Webmaster Tools International Targeting

So I was wondering why a site of mine was seeing fantastic traffic from Google UK, but next to none from the .com, international version.

I knew I hadn’t picked a country to target in webmaster tools, so thought that I’d set it to .com instead… So I headed over to WMT, and found this:

uk country specific

For those that don’t know, there is normally a drop down menu where you pick the country you’d like to target, like so:

drop down

The domain I’m using is a .co.uk domain.

It turns out that Google for country specific TLDs such as .co.uk, .in, .fr and so on… Will automatically have the target country set for them and you won’t be able to edit the target country.

This becomes extremely frustrating when you have an international site on a country specific TLD, probably due to the company/site being based out of that country.

Work Arounds

I’ve read quite a few guides on International SEO that recommend to specify your meta tag, you’re wasting your time:

google qa

^ Taken from: https://sites.google.com/site/webmasterhelpforum/en/faq-internationalisation#q13

Hreflang

They do however look at hreflang, for example, if I wanted to target Canada with a specific page, then I’d link to that page (either via the nav bar, or a contextual link etc) with this code:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/page” hreflang=”en-ca” />

If you want to target a different language, then change the “en” (which is English) to the language, for example German would be “de” and change the “ca” to the country, in this case it’s Canada.

Server Location

Google also look at where your server is located, though the TLD of the domain will take priority over the server location, Google do take into account where the server is located.

Note that Google do pick-up CDN services via the changing IP from different GBot locations and will ignore the server location and will just go by the TLD.

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