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How do engines know which country a site is from?

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#121 Randy


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Posted 13 July 2006 - 08:22 PM

The US regional market is treated differently. Basically, there isn't one. So .com, .net, etc are the order of the day. And you're competing with the World, not just US-based sites.

#122 mcanerin


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Posted 13 July 2006 - 08:52 PM

There have been a few posts here since I looked last, and since I've done a bunch of real, actual, research and testing in this area (it's my specialty), I figured I'd share.

In my experience, the only concrete proof & evidence I know of regarding ability to get a website in the search results for it's correct keywords, is that optimisation works. Canada, USA, UK - it doesn't matter. Maybe I've just been lucky with websites.

Send2Paul, I read all your posts in this thread just to make sure that I understood what you are saying. I think I do, now. I believe you are saying that geolocation doesn't matter, and that simply by optimizing using local keywords (like country, city, etc) will give you local results.

Not true - or rather, it's partially true. Of course if someone types in "pizza toronto" and your page includes the words "pizza" and "toronto" in it, then that page would be a candidate for being listed, assuming all other SEO was in place. In short, you are really saying there is no difference between "pizza toronto" and "pizza spicy" - as long as the keyword is optimized for, then it should show up.

As far as that goes, you are correct. But it doesn't stop there. Local search engines (ie google.ca) will give a rankings boost to sites known to be valid to that locale, and this is what we are discussing here, not generic keyword optimization. There is no boost for having spicy pizza, but there would be one if you are a Canadian pizza place being searched from google.ca (otherwise, why have local Googles at all?).

You can see this effect simply by running a search like this (google.com):

http://www.google.co...algary law firm

and comparing it with this (google.ca):

http://www.google.ca... law firm&meta=

You will notice that one firm (obriendevlin.com) shows up in google.com but does NOT show up in google.ca (at least, not on the first page - it;s at the top of the second page for me). This can result in a huge drop in business.

If you check the site you will see that it mentions "law firm" and calgary", and of course, if it's showing up on one version of Google and optimization is the only thing going on, then why would that rank change when you switch to a different version?

You can see it's a .com, and if you check the IP and hosting here:
You will see that it's hosted in the US, and is therefore considered US, not Canadian, by Google.

Therefore, although I can agree with your specific words (that optimization matters), I do not agree with your implied conclusion (that geolocation does not).

Experiment for a while with google.com and google.ca and you will see what I mean.

No, parked domains are not duplicate content. It's one site with multiple domain names.

Jill is right, and I'd like to take this opportunity to stress that. smile.gif

If you are looking to circumvent the aging delay by parking a domain(s) it wont work.

Yes, it will.

I do it all the time, and as far as I know, I'm the original author of the technique.

I've tested it repeatedly on many domains. But you have to do it correctly (like everything else). There are some (reasonable and non-spammy/tricky) steps after this (like actually getting a few links to it, etc).

A business can legitimately change it's name without being accused of being a spammer or having to rebuild their community goodwill from scratch offline, why would you assume it doesn't work that way online?

Some other points:

.us is not localized to the USA, as far as I know. Which is too bad. It would not hurt to pick it up just in case, but I'd suggest hosting in the US. For one thing, it will avoid intercontinental lag (you website will load faster). For another, the US IP should geolocate you for Google.

NEWS: Google.com (and ONLY Google.com, not the other ones yet) now offers localized results to the USA. It accomplishes this by looking at the search phrase and comparing it to known US locations. If it finds a US location (ie Miami pizza) then it will offer localized listings. Interesting.

I'm still researching on how this affects other geolocation.

.eu is not localized to anything - treat it as if it were a .com and then use ccTLD's and other techniques like usual. In your case, theSefirah, you would still need to get some links to your site using the .ro ccTLD. If you link build only with the .eu domain, you will not give the search engine the opportunity to geolocate your site.

