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Search Engine Ranking Factors For Google UK

May 25, 2008 by Ben W. 

In order to rank for country specific searches on Google.co.uk you need to show Google that you are focusing on the UK region. So how do you do this? We have compiled a list of SEO factors that help Google know along with explanations.

Google UK Ranking Factors – Not In Any Order Of Importance

1. Google Webmaster Central Region Targeting – Choose what country your site should be associated with (United Kingdom). Pretty self explanatory. I use Google Webmaster Central and don’t think it is part of Google’s master plan to take over the world but some people think otherwise. Just bear in mind you are giving more information to the monster.

2. Domain Ending – Having your domain end in .co.uk is a strong signal to search engines and people where your focus is. Using a .com, .net, or other domain ending is not the end of the world but if you have a choice go with a UK specific one.

3. Location Of Hosting – If you are targeting the UK make sure your web hosting company is based in the United Kingdom and their servers IPs trace back to the UK. To check on this just do a whois.sc on the hosting companies domain and look next to the “IP Location” bar.

4. Address And Phone On Site – Having a UK addresses and phone number on the contact page or footer of every page is a pretty clear signal to both humans and search engines.

5. UK specific Content And On Page Optimisation – This will happen naturally with UK spellings, keyword usage, and content on the region as you write. If you are focusing on a broader topic just try to include a post once in a while that mentions your area. So if you are talking about gaming make a post about how expensive the PS3 is in your home town of Nottingham.

6. Meta Tag For Country And Language – This probably has no impact on Google but I still recommend doing it just for the sake of good practices and other bots/engines that use it.

7. Links From UK Focused Sites Or Content – Links from sites Google believes are UK specific due to any of the above factors are going to be a huge factor. Directories that are listing United Kingdom businesses, local trade organizations, commerce organizations, any links from other .co.uk sites or sites that are clearly in that area will help. Links in content Google will deem UK specific and link anchor text can help too. For example a link called “London Plumber” instead of just Plumber would be nice to get.

8. Activity On Google Toolbar – If visitors to your site are from the UK the toolbar will track it along with some other factors and this might have a small impact. I am not sure how much of a factor it is currently and I remain undecided.

9. Listing In Google Local – Listing your business on Google’s local listings for the UK is a recommended move. Not a huge impact yet but that could change.

In terms of importance I would say that the key ones are links from UK specific sites and having content and keyword usage that reflects your location. Having your location and phone on the contact page or footer will also help. Having the domain end in .co.uk is going to be a big bonus and you basically want to hit as many factors as you can.

If you have any suggestions please leave a comment and I will add it.

Comments

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12 Comments »

Comment by Jon Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-26 14:42:31

Hi Ben

Thanks for the article, it’s great to see a UK perspective on SEO and marketing. A couple of questions, if I may?

1. How important do you think UK hosting is? We have a .co.uk domain, but we’re using a US hosting service (mainly because we’re planning to use Drupal CMS, and our hosting provider specialises in suporting that system).

2. What directories (in addition to Google Local) would you recommend registering with, from a UK perspective? For example, I’ve seen people say it’s worth paying for Yahoo directory listing, but not sure if that advice related to US or global sites

Thanks, Jon

Comment by Ben W. Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-26 15:06:09

Thanks Jon, my goal is to really build a stronger site on UK specific search and hopefully with a mix of articles for both total beginners and mid level.

1. I don’t think having your IP go back to the UK is vital if you are using a .co.uk. It might help a little bit but it sounds like Google is going to clearly see you are UK specific due to all the other factors. What might be a more important reason is if your site is aimed purely at UK visitors you are going to want the access times to not have the delay of going to the USA. Fiber is fast but it still adds a bit more delay for the request to have to cross the Atlantic and back.

Also, an easy way to test how big a factor this is in your niche (as it varies) is to do a search on google.co.uk some keywords. So if you are selling pet supplies in the UK search for “Pet Supplies”. Then take the top 10 or 20 sites and do a whois.sc on the domain and record how many of them are using UK hosting and a .co.uk. That is a good indication if in your niche it is a more important factor than in general.

