As mentioned in our previous post about how to choose a SEO friendly domain name, there are many aspects of site optimization that have to be considered before starting a successful online project. We have already shared some tips on how to choose a SEO-friendly domain name. Now let’s move to another aspect of the website optimization. Throughout today’s article we will concentrate on the SEO effect that a host country has on your domain name/ website. Very often we are asked if a server location matters and if it does, how it can affect SEO rankings. In other words: Does hosting in one country while trying to rank in another affects the search engine presence of your website? Our answer is yes and still depends on the case. Here is what we mean by that.
There are 2 main cases concerning the matter that I would like to focus on:
1) You have already chosen your target market, you have a country specific domain name for that country (i.e. .co.uk for the United Kingdom) but you host it outside that country (i.e. in the USA).
Now here is the good news: If you have a country specific domain name, the location of your host doesn’t matter, it does not affect your ranking. In other words, your country code top level domain name (co.uk) will not be influenced by the IP of the server you are hosted on.
Another thing, it is known that .co.uk domains always rank higher on Google.co.uk, no matter if your business is based in the USA or the UK. The very domain (or its extension/ suffix) determines the geo-location in all the major search engines. The very fact that you use a .co.uk domain name comes to show that your company/ business is based in the UK. This means that if someone located in the USA wants to search for a UK company, they will look in the google.co.uk. Hence, chances of ranking for UK google results are much higher.
On the other hand, if you have business in the UK and wish to expand to the USA, then you need to consider using a .com domain name. To conclude this point, if you have a .co.uk domain name, it will rank better under google.co.uk no matter what you do. So, when trying to expand your business abroad, you should consider purchasing a .com domain name and create a website for your target market in the USA. When doing that, you might also need to change a bit the content of the website, not just copy-paste it. We all know there is a difference in some words in the every day language, as well as, cultural differences. So, be sure you make your second website appropriate for your target market in the country you are expanding your business to. Best will be to use the services of a local Translators Agency.
2) You are located in the UK, you have a .com website and host it in the USA which is your target market.
It is known that due to geo-location the rankings can be affected by the IP address. That is only when your site uses generic top level domains like .com, .org, .net, etc. Additionally, several search engines determine the country to which a web site belongs by the location of the web hosting server (the server IP). All this leads us to the conclusion that, if you are a UK company trying to rank for google.com, you would be listed for sure. Of course, you can not reply only on that – the so desired leading position depends on the whole SEO strategics you follow.
To summarize, if you are trying to boost your Search Engine presence in another country, you must cosider to buy a domain name with an extension that matches the country in question. Furthermore, you should consider the cultural, language and other country specific differences. These are points of concern you should remember especially when trying to grow your business outside your country of origin.