To be clear, the search engine must enter your site knowing it is on a .ro domain, and visit every page of your site with that .ro domain before your site is fully Romanian. This requires links pointing to your site using the .ro domain, and only relative links internally. Alternatively, you can make all of your internal links absolute and use the .ro domain, but that's not my preferred method.

I just got back from SES Latino (Miami) and did a presentation, for which I checked a lot of facts, talked to a lot of very smart and experienced people and did some more thinking on this issue. The full presentation (and other ones) can be found here: http://private.mcanerin.com/

The gist is that for location and language issues, I am currently recommending this following setup as suggested best practice:

Separate countries on separate domains


Separate Languages on separate subdomains


Note: I usually use either English or the most popular language in that country for the www subdomain (for gTLD like .com or .net, I usually use English, as well):

www.domain.com - English
www.domain.ca - English
www.domain.de - German

Separate topics on sub-directories
(unless the topic is really different from the main site and really large, like music.yahoo.com or adwords.google.com)


I hope that's helpful,


#123 Jill


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Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:16 PM

Thanks for the update and good info, Ian!

#124 DaveBeck


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Posted 13 July 2006 - 09:34 PM

Thanks Ian for the concise response.

I have also spent a great deal of time studying geolocation issues for Australian based business with a particular focus on google.com.au. Over the past six months I have seen the results become more and more "localized" on their regional domains.

All things being SEO equal it does come down to the location of your web server and gtld. I have a number of Web sites still hosted in the U.S. that are using a .com.au and ranking OK in Google Australia. I plan to move the sites to an Australian data center in the near future and will monitor the results for any significant changes.

Please keep in mind though that the main reason I will be moving the sites will be for a fairly hefty speed increase obtained from being closer to home.

About 18 months ago I moved a .info to an Australian data center and watched it shoot to the top of the serps within a couple of weeks on Google Australia.

It is vitally important to plan ahead with your infrastructure based on your target audience.

#125 harpsound


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Posted 15 July 2006 - 01:00 AM

A while back I tried parking two .ca domains on to an American hosted .com. I created the complete .com site map as .ca absolute links. Serps were confused but the .com remained non-Canadian for a month.

I tried the same trick with a second .com with the same confused results. Various domain versions in the URL but still non Canadian.

I switched the first host to a Canadian server and within a week the .com was treated as Canadian.

I immediately switched the second .com to a Canadian host and within a week it too became recognised as Canadian.

Now I am getting duplicate results, one a .ca and the other a .com going to the sister files from the same original .com site. At one point I had 4 out of 10 first page Google results going to the 2 .ca URLs plus 2 from the original .com URL. All the pages were different but they all came from the same host.

It looks spammy. Do I need to "unpark" or will google right itself?


#126 mcanerin


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Posted 15 July 2006 - 02:14 PM

It will eventually fix itself, though if you wish to speed the process up you could 301 the .com to a .ca

You post illustrates one of the problems with the parking method - it doesn't work on the site, it works on the pages.

If the spider visits page A using a parked .ca term, then that page will be considered Canadian. But if it doesn't visit page B for a while, then page B will not be considered Canadian UNTIL IT'S VISITED FROM THE .CA DOMAIN.

This can, in the short term, result in only a fraction of the pages in your site being considered Canadian. This effect is especially obvious when you have a large site with a low PR, and not many links on the .ca domain.

The speed at which is works is based on the speed Google spiders your site with the .ca ccTLD

You need to make certain that the search engine visits every single page using the .ca domain ASAP. Google Sitemaps would probably work, but I haven't tried it.

On the other hand, as you saw, the IP address is connected to each and every page automatically, so the only delay is the one where Google comes and visits the page from ANY domain.


Edited by mcanerin, 16 July 2006 - 11:43 AM.

#127 xxxlhxxx


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Posted 15 July 2006 - 04:30 PM

QUOTE(Randy @ Jul 13 2006, 09:22 PM)
The US regional market is treated differently.  Basically, there isn't one.  So .com, .net, etc are the order of the day.  And you're competing with the World, not just US-based sites.
View Post

Ok...But If I try register domain with Australian extension for example com.au ,net.au etc

I can not do it because I need ACN number (australian company number) ... Have You got idea how get AU domain?? I live in Europe and need get .au domain.

