Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Differences between google.co.uk and google.com

Recently while working on some of our clients sites I have been noticing some really big differences between the rankings for some sites in google.co.uk and google.com

I first noticed the problem with a new website we created for Kim’s Chilled Couriers, a local haulage firm who offer refrigerated transport and frozen transport. Monitoring the keywords in google.co.uk was providing some very disappointing rankings. One day, using the search box in firefox I searched for “chilled couriers” and the site was ranked in the first result. I wasn’t signed in to my google account so the listing hadn’t been voted up using the search wiki, but the search box in firefox searches in google.com, not google.co.uk. It was clear, that despite our efforts, Google was not associating the site to the UK.

I thought this was quite surprising. Admittedly the site does have a .com url, but it is hosted on our server in the UK, the geo target had been set to UK in the Google Webmaster Tools and the site was listed in Google Local.

I asked on various forums to get help with the problem. Some of the suggestions that I received:

- Build more UK links
- Add UK to the title tags
- Add UK to the address on the page footer
- Add United Kingdom to the address on the Contact page
- Submitting the site to local directories

It was also suggested to change the html < html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> tag to this:
< html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en-gb" lang="en-gb">

Over the last few months a combination of these factors have helped the site to rank much higher in google.co.uk. Here are the screen shots from google.co.uk & .com

co.uk:

google.co.uk screenshot

.com:

google.com screenshot

As you can see the site is still ranking slightly higher in .com, but the rankings in co.uk have really improved recently – at one point they were about 80 positions out!.

This example clearly demonstrates that, given a choice, it is a much more sensible option to choose the local domain associated with the main target users. We were asked to use the .com address in this case as they had already used it in the past.

The Kim’s Chilled Couriers site is solely focused to people who are based and searching in the UK, I firmly believe that if we had been able to use the .co.uk address, it would have taken far less effort to improve the google.co.uk rankings.

2 comments:

Matt Wardman said...

btw There is currently a chance to play with the search results on Youtube.

http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2009/02/17/googlebombing-youtube-a-world-without-libel-lawyers/

Martyn said...

A Bit of a mystery, we have had some problems with this before but we managed to find out that due to the domain being a .com and not on a uk server caused some issues but It looks like you are on the way to solving it.