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How do engines know which country a site is from?


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#211 livingdreams_sa

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 08:19 PM

QUOTE(torka @ Nov 20 2008, 08:58 PM) View Post
Just as an FYI: the language of Brazil is Portuguese, not Spanish... smile.gif

--Torka mf_prop.gif


oh..! really? embarrassed.gif

well, they both sound same to me... sad.gif

i'll remember this, if my business ever grows across the oceans
smile.gif

#212 livingdreams_sa

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 06:12 PM

Hello everyone!

Two months passed, and I thought it would be useful to share the results here. As I mentioned in previous post, I used sub-domains for different countries. For now, I have two sub-domains (hr. for Croatia and rs. for Serbia). I still host all site, including sub-domains, in one server (probably located in UK or in USA). The SE rankings results are very good, but I am still not sure is there any local boosting.

This evening another question came up to me - does character encoding have any influence on local boosting? I've red a post on another forum, and the guy is saying following:

"
Most people in the US use this metatag:
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
I prefer to use the european characterset because I'm targetting EU and east european referrals for my english pages:
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=iso-8859-1" />
In practice the pages will look identical most of the time, but they rank better in google.ro, for example, even though my pages are in english and I'm using a US server.
"

Maybe he is wrong, because he runs a site about hotels in Turkey, and his local boosting may come from links or some other local-boosting factors?

But, if he is right, then following consideration is maybe important - I will take the Serbian language example:

There are three common character sets which can be used for Serbian language:
utf-8 (character set for Unicode, which supports almost every language in the world)
iso-8859-2 (Serbian, Croatian, Serbian, Polish, Czech and other European languages)
windows-1250 (Belarusian, Serbian, Croatian and other European languages)

So, which one to take? The answer is the one which is most specific, i.e. which describes minimum languages. Right now I am not sure is this iso or windows character set, but I think it is the windows. Anyway, I used windows character set on my site and SE rankings are good.

Conclusion: weather or not there is such thing as character-encoding-local-boosting ( biggrin.gif ), the fail-safe way is to use the most specific character set for particular language.

#213 mcanerin

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:44 PM

UTF-8 is the best character set choice in almost every case (I say "almost" out of academic habit, but I can't think of any time it would not be the best choice on a website), and is the native code used by Google. If you use anything other than UTF-8, Google translates it into UTF-8 before storing it in cache.

As for choosing a different specific character set directly affecting rankings or in any other way some sort of best practice, I strongly doubt it. Character set doesn't matter to a search engine. But language does.

Geolocation will make a difference to rankings. No doubt. Language localization will also as well, and if anything is happening here, that's probably it.

Here is how it works:

There are two declarations you can do to set the language for a page. Technical Language Declaration and Semantic Language Declaration. In order to do the job properly, you need to do both. Setting the character set is the Technical declaration. It tells the user-agent (ie your browser) what font family to use when rendering the page. Search engines don't care about this much, though they may look at it in desperation if you fail to set the semantic language declaration.

Technical declaration is setting UTF-8 or other character set. There can only be one technical declaration for each page.

Semantic declaration is setting the language of the page or a block of text. It's usually done like this:

CODE
<html lang="en">


or

CODE
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" />


This works for the whole page, but you could also do it for a section of text by using a DIV or SPAN, as well:

CODE
<DIV Lang="en">
Let us drink a carbonated beverage and sit on this chesterfield, ok?
</DIV>
<DIV Lang="en-us">
Let's drink a soda on the sofa, hey?
</DIV>
<DIV Lang="en-ca">
Let's down a pop on the couch, eh?
<DIV Lang="fr">
Buvons une boisson carbonatée et reposons-nous sur ce Chesterfield.
</DIV>


If Google has no idea what language the page is in because you failed to specify the semantic declaration (or possibly if it's clear you specified the wrong one) your rankings related to specific language searches may/will be hurt. It may try to guess based on a number of things, which could include some common words or phrases, hints from the ccTLD or the Technical declaration, and other sources. But none of these are as good as actually declaring the semantic language.

