Mar 2, 2010What bias is there in Google search results to the country you are searching from? My findings are that there is not only a country bias in Google search results, but there is a regional bias. In New Zealand results from both Google.co.nz, and on Google.com as seen from New Zealand, I found a bias towards not only New Zealand websites, but Australian and UK websites!
Please see my previous articles on Geographic Targeting.
In general, country bias is shown when searching on your country specific Google - ie Google.co.nz, Google.com.au etc:
- you have a country specific domain (ie .co.nz),
- or a generic domain that is hosted in a specific country (ie .com hosted in NZ),
- or you use Google webmaster tools geotargeting for a generic domain
There is also the potential for a bias based on location WITHIN a country.
But there is not only the country bias, there is a regional bias. ie UK and AU sites having a bias on Google.co.nz searches.
I found that the UK and AU websites showing in the NZ results were not in the top 100 Google.com via proxy. This supported the hypothesis of the regional bias, since otherwise, the UK and AU websites would have been present in the top 100 on Google.com.
The following analysis relates to the competition analysis for our Terracyclic Sanitary Napkin Disposal client. And I am optimising their New Zealand Powderroom Sanitary Napkin Disposal site (website no longer available). I saw a big difference in the results on different Google searches.
Search Customisation turned off, and not logged into Google.
Top Ten for the phrase - sanitary disposal
- http://www.exeloo.com/ - hosted in New Zealand, therefore has NZ bias
- http://www.sanitarydisposalaustralia.com/ - AU bias in NZ results
- http://www.sdunit.com/ - hosted in AU, AU bias in NZ results
- http://www.sanitarydisposal.co.uk/ - UK bias in NZ results
- http://www.keyhygiene.co.uk/ - UK bias in NZ results
- http://www.jcsda.org/ - strong international website 2nd on .com via proxy
Neither the UK nor AU websites are on the .com via proxy (top 100). Therefore there must be a regional bias on the NZ results, not just a bias towards NZ websites. If there was not a regional bias, other strong US top 100 websites would have shown.
- http://www.sdunit.com/ - hosted in AU
Google.com from New ZealandTop 10 rank, and note as to whether in top 100 on Google.com via proxy
- http://www.sanitarydisposal.co.uk/ (194 via proxy) - words around first instance of search phrase repeated on over 24 other sites. Over 37 other websites that have copied the meta description. While the copies have not harmed it on this search, I suggest there is a penalty that is making it show lower on google.com via proxy.
- http://www.pinkhygiene.com.au/ - (105th via proxy)
- http://www.sdunit.com/ (96th via proxy)
- http://www.keyhygiene.co.uk/ - (101 via proxy)
- http://www.jcsda.org/ - powerful international website (2nd via proxy)
- http://www.vedder.com.au/ - (136th via proxy)
- http://www.sanitarydisposal.com.au/ - (102nd via proxy)
- http://www.sanitaryhygieneservices.com/ (UK site, hosted in US (geotargetted to UK) (104th via proxy)
- http://www.cibshygiene.com/ (hosted in UK) (139th via proxy)
- http://www.sanitarydisposallondon.co.uk/ (137th via proxy)
I consider that the mix up of rankings via proxy is due to the Fickleness of Google regarding the duplicate content penalty effect on the websites. Why should the top www.sanitarydisposal.co.uk be 194th via proxy, while 2nd and others are around 96th to 110th??? Why would others be in the 130's. The rankings don't really make sense apart from penalties.
Google.com from USA via proxy- actually, should add &gl=us to the Google search string. gl=geographic location
- www.jcsda.org - only international website powerful enough to show on NZ results
Since we can't see UK or Australian websites in the .com via USA, it supports the hypothesis that there is a UK and AU bias in the NZ results.
Other possibilities?The other possible reason could be that on Google.com, there is a USA bias. Therefore, since on say Google.com from NZ, since there is no US bias, the most powerful international websites show, and these happen to be uk and au websites?
BUT, if we test it again for another powerful phrase, ie "seo", we could safely assume that USA websites would be more powerful than both uk or au websites, and so there should be few au or uk results on Google.com from NZ.
Google.com from NZ for SEO
I consider that the au and uk websites are not as powerful as other us based websites that show on Google.com from US. Therefore I consider my hypothesis on there being regional bias seems to hold true.
What is your opinion? Do you consider there is a regional bias? What other possible reasons could there be for so many au and uk websites in the search results?
The benefits to Terracyclic and Powderroom are that once they get powerful, they have potential to have rank on Google.com.au and Google.co.uk without having to specifically geotarget their pages. However, the Terracyclic site will have geotargeting on its pages to give even more bias in the search results.
It will be interesting to watch ranking changes for their search phrases.