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Global SEO: Multiple Sites in Different GEO Locales
Friday, October 02, 2009
For any organizations that are planning a global search strategy, one thing to consider is the idea of having multiple sites in different geographic locations. The Search Engines have not always been clear on their stance on this. A lot of the information conflicts and as a result there appears to be confusion with many on this topic.

We've discussed the idea of GEO hosting and the benefits of have a geo-targeted domain, but for organizations who have a global presence, what are the best practices for global SEO? What are some of the well known global brands doing when it comes to global SEO from an online perspective?

We looked at Samsung to see what they were doing. Here is what we found. We noticed that they did create a German based version of their site with a .de domain for their German audience. Yet the only created an Austrian sub-folder (and not an at domain) for their Austrian audience.

Samsung Germany

Samsung Austria

Samsung has registered their sites in the respective GEO locale:
Google.de has the Samsung.de site listed (registered in Wendlingen, DE)
Google.at has the samsung.at site listed (registered in Wien, Austria)

The parent site: www.samsung.com is listed in both Google.de and Google.at but it is ranked below the corresponding country site. Their main site, Samsung.com is registered in Seoul, South Korea. So they are in fact taking the approach to have the different country sites registered in that specific country (which will help with the search engines that are looking up the IP address).

The samsung.at site redirects to a sub-folder on the .com site, and the .com site is ranking in Google.at #11 for "digitalkameras". This approach could work, but the .at domains are performing better in the top 10 results, especially with being registered in Austria.

But what about “spielwaren”?
Google Germany – no .com results

Google Austria – one .com result, the rest .at sites

Global SEO

Interesting but still no real evidence as to what the best practices should be. We do know this however, with regards to SEO on a global level, in addition to setting the geographic target in Google, the following items will have the greatest impact in how a site is placed in the index.
  1. TLD extension
  2. Hosting/Server location
  3. Domain registrar
  4. Google local registration
  5. Incoming links – i.e. receiving links from other .de sites
  6. Site language
  7. On page addresses/phone numbers
Here's a recent presentation from Google about Duplicate content and multiple site issues.


For the record, Google is currently the only engine that provides the option of setting a geographic target. This is done via Google Webmaster Tools:

Site Configuration > Settings > Geographic Target

In addition, according to Google:
According to Google, “if no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we'll continue to make geographic associations largely based on the top-level domain (e.g. .co.uk or .ca) and the IP of the webserver from which the context was served.”
Hope this helps any site owners looking to expand their Global SEO efforts.

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Labels: ,

posted by Jody @ 2:17 PM  
  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous reactorr seo said…

    Hi Jody

    I'm familiar with the debate, and here to tell you through a fair amount of testing by myself and others I've spoken to, the location of a host just doesn't matter.


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