As a general rule, you can tell you have set the Semantic declaration properly if Google offers a translation for your page while searching for it in another language. No offer to translate, and it's not confident enough to try. This is usually reflected in search results, since Google doesn't like to show searchers pages that they probably can't read if they have other options available.

Best practice is to set the character set to UTF-8 (Technical Declaration) and then set the language directly (Semantic Declaration). But the Semantic Declaration is the one that will affect your language-affected search results.

Ian

#214 livingdreams_sa

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 09:01 AM

thank you for the comment and great advice!

#215 harpsound

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:08 PM

New wrinkle on an old topic

I have a website owner has a local .ca site in her name - janedoe.ca - places top 10 for local important kw.
It is a spirituality website.

She wishes to park a second domain to the homepage for a project of a global international nature.
She has found an ideal domain (similar to) u-are.us where the "us" is you or me and not meant to be USA denoting (in her estimation).

If I park a .us onto a .ca what happens?
The local nature is important.
It is preferred that the .us domain be treated as a .net but that is not available.

I would prefer to use a different .net but JaneDoe really wants u-are.us

Any suggestions or thoughts?

S

#216 headquarters

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 02:05 PM

QUOTE(torka @ Jan 18 2006, 03:54 PM) View Post
Okay, I'm not Randy or Ian, but in the traditional tag-team moderating we tend to do around here, let me jump in and see if I can muddy the waters further... smile.gif

Basically the physical pages -- the actual files that you've uploaded to your web server -- can be reached through both domain names.

So you can write the links on your pages to use either domain.com or domain.ca and they'll still go to the same physical file.

So, you set up some internal links on your site to use the full http://www.domain.ca/pagename.html type link, and the SEs will see that these pages are available through a Canadian TLD, and are therefore, presumably, Canadian-oriented pages.

With any luck, they'll then recognize the site as a Canadian site. Even though you still use the .com domain in the everyday course of business, and most (all?) of the external links still point to the .com domain name.

--Torka mf_prop.gif


I have the .com site and it's enjoying high rankings on world search. (but we have international and local customers, so I've acquired matching ccTLD.)

I am parking cctld on the .com and I will get local external links directed to cctld version.

I know how to set up the internal links, but I have some questions about them please:

1) I consider my whole site's current content to be both of international interest and local interest. I don't have any pages that would be better candidates to make or not make into geo-specific pages. My whole site is of full interest to a local person as much as it the whole site is of full interest an international visitor. I point that out because you've indicated to set up some of the internal links on the site so that they are available through the ccTLD, and therefore are presumably, home country oriented pages. My question is this: Can I set up [b]all[/b] of the internal on the sight so that they are available through th ccTLD, or would there be any concerns with this such as dropping rank with .com version in world wide searches due to "overdoing geolocation internal linking" for instance?

2) I have different servers for the .com and ccTLD. The uploaded physical pages will have to be uploaded twice; one set to each server so that as you put it, the physical pages can be reached through both domain names. Will it be a problem to upload duplicate pages of the entire website to the .com server and then also to the ccTLD server? (eg. duplication concerns, or does the parking alleviate the duplication concerns?)

3) It may be that all I need to do is pick a select number of pages to become "the local" pages within the site and set up internal links for those pages only to be available through the ccTLD. My question, if I were to go this more limited and "non-greedy internal linking route", would the content on the pages of the .com version of the site that are not available via internal linking through the ccTLD, eventually get indexed for home country specific search results anyways? In other words would the spider be tipped off by the handful of pages that are internally linked to be available through the ccTLD, that the site is home-country oriented and therefore proceed to index it in its entirity - thereby boosting local SE results and rankings without risking any .com ranking demotions.

Thank you,

headquarters

#217 Randy

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 08:26 AM

First I would look into whether the .ca is actually necessary.

Each market is different and each site is different, but for my sites at least they tend to rank pretty well in the international versions even though they're .com and hosted in the US. Sometimes they rank better in the international versions than they do in the worldwide versions! I suspect this is mainly due to the fact that my sites tend to attract links naturally, so have attracted some links from sites that are in fact .ca (or .co.uk or .com.au, etc) geo located. And of course because my targeted search phrases are considerably less competitive in these regional engines since my competition apparently doesn't attract links the same way my sites do.

