Geotargeting Your Website With Google Webmaster Tools

By: Daniel Imbellino
Updated: Jan 28, 2013

  Google gives webmasters the power to target geographic audiences with the use of webmaster tools. By default, Google targets “top level domains” for the entire web! For instance, if a search query originated in England, Google could resolve that request for information by returning results from a domain in a different country. Also, webmasters can Geotarget their sub-domains to specific countries using webmaster tools.

  What if you decided to create several different language versions of your website, how would you go about implementing this? You could set up sub-domains for each language, or create sub-folders for each language, and point to them from your webmaster tools account.

  You should start by verifying your top level domain in webmaster tools first. From your webmaster tools homepage, click “add a site”, then type in your sites URL, don’t specify your home page when doing this. Google will then prompt you to verify ownership of your site. You will be given a script to link your webmaster tools account to your homepage’s HTML. Once verified, you now click “add a site” again and manually add your sub-domains or subfolders individually. You then would set an individual geographic location based on each sub-domain or subfolder’s language. For instance, if I created a French subfolder and wanted it to be accessible only to users in France, I would take my domain, let’s say "http://www.example.com" , and create a subfolder using that countries “Top Level Domain”, in this case it’s ‘FR’, for France. So our sub-domain could be "http://fr.example.com". Or we could point to a subfolder that houses the French version of our site "http://www.example.com/fr/". Also, you don’t need to verify your sub-domains, or subfolders, since you already verified your top level domain.

  To set your geographic location, under site configuration, click settings, select the geographic target for your website. In this manner, all of your subfolders or sub-domains would point to the proper country and language.

  You could for instance raise your websites traffic by creating a sub-domain targeted to users in Canada. This tells search engines that you are claiming your site has useful information for people who live in this geographic location. Because your sites content points to that country, your content is more likely to come up in search results there. Also, you could use “Google Translate” to translate your content to other languages. The problem is you have no way to verify if the translation was properly done, since you can’t read French. In the end, hiring a translator to properly translate your content is the best thing to do. Your users will appreciate it, and so will the search engines.


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