanation - much appreciated. Two points:

1. Be sure to let us all know when you've updated your article; and...

2. I'd request that you pin this thread, either here or in another category - it's chock full of info for us who use regional tld's all the time.

Thanks,

BrianR

#12 mcanerin

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:04 PM

Pinned! :)

I guess I'll actually have to write that article, now :unsure:

:cheers:

Ian

#13 magician

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 08:36 PM

Thanks for all the details Ian.

#14 Tonemeister

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Posted 28 May 2004 - 04:02 AM

wow, Thank god someone has sorted that out! :naughty:

I presume that I can do the same with a .co.uk domain ie:- point it at a dot com?

Change the current directory listings in the uk directories(.com) to the .co.uk url and hey presto google manages to find me in a uk search.

Or do I need to do anything else?

#15 mcanerin

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Posted 28 May 2004 - 04:20 AM

That's pretty much it :naughty: Doing that should work pretty well.

One other thing that worked well for me (purely by accident) was that in my legal notice (which is spidered and has a good PR) I mentioned both www.mcanerin.com and www.mcanerin.ca as sites that were protected by the copyright and privacy policies, yadda yadda, etc.

On the rest of the site I only use the .com, this is the only spot the .ca is mentioned.

For some reason (and I wouldn't rely on it) Google apparently considered the .ca internal link to be enough to not only show up on backlinks, but to also count the site as a Canadian site.

So if you are in a hurry this might also be an option - it's not fully tested though - I just noticed it the other day while looking for something else.

Ian




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