In other words, you might want to check to see if you actually have a problem to fix before you start trying to fix it.

The problem being this can be a little difficult to ascertain if you're not in those countries. To be absolutely certain you almost need to either find someone in those countries you want to target to do some search research for you. Or find yourself a proxy IP that maps to the country in question so that it looks to the search engines like you're arriving from that country.

Another way you can sort of tell is to dive into your web stats to see if you're getting a decent amount of traffic from those other countries. Though don't expect it'll equal US based traffic because it probably won't quite make it to that level.

Or, something I've discovered recently, if you're concerned mainly about Google and your site happens to be php I released a little tool a few days ago I've been tinkering with the last couple of months that pulls some information from Google's new referral url structure. The tool is still Alpha at this stage, but it'll pull the information. I just need to find some time to build a front end to help sort through the information to make it a bit more useful. Or hope someone else will find the time to add a a front end. lol.gif I'm hoping someone will port it to ASP and other languages as well since I know I'm not going to find the time to do that kind of thing. Though for something like what you're talking about (geo stuff) it would be a pretty simple MySQL statement to pull the info you need. I've done it several times with my test bed sites the tool is active on.

I've coined the tool Google Rank Extractor. More info and the download is available on my personal blog if you want to give it a whirl. (Yes, it's a freebie that's release under a GPL license.)

Now on to your questions in case you've already sorted out that you have an issue that needs to be addressed.

QUOTE
1) I consider my whole site's current content to be both of international interest and local interest. I don't have any pages that would be better candidates to make or not make into geo-specific pages.


This statement would lead me to believe that you don't really need to do the type of geo targeting you've asked about. If the site is genuinely worldwide why would you want to even attempt to start geo targeting? I mean you'd literally have to do it for every country and region out there. Or at least all English speaking regions. That seems like a lot of work for very little potential benefit.

QUOTE
1 cont) Can I set up all of the internal on the sight so that they are available through th ccTLD, or would there be any concerns with this such as dropping rank with .com version in world wide searches due to "overdoing geolocation internal linking" for instance?


I wouldn't recommend this. Your .com will end up suffering in the rankings because by your internal navigation you're basically telling the search engines that the entire site is ccTLD in nature. And you'd be orphaning your already indexed and ranked .com pages because there is no 301 redirect in place.

QUOTE
2) I have different servers for the .com and ccTLD. The uploaded physical pages will have to be uploaded twice; one set to each server so that as you put it, the physical pages can be reached through both domain names. Will it be a problem to upload duplicate pages of the entire website to the .com server and then also to the ccTLD server? (eg. duplication concerns, or does the parking alleviate the duplication concerns?)


That's not really a problem, regardless of whether the ccTLD is parked on top of the .com or if it has its own local server. The search engines will see it as duplicate content, but there is no duplicate content penalty so they'll simply display the version that's most appropriate for each individual user. In practice this usually means the Perfect World scenario would have the .ca pages would show up for Canadian searchers while the .com would show up for US and worldwide searchers.

QUOTE
3) It may be that all I need to do is pick a select number of pages to become "the local" pages within the site and set up internal links for those pages only to be available through the ccTLD. My question, if I were to go this more limited and "non-greedy internal linking route", would the content on the pages of the .com version of the site that are not available via internal linking through the ccTLD, eventually get indexed for home country specific search results anyways?


As you've laid out the question this would certainly be a more measured approach. One that would allow you to do a little testing to see if it's really necessary to spend so much time and expend so much effort on the international rankings for your site. You may in fact find out that it's not worth it for a variety of reasons, possibly including that your .com pages are already ranking quite well in those international circles.

Again, given the scenario as you've laid it out I would suggest first trying to find out if it's really a problem you need to address. Because if it's not your time could be better spent on other efforts.

#218 Jill

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 09:11 AM

QUOTE
In other words, you might want to check to see if you actually have a problem to fix before you start trying to fix it.


Sage advice that we should pin somewhere at the top of the entire forum!

#219 headquarters

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 12:12 AM

Thanks Randy!