Regards, xxxlhxxx

#128 Jill


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Posted 15 July 2006 - 05:24 PM

If you don't live there, why do you need one so badly?

#129 xxxlhxxx


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Posted 16 July 2006 - 02:57 AM

I want do site about Australian country. It is my passion. And I want that my site will be appear in Australian local SEs when I thick "only australian webs" option.


#130 mcanerin


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Posted 16 July 2006 - 11:41 AM

There are 3 methods that I would consider:

1. Forget the .au ccTLD - Host in Australia (gets you an Australian IP) and do an additional linking campaign focusing on only Australian links.

2. Start an Australian company. You can get what are sometimes called "shelf" or numbered companies that are often just a number, rather than a name. This means you would have to pay taxes there, but if it's your market, model and passion, presumably it should be ok. (I pay taxes in the US for this reason).

3. Get an agent. The agent registers your domain using their ACN and acts on your behalf. I do this for Caribbean countries, for example. I used to offer this service to clients who wanted a .ca domain (it's no longer necessary, but was back in the 90's). Many SEO's and webhosts will do this for you without even thinking "agent" - they just register it for you. Make sure you have a contract that spells out who actually owns it, in that case.


#131 xxxlhxxx


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Posted 16 July 2006 - 12:10 PM

Thank You Ian for Your advice.

#132 fernimac


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Posted 18 July 2006 - 07:50 AM

I had the pleasure to meet Ian at SES Latino Miami 2006 last week and was really impressed with his knowledge. I have read all the documentation at your web and this thread through, but still have some doubts.

The site I am working on is a .info domain that has four versions in different languages. Each language is not in a separate subdirectory, but shares the same URL with a variable ?language=es, etc. that is passed with each URL to show the correct version. So, you could say that the site has 4 identical versions of the same information in four different languages. The domain is hosted in Akamai, so there are also IP issues involved (IP not static, could be a US IP now and a Chinese IP in a moment). The web contains around 100.000 pages of content for each version.

Now, this client is planning to develop country-specific versions of the content, which will be added as subdirectories. So, there will be a US-focused version of the web in a subdirectory in which most of the content will be just duplicates of the same pages from the english version, with some specific sections just for the US market. Another version for the UK market that also will share much of the english version content sith some specific British content.

From what I have read so far, I could recommend to get some ccTLDs and park them on these subdirectories to get high rankings in country specific versions of the SE's (like Google.co.uk). The links in these subdirectories should be absolute, so they all refer to the other pages with the .co.uk or the .com domain. And it would be useful to have a sitemap pointing to the main sections and pages in each country-specific subdirectory with links pointing to the co.uk or .us domain.

Anyway, my question here has to do with problems arising from the duplicate content, as I understand that we are going to have mostly the same content in the english version, the uk version, the us version or the australian version. What is your recommendation here?

Thank you, and please excuse the length of my message.

#133 mcanerin


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Posted 18 July 2006 - 10:57 AM

Hi fernimac! bye1.gif Thank you for the kind words.

Duplication isn't an issue when you switch languages, but it can be when you switch cultures or territories.

This is one of the areas I've always had issues with, since there is no "best" answer. I'll give you a few guidelines and thoughts though.

The Background

1. Duplication, by itself isn't a real issue - it's the how and why that gets you. Anyone who has written widely published articles knows this. You are not a spammer just because your work is popular and published by the more than one source.

Additionally, I work with a major pharmacy - it's flatly illegal, unethical and just plain wrong to alter the description of a drug for SEO or any other purposes. This means that everyone who sells a specific drug will have an identical information page on that drug. That's why they have to get aggressive about links - you can't mess with the content much. And trying to cheat by creating extra pages talking about the drug are really, really iffy, as well, for the same reason. Yet pharmacy sites show up all the time. The same with other sites about products that have information provided by the manufacturer (specs, etc).

