Geographic Targeting in Search Console All You Need to Know

Google Search Console is an amazing tool for webmasters and those who run their own websites.

It allows you to optimize your visibility and check your index status, among many other functions. If you are searching for a digital marketing agency to take care of this, reach out to us today.

One function that tends to create some confusion is geographic targeting. Here, we’ll learn what geographic targeting is, when you should use it, and how to get started.

What is Geographic Targeting (GT) in Search Console?

Setting a GT allows you to specify the country of users you want to view your website most. It’s especially helpful for businesses that only cater to a specific country, not the entire international market. Additionally, it helps users identify your website because of the TDL (top-level domain) it has. Your target country could be unclear if you use a .com, .org, or .net URL. By setting a GT, your URL has the specified URL, like .co.th, .in.th for Thailand or .au for Australia.

GT isn’t beneficial to every webmaster or business owner. You must decide if it’ll make a difference in your website’s visibility, or if you have enough geographic targeting in your marketing (ex. Having your target country in your business name, like DiVino Bangkok).

You may not need to also set a GT if your targeting is already clear, or you don’t have a specific country to target. Perhaps you service the entire world market through international shipping, or you have representatives in each country. In these cases, specifying a geo-target could be detrimental to your marketing plan.

To make it extra clear, here are the types of businesses that would benefit from GT:

  • Those who only service a specific country and it isn’t clear from their business name or domain
  • Those who want to specifically target multiple countries and can do so through a subdomain (e.g. th.businessname.com or au.businessname.com)
  • Those who are targeting different lingual subsects of a country,(i.e. businessname.co.th, businessname.in.th etc etc)

The following are businesses that would NOT benefit from setting a GT:

  • Those who are targeting multilingual audiences around the world, not just from one specific country
  • Those who are targeting the entire world market, not any specific county (choosing a GT will cause all your /subfolders/ to file under that country, making them ineffective)
  • Those who want to improve their rankings on search engines within their country (setting a GT doesn’t affect your rankings, it merely tells Google who to show your website to)

How to Set Up Geographic Targeting in Search Console

You should now know if your website is one that would benefit from geographic targeting. If it is, here are the steps to set it up.

  1. Login to your Google Search Console dashboard
  2. Choose the website you want to set a GT for
  3. In the left-side menu under “Traffic”, select “International Targeting”
  4. Select the “Country” tab
  5. Choose which regions you want to target (If you don’t want to target any, select “unlisted”)
  6. Save

It’s always recommended to go through these steps even when you don’t want to set a geo-target. Simply selecting “unlisted” is better than leaving it blank because then Google doesn’t have to guess who you’re trying to target. It sees that your website is set to “unlisted” and will continue to show it based on other factors besides location.

The results of using a GT in appropriate circumstances are impressive. A website can see a 73 percent increase in organic traffic from the country they set as their GT. Of course, other factors contribute to your organic traffic numbers. 

Geographic Targeting Frequently Asked Questions

What does “unlisted” mean in the GT location options?

It means you aren’t targeting a specific country. Google will see that and not attempt to match you with geographically based users.

My business targets four specific countries. Should I set a GT?

In this case, it’s best to select “unlisted” and then create separate /subfolders/ for each target. Creating individual landing pages targeting each country is highly recommended.

How long does it take for GT to take effect?

Once you’ve selected a geo-target, you should see the change in a couple of weeks. If you don’t, it could be because you didn’t update one of the other geo-targeting elements along with the GT.

Do redirects change after I’ve set a GT?

Depending on the type of redirect, the URL will be visible in Google’s SERPs. If you are going to use GT, you should set it for the main website as well as any redirects.

My website targets Thais living abroad, but our current GT is set to Thailand. Should I change it to “unlisted”?

Since you want to reach Thais in other countries, and no country specifically, you should change your GT to “unlisted”. Then, to ensure you capture the searches of Thais abroad, use local keywords that they will be searching with.

How does Google decide who to target your site to if you set it to “unlisted”?

Google uses a variety of other signals to decide who to target your website to, besides GT. It considers your currency, language, backlink sources, local keywords, anchor texts, local citations, reviews, and much more. 

Will I get nabbed for having duplicate content if I have two websites with the same content, but one is .co.th and one is .com?

You shouldn’t be penalized by Google if your GT is clearly set. Hreflang annotations are also a good idea in this case.

Conclusion

As you can see, using a GT can be extremely beneficial to certain businesses. Keep in mind that geo-targeting doesn’t improve or decrease your Google ranking; it simply tells Google where your target users are from. Once you understand more about the strategy of geo-targeting, you can select the most beneficial option for you.

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