Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Geolocation and Geo targeting - Getting the right Audience and Location

'Location, location, location is what real estate management is all about'. Many years later and that's what I remember most of all from the book by Sidney Sheldon called 'The Stars Shine Down'. Now in relation to SEO I'm not saying the location is the most important factor but it does play a major part, especially if your target audience is in a particular location somewhere in the world...
Finding your audience is one of the first things you should consider when creating a business, website or blog. Who do you want to read your blog or provide services to? Sometimes your audience might be in a particular location. This is where geotargeting and geolocation comes into play. The search engine result seen in Nigeria is quite different from the one seen in America, and geotargeting plays a major factor into this.

When I became a SEO Blogger, I realised my home country wasn't into Search Engine Optimisation, much. So I figured why not begin charity at home? So my initial audience were Nigerian bloggers, especially when I realised there were quite a number of them too.

Gradually, my audience has slowly increased from just Nigerians. Lucky for me, SEO and blogging don't really have country restrictions, but just imagine if you were offering a service mainly in Nigeria like my wedding photographer friend. Yes, it would be cool having an international audience, but they really can't 'buy' what you're selling.

Here are some tips on how to factor geotargeting and geolocation into websites and blogs:

IP Address
This is one of the popular techniques for geotargeting. Although these days it's not always advised; It has being used in context with black hat seo (cloaking) so is frowned at. IP addresses can generally be used to provide users location anywhere in the world. Using the IP address, the website would deliver a particular content.

A good example would be Wikipedia which have a number of sub-domains for various languages and deliver what it believes to be the right one for users based on their IP address. For instance, if you are in France it would send you to and for English users.

Top Level Domain (TLD) suffix
The TLD suffix gives you an idea of the targeted audience and also affect your rank position on search engines for the region. United Kingdom websites usually have, USA sites go for .us.

For an international audience then you could always go for the common ones like .com, .net , .org and .info. The prices vary according to the TLD selected; .org are the most expensive and used by non-profit organisations, most times.

A site would rank higher on than, partly because of the TLD suffix. For a complete list of the TLD click here. I selected because it had no restricts (and is also cheaper!).

Using Google Webmaster Tool
From Google Webmaster Tool you can also specify your target user country from the site configuration settings. Another useful feature from the GWT. Sadly you can only specify one country, so if you have a number of countries you're targeting or you're a blogger, I won't recommend using this.

Country/Town Friendly URLs
Something else I seem to be seeing quite a lot of lately are country/town-friendly URLs. By that I mean URLs which have countries or towns in it. Of course, even after doing this you still have to tailor the page to the selected location by adding the appropriate content. Some URLs methods include:
  • sub-domains URL (e.g - usually a no-no, as they tend to be treated separately from the main domain. But it is quite different when you are being hosted by blogging platforms. When you can avoid this, avoid it. 
  • sub-folder URL (e.g - good, but you need to build links to it to get it ranking well.
  • main URL itself (e.g. - the best, but could be quite restrictive if the website grows outside its original audience.
Some other ways to target specific countries and localities is to sign up to search engine local business like Google Places, Bing Local Lisitng and Yahoo Local. You could also submit your website to other directories which target locations and towns like the Yellow pagesThomas Local and Scoot to name a few.

How about you? How do you target your audience? Are there any other methods of geotargeting and geolocation you use? Or once again, do you think this is something else we SEO people just go on and on about? Please drop a comment with your opinions and thoughts.

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