Recently, the growth in requests from clients to target their websites at specific countries has been huge. I put this down to the recent hype that SEOs have created around Googles geo-targeting in their Google Webmaster Tools service.

For me, this is a lot of hype over nothing. In some cases it’s great to be able to target a specific area. For example, I’m in Ireland, I host my website in the US and I have a .com domain name. I really only want business in Ireland and I really need to appear in the “Sites from Ireland” search in Google. So what do I need to do?

Well the steps for that are quite simple. There are a few options available to you, here they are:

  1. Register a .ie domain name
    The easiest way to geo-target without a doubt. If your website has been up and running for a while, you will need to implement a 301 Redirect from your old domain name to your new .ie domain name. It will take time for Google to pass all the trust and popularity that your website has built up over time on to your new website, but it will be worth it in the end.
  2. Change hosting or IP Space
    The next thing you should look at is moving hosting to an Irish based hosting company. Now, by that I mean physically located in Ireland, not a hosting company that resell hosting in the US. If this isn’t an option, talk to your current provider about providing you with an Irish IP address.
  3. Use Geo-target tool
    Your final option is to use the Google Webmaster Geo-targeting tool. I personally am still not convinced this is a very good option. Although it works, you are at the mercy of Google. If at any stage Google feels that you are not in any way related to that area, you are easily disconnected!

Now let’s think of a different scenario that could in theory be quite common to a lot of Irish businesses. Let’s say we wanted to target Northern Ireland, how would we do this?

There’s a lot of debate over this, but for me there is only one real solution that will always work!

  1. Create a new website
    It’s horrible to think of going through that process all over again, but for me it’ the only viable option. All content will have to be different, which will be an absolute pain. But you should also think of contact information. Will someone in the UK expect to ring an Irish Number? Not likely, so you need to think about things like that.
  2. Register domain name
    As before, I would register a domain name.
  3. Search Engine Optimisation
    Unfortunately it’s a brand new website. The process of developing links etc will all have to be done seperately to your main website.

Just remember, geo-targeting is all about localised results. It’s in your best interest to spend more time focusing on the keyphrases you need to be found for and making sure you website appears for them no matter where you are in the world.

Let’s face it, if I was to search for a Solicitor in Google using the “sites from UK” option, would I want to see solicitors from Ireland appearing here? Would I even bother doing business with any of them? Unlikely!

So what other ways can you target business from other countries? Well the most obvious is by language!

For example if I’m in Poland, I don’t speak English and I need a solicitor in Dublin. How can you catch this potential client?  

Here’s a good example of how we did it for one of our clients. Instead of geo-targeting Poland, we focused on the Polish language and keyphrases that may be used. From the results below, you will see that it doesn’t matter what country specific search engine you search in, if you have targeted your phrases properly, you will get results!

prawnik w dublin” – – Result No. 6
“prawnik w dublin” – – Result No. 5
“prawnik w dublin” – – Result No. 7

On top of that, it’s more likely for this person to be a qualified lead, that someone that has found you because you tricked the search engines!

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