How does Google Geographic Targeting work??? There is a new Google webmaster tool that allows you to Geographically target your website to users of a particular country, or area within that country.

Google - Geographic Target Tool, and locations within a country.

and more specifically when you are logged into Google webmaster tools

quote=when logged into webmaster tools…]Some sites target users for a particular geographic location. For example, a site may target all users within a specific country, or it may target only those users who reside within a very small geographic area within that country.

If your site is targeting users within a particular geographic area, please provide us with the relevant information below, using only the fields that apply to your target audience.

Users location, not search phrase

This is focussed on where the users are surfing the web from, not the search phrases that people are searching for.

How Google’s targeting has worked till now

Google still uses the following, however, the specific webmaster tools geotargeting is additional.

  • A country specific domain name can be hosted anywhere, and a bias is attached to it for the search results in that country - ie searched for on
  • A generic domain ie .com, .info, .net, .org… has to be hosted in a specific country in order to get the bias on that countries search results. ie hosted in the uk gets a bias given to it in the search results.
  • A country specific domain can not get two countries bias’s attached to it - ie can’t have a hosted in Australia, and get both New Zealand and Australia bias attached to it.


A website can not select another country to target. New Zealand is specifically set. You can however, select a street address, city/town, state, or zip code.

A generic domain can set the country it wants to specifically target. It does not have to be hosted in that country. This is a major advantage over what has been the case till now where you have had to be hosted in that country.

There is a certain bias attached to a country specific domain/hosting. It is uncertain as to how much bias will be attached to a country selection on the Google webmaster tools. This is certainly a risk until more data is able to be gathered.

Examples of country bias - rankings for the phrase “search engine optimisation” (7 November 2007)

  • (NZ sites only) - 1st
  • - 2nd website
  • - 13th
  • ? (from USA IP address) ? 27th (but the USA use ?z’)
  • ? 16Oct07 110th, now 166th
  • ? 16Oct07 253rd, now 477th
  • ? 16Oct07 21st, now 19th (note the French equivalent phrase is “referencement”)

What does the above tell us?

  • in the last month, the country bias has grown stronger.
  • very evident that there is a country bias, especially with a search phrase as competitive as “Search Engine Optimisation”.
  • I would be kidding myself to think that I could get SearchMasters top 10 on for the search phrase.

Use of subdomains for generic domains

A subdomain is a separate property in its own right. You are able to select a different geographic target for each subdomain (I have verified this on one of my own sites subdomains).

  • This means that you are able to have (targeted to the US). (targeted to New Zealand), (targeted to Australia) etc.
  • Subdomains in general do not have the same sandbox associated with a new domain.
  • Subdomains have some of the power of the main domain given to them, although they need links in their own right, as they are a separate property.
  • make sure that you don’t have too many links between any two sites/subdomains. Otherwise Google may consider you to be one site, especially if there are the same search phrases between the different subdomains. I use rel=nofollows for links between the websites to keep them separate.
  • make sure that the content is different on the subdomains. ie different words around the search phrases for starters. Then reword the content within your pages.