This post will come by as a clarification to many of us. The .com and regional domain debate has been existing for so long in the industry now. And it all originates from the fact that some websites need to target a regional audience. For example a website that focuses the UK market – would be wondering ways to reach the UK SERPS more than the US SERPs, through SEO methods.
So, first off let’s see how SEO can be used to target a particular region or country on the search results.
1 – Domain Name – Regional or Dot com.
If you have a regional domain name like .uk or .in, then chances are that Google will figure out already what region your website is targeting. It means that a .co.uk domain name has more chances of showing up frequently on the search engines than a .in domain name.
Lets take an example. Site A with a domain name .co.uk and Site B with .co.in
People searching from the UK will see more occurrences of Site A, and people searching from India will see more occurrences of Site B.
2 – Server Location – Which country is your server located ?
The server location is another signal to search engines that will give clue as to where and whom will find the content interesting. For the same reason, a site hosted in Germany will see more occurrences of search results on the German search engine.
3 – The Confusion over Server location and Regional Domain Name
Now the confusion is if Site A (with a domain name .co.uk) is located in a server in the US, how would the SERPs show up ?
Google says that in such a situation Google will go for the domain name, as it is a stronger signal than the sever. So in the above case, the site would be more preferred in the UK search engines. But don’t get carried away it doesn’t mean that the site is all powerful in the UK search engines. There are a lot of other factors that go with it that will help Google decide if the site is fit for the UK search results. And those supporting factors are -
- Backlinks from other sites, and their sources. (If the site has more backlinks from domain names with co.uk it means the site content is more catered to UK audience)
- Content Or Language of the site. (If the site is in german, and the domain name German TLD, then it makes sense to show the site in German SERPs more.)
So the idea is to gather up as many signals as possible like the TLD, Server location, Backlink data etc to decide which search engine results the site should be shown on. And webmasters should understand that relying on one signal like domain name or server location itself may result in lot of noise.