If you want send me an email and I can suggest a few UK hosting providers who offer Drupal (which is a great CMS).

2. A lot of the bigger directories have a region specific section so that won’t be too much of a factor. Personally I only do a few directories to start out with and this depends on the niche, if I’m doing a pet supply store I might submit to botw.org (best of the web), yahoo directory, and then a few pet specific directories.

The quality of a directory is important to gauge in order to make sure its still worth while apply for a submission, here is a nice guide on how to check the quality and a list of about 40 they recommend:

http://www.seobook.com/archives/001583.shtml

In terms of the UK I think the Yahoo UK directory is a great one and dmoz’s UK section. Here are a few others that might be good:

http://directory.internetbusiness.co.uk/
http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/links/
http://www.business-directory-uk.co.uk/
http://www.b2bindex.co.uk/
http://www.business.com/

Just a few suggestions, check them out before you use them and try to list in the ones specific to your niche which will be a lot more useful for users too.

 
 
Comment by John Cronin Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-28 15:07:37

Hi Ben

Good choice of theme!

Acquiring good links can be tricky so thanks for publishing a few suggestions. As a couple of the suggestions require a reciprocal link back (and I also spotted a few direct to merchant affiliate links too!) I wonder if they actually pass much juice? Still, if they manage to pass visitors it can’t be bad.

Agree with botw.org and blogs.botw.org too.

Even though wikipedia links are nofollowed I think suitably placed links out are still worthwhile because you get traffic from them.

Comment by Ben W. Subscribed to comments via email
2008-05-28 15:34:49

Ya if your site is one that can get wiki links go for it, I think it has other benefits as well.

Affiliate links can pass link juice if they are done directly to the merchant’s page or using a 301 redirect.

 
 
Comment by Jaamit Subscribed to comments via email
2008-06-05 11:14:56

Great post, and good to see a UK-focused SEO blog around, I will definitely be coming back for more.

I’m sure you will see this anyway, but Will Critchlow just posted on SEOmoz about this very issue, plus some specific info about having different US and UK sites, and the dangers of geotargeted IP cloaking (summary: all the big search engines’ spiders have a US-based IP address!)

Comment by Ben Subscribed to comments via email
2008-08-26 17:40:37

Thanks!

Yep, Will and Duncan gave a great presentation on that this last week in Seattle. Very interesting stuff if you are targeting multiple geo locations or languages.

 
 
Comment by andymurd Subscribed to comments via email
2008-08-26 12:20:18

You recommend using the meta tags for country and language, and reminded my that I must update mine. I’ll then be able to test if they are ignored by Google.

Do you know if Google place any significance on the many forms of “geo” meta tag or even the old “ICBM” tag?

Comment by Ben Subscribed to comments via email
2008-08-26 17:38:59

I really really doubt that Google will put any significance on geo meta tags or the old ICBM tag. It can’t hurt to do it but I doubt the ICBM does anything, the meta tag for country on the other hand might be used by Google as a small flag but you are better off going with the other methods such as your address on the footer of all your pages.

For more info on that ICBM for anyone that hasn’t hurt of that check out this nice page:
Wiki On Geotagging

 
 
Comment by Josh Lenin
2009-04-30 18:10:39

One of my customers sites lists on page 2 in google.com for a specific search term, although is down on page 8 in .co.uk.
How does google know if a .com domain comes from the uk or not? and is it worth buying a .co.uk domain and pointing it at the site?

All advice would be appreciated.

Comment by Ben W. Subscribed to comments via email
2009-05-01 20:26:21

Sure the factors above all explain how you can help show Google you should be in the UK rankings. Or in webmasters central…

Are you wanting to just rank in google UK or both?

Thanks, Ben

 
 
Comment by Marc
2012-11-06 23:01:11

Only just found this article while trying to work out why I no longer rank in the UK. Still some great relevant tips. Thanks

 
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