Update: Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) has been rebranded to Google Search Console. Read the latest on how to Geo-Target with Google Search Console with this more recent blog post here.

Lots of websites are started everyday with the intention of making online sales or getting customers from the Internet. These websites want to do business, which is targeted to a certain geographical scope; it may be targeted only to one country, a number of countries, or even the whole world, and hopefully the universe.

Search engines like Google have been doing their best to return the most relevant search results to their users. One of the ways they have improved dramatically shows how “geo-targeting” has been handled by the Google algorithm.

If a company has a website in the USA, and you want to show up  in Google Search in France you will have a hard time unless you use Google Webmaster tools. Google uses the geographic location of the server in which the website being analyzed, and geographic specific Top Level Domain of the website such as .fr for France, .de for Germany, and .jp for Japan.

Some websites are hosted outside the country in which they do business due to factors such as its cheaper, the corporate servers are hosted in that country, or any other myriad mixture of reasons. Google created the Google Webmaster tool to fix a few things and to help with the user experience of Google. In Webmaster tools you can set your preferred geographical location to your country. This will help if you want to target a geographical area.


Why You Want To Do Geographical Targeting In Your Country

If I sell basketball hoops and I do not want to sell outside of the US for some reason, then it would be advantageous to set my Google Webmaster Tools Geographical Location to the United States. I want to do this so that people outside of the US will not find my site before a local site in their country; requests from Australia on Basketball hoops are great but not if you cannot ship them there.

Also if you have content that relevant to just a certain area like Texas High School Football then only people in the US would really need that info. If you have a global website for sub-domains you can target your sub-domain to that location. Example

  • www.example.com.fr – French
  • www.example.com.ca – Canada
  • www.example.com.uk – United Kingdom

Why You Would Not Want To Do Geo Targeting

If you are targeting people for your website speaking a language like Spanish in the USA or other non-native speakers. If your website is in French you might miss out on people that speak French outside of France. So if you are trying to target a language group then Geo targeting might not be the best for you.

Google Cares About The Experience

Google wants your business or website to come up for the best results. People are looking to find things around them, not 5,000 miles away. Google will return the best results in your country first, if you help them do this then you are setting yourself up for success.

How To Set Google To Geo Target

You can geo target your domain:

  • www.example.com

You can add and target individual sub folders

  • www.example.com/fr
  • www.example.com/ca
  • www.example.com/uk

Or you can add and target subdomains on your website.

In order to do so you have to add them to your Google Webmaster account and set the Geo targeting. To set a geographic target:

  1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
  2. Under Site configuration, click Settings.
  3. In the Geographic target section, select the option you want.

If you want to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region, select Unlisted.

Google Webmaster Tools Geographic Target Settings



Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.

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