I only have one geo ccTLD that I want to add and it's because the comprehensive keyword copy in the bowels of the text of the extensive .com site is not getting indexed anywhere near as much in the SE country specific searches. So as I park this single ccTLD to the .com, get some country specifc directory links coming in, and set up a limited number of pages with internal ccTLD-inclusive url links, I'm wondering if the extensive keyword copy on the non-internally ccTLD-inclusive linked pages of the .com site will get indexed as extensively and thoroughly for my-country-pages-only searches. I'll go ahead with things as I understand it now and see how things develop . . .

Thank you,

HQ

#220 mountainbound

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 07:08 AM

I've been reading through the above posts and would like to start back to basics...

1. I have a .com site hosted in the US. Seems like I get a fair amount of international traffic. Is it safe to assume that the site is global (I noticed that the terms "international version" and "global versions" are being used differently by Randy) and being reached worldwide?

2. Also, if I have optimized for terms in English, how does that affect Google rank in say, India, Canada, or the UK? Should I be considering purchasing .in, .uk, .ca domains? How about non-English speaking countries?

My understanding was .com was the global stage, and country extensions were more localized.

#221 Randy

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 09:43 AM

Today most of the regional or international search engines default to search globally mountainbound. Though the search engines are also doing a fair amount of localization on the back end in a more hidden manner. That's why when you search for a service that has a local supplier you're more likely than ever to see that local supplier listed in the top 10 when someone searching from a different location doesn't see them at all.

The answer depends a good bit upon what your specific situation and specific goals.

Here's the way I've always viewed it. If a business has a physical presence in a certain country and has a marketing plan to target users in that country, then having the regional domain name probably makes sense. On the other hand if the business sells everywhere but doesn't specifically target individual countries/regions, then it's probably best to work on the .com version. The latter is what I do 99% of the time. For sites where there are no shipping costs involved I average around 30-35% of my sales coming from non-US locations. For sites where something has to be shipped they can usually get it cheaper from a local vendor, or the shipping costs are simply prohibitive.

#222 mountainbound

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 12:10 PM

Thanks Randy. I don't think we'll be investing in a .uk or .in version of the site any time soon. What then of localized keyphrases? If Google in the UK is serving our .com site and industry keyphrases are slightly different, is there a way to show alternate title tags?


#223 Randy

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 03:17 PM

That's a difficult one at best mountainbound.

Can you perform some geo location analysis to deliver customized content for users in different countries? Yes you can. (Make sure to give the user the option of choosing to opt out though.)

The problem is that all of the major spiders are going to visit your site from US based IP numbers. So your altered content doesn't actually appear for them.

That's why some have taken to producing country and/or language specific versions of the same pages then slapping those into either a subdomain or subdirectory. Of course you need to also make sure the spiders can get to those pages to have any possible effect on SEO.

#224 mountainbound

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 03:13 PM

QUOTE(Randy @ Oct 27 2009, 03:17 PM) View Post
The problem is that all of the major spiders are going to visit your site from US based IP numbers. So your altered content doesn't actually appear for them.

That's why some have taken to producing country and/or language specific versions of the same pages then slapping those into either a subdomain or subdirectory. Of course you need to also make sure the spiders can get to those pages to have any possible effect on SEO.

Thanks for your response and sorry for the long silence...

I'm taking your advice and have gone the sub-domain route: uk.mycomp.com, india.mycomp.com, mea.mycomp.com, etc. These are sites with essentially the same content as the US site www.mycomp.com. Basically I resell several partner products which contractually can't be sold in different countries, so the plan was to create a way to direct people to a version of the site where they can only see products that are purchasable to them in their location.

A.We intend to have a GeoLocation portlet direct users to the appropriate regional site based on their country of origin.
B. We'll have a cookie so future visits would automatically place them in their 'preferred' site.
C. There will be a selector which would allow visitors to select their region and prompt them for validation.

I am hoping to bank off of good US rankings to enable international customers to find us, and then let the geoportlet do the work in sending them to the correct site. Is this a valid assumption? I understand that there's no duplicate content penalty, but am I at risk for being perceived as running affiliate sites, or committing any other SEO no-nos? *cringes*




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