SEO Geo-location, domain names and servers

After a client queried the benefit of where the server is located in terms of SEO, I’ve done some research that I thought I’d share with you all.

The background to this is that the client wants to get into foreign markets (France, Germany, Italy). To do this they wish to create translations of their existing website. They have been advised that each website should have it’s own TLD (top level domain such as .fr, .uk, .de) and that the site should be hosted on a server in the relevant country.

This poses some immediate problems. Firstly, you need to have 4 separate hosting accounts, with 4 separate websites. This means you have 4 times the amount of work to maintain, which is not a good use of anyone’s time.

In general I’m talking about Google here, but I’m assuming that most SE’s work the same way. Google does indeed look at both the TLD and the IP of the website. The TLD will (should) take precedence over the IP. This makes sense if you think about it as many companies use cheap american hosting to host their UK websites. However, in the instance where you have a non-country specific TLD such as .net or .com, Google would look at the IP.

Thankfully in Google Webmaster tools you can associate a .com/.net with a specific country. So you could have the following setup:

(also used on sites like Nike.com)
http://www.client.com/fr associated with French content
http://www.client.com/de associated with German content

to go one step further you could setup sub-domains

http://fr.client.com
http://de.client.com

To do this, you would need to add several entries to your Google Webmaster account, which is easier than setting up lots of sites/hosting etc.

Ultimately, you don’t specifically need 4 sites to run 4 different language versions, just a way of assigning the relevant content to the relevant search. It should also be noted that this only effects ‘show me search results only from the uk’ searches. I’d reiterate that the most important thing for any of these sites is getting country specific inbound links. Without that you’ll get the same old problems.

How do I implement this on a Joomla site?

I’ll tell you in my next article.

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