2. In general, duplication issues are based around keywords and SERPs, not content. If I made two completely identical pages about "texas real estate", and then changed "texas" to "florida" for one of the pages, then the following would happen:

a ) If I searched for "texas real estate" then the page about florida would not even be a candidate, and therefore we would never get to the duplication issue.

b ) If I searched for "florida real estate" then the page about texas would not even be a candidate, and therefore we would never get to the duplication issue.

c ). If I searched for just "real estate", both pages would be candidates for ranking, and usually the one with the highest PR would win, with the other not showing at all.

4. If the pages considered duplicate were on separate but related sites, then you run the risk of one of the sites (the one with the lowest PR) not ever really showing up for anything, since Google doesn't want the same website owner being able to show up more than once in any SERP. Apparently they look at things like IP, WHOIS info, backlinks, and so forth to determine this. I can tell you they do a pretty good job of this - it's difficult to erase all fingerprints.

The Analysis

So, if you are going to have fairly duplicate content, the best place to have it either on sites not related to you at all (ie articles printed on other people's websites) or on your own website (or sub-site).

This is a problem when you want to use a ccTLD, since they usually require separate but related sites.

In most cases like yours, there are 2 types of content - first, "generic" content in generic English (usually duplicated), and second, region specific information, such as addresses, shipping information, local charitable work, region specific privacy and legal pages, and so forth.

Further, if you think about it, each region will have unique keywords connected to it - at the very least, city, state/province and country names.

The Possible Solutions

Therefore, one option is to create region specific mini-sites using the ccTLD (at least 5 pages in size) focusing on the information that is unique to each region. For general information that is the same for all sites in that language, you then link to a central .com or .info. This results in no duplication issue at all for region specific content, but your main site will not be geolocated to any more than one region.

This is my preferred method (it's the safest), but it limits the number of potential keywords you can show up for in localized results and there is an issue with needing to do a unique linking campaign to each one for maximum effectiveness.

A second option is to create a bunch of mostly duplicate directories within your website and park or 302 (not 301) the ccTLD for each region on that sub-directory then link only within that sub-directory using the fully qualified url to each page, using the ccTLD for that sub-directory.

This avoids the multi-domain dupe issue, but of course you still have an internal dupe issue. This can work well but is riskier. You want as much non-duplicate content in each sub-directory as possible.

The key in this is a focus on your keywords. Remember, not being geolocated is not the end of the world for a well made site - you can still rank number one in any locale (even ones other than your own) if your site is the most relevant site for the search.

What I would do is focus your most generic words on your most profitable region (ie geolocate the .info to the most profitable region, or the US, whichever is most appropriate for you). Then use your regional sites to capture regional traffic (which tends to convert better anyway).

I hope that helps,


Edited by mcanerin, 18 July 2006 - 11:05 AM.

#134 fernimac


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Posted 19 July 2006 - 05:12 AM

appl.gif Thank you, Ian, for your answer. I donīt want to sound flattering, but it's not so easy to come across somebody who knows so much, knows how to explain it so clearly and, most of all, is so eager to share it with others. Thank you again.

I bet this is not a black & white situation where you are right if you do this and completely wrong if you do that. As with so many other decisions in life, you have to get to some kind of compromise in which you sacrifice some aspects to obtain some benefits. Just in case it were impossible to get ccTLD's because of branding issues, CMS issues, etc., do you think that subdomains like uk.mysite.info or france.mysite.info would be the next best thing to do?

Thanks again for your kind advice.

#135 mcanerin


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Posted 19 July 2006 - 08:56 AM

Just in case it were impossible to get ccTLD's because of branding issues, CMS issues, etc., do you think that subdomains like uk.mysite.info or france.mysite.info would be the next best thing to do.

That would be a good idea from an organization point of view, and would get the "uk" keyword into the URL structure, but it would not have a direct effect on geolocation. You'd have to host it on a localized IP and get lots of local links, just like other non-ccTLD urls.


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