What is the Impact of Geographic Settings in Google Webmaster Tools?
Geo targeting or geographic target setting is the option for webmasters to link targeted geographic location of traffic to their sites in Webmaster Tools account. This helps Google to determine the search results for a specific geographic location.
Geographic setting is one of the tools Google uses to determine the top search results for a particular country hence Google search results will vary from country to country for the same keywords.
Domains and Geographic Settings
All the country specific domains like .us (Unites States), .in (India) or .ca (Canada) are by default linked to a particular country and hence there will not be an additional geographic targeting option required for these domains. This means for country specific domains you will not see a “Geographic Target” setting option in your Google Webmaster Tools.
The generic top level domains like .com, .net, .info or .org are not linked with any countries in specific. Hence Google provides an option to add a geographic target for the webmasters owning a generic top level domain.
If there is no geographic location set for a generic top level domain site in Webmaster Tools account then Google uses various other data like server location and information on Google Places before displaying it in the search result pages. If your site is not linked with any geography and you changed your hosting provider then it is recommended that you inform Google about the new location of your server through geographic target setting. This will help Google to re-determine the position of your site in the search results for geographically restricted searches.
How to Set a Geographic Target?
- Login to your Webmaster Tools account and select the site. You need to have your site verified successfully in order to use this option.
- Click on the Gear Box Icon located at the top right corner of the site and select “Site Settings”.
- Set the Geographic target by selecting the country from the drop-down.
- Select “Unlisted” if you do not want to link your site with any of the geographic locations.
Example for Geographic Target Setting
Webmasters should remember that this geographic setting option is only used to determine the search results for Google and not used to differentiate language specific content. For example, if you have a site in Spanish it is not recommended to Geo target here for Spain or Mexico rather you can leave it as Unlisted. But if you have a real estate site in India and you think it is probably of no use to the users in other countries then you can set the geographic target here as India.
Once you changed your geographic target settings Google will send you an informative message about your change which you can see it in “Site Messages” section of your Webmaster Tools account.
The location you set in your account will be shown in the search results. Here is an example of how a site geo targeted for US will show in the searches. It may take few weeks to few months time for Google to refresh all your indexed URLs and till the time you will see the mix of URLs without location and with location. Hence it is not recommended to change the locations frequently.