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When to Use International Targeting in Google Search Console

by | SEO

Jul 2, 2021

If your site has a country code top-level domain such as .de.uk, or .us, you do not need international targeting. The reason is that such domains are specifically assigned for that particular country for use to service their inhabitants.

However, if you’re using a neutral top-level domain, such as .com, .net, or .org, then you may need geotargeting because it helps Google determine how to show your site in search results. It also helps Google make improvements on their search results for geographic queries from users.

When to use international targeting

It is best to use international targeting if your website is primarily targeting a particular country or language. Let’s say, for example, your website is written in the German language. You can use it to target people in Germany or if it is in the Chinese language, then it will be best to target users in China as your main audience.

It doesn’t make sense if you target The United States or The United Kingdom when your content is written in German or Chinese because you won’t find enough German or Chinese language speakers in those countries. Most of the people living in these countries can speak English and they will be looking forward to reading English content.

English is recognized as an official language in about 67 different countries. So, for an English website, it’s better not to use international targeting because many countries speak English nationwide. The United Kingdom, The United States, Canada (except Quebec), Australia, India, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and many others. You are going to rank higher and gain many visitors from these countries since that’s your target language.

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When targeting people in your country

If you’re operating a company, business website or you’re a provider of certain local services and your target customers are in a particular country, then I’ll recommend you use international targeting. Using it will show your content to users of the country where your target customers reside. Alternatively, you can use local search intent to optimize your keywords and also open a Google my business directory to target people in your city or area.

On the other hand, if your customers or website visitors come from all over the world and you want your site to rank in other countries or drive traffic globally. In that case, I’ll recommend not using the international targeting settings in the Google search console. Better still, you can just set it to unlisted if you want to use it.

Alternatively, you can use Hreflang HTML attributes if your website content is written in different languages. This helps Google to understand and recognize the geographical orientation of your website. And it also tells the web browser which language a website visitor selected as their preferred choice of language.

The downside to international targeting

The negative effect that comes from targeting a specific country for your website is that you will lose a lot of traffic and rankings from the unselected countries. 

For example, if you used to get 40% traffic from Canada, India 30%, The United Kingdom 20%, and Canada 10% and you decide to chose Canada as your geographic target. You will lose your website rankings in the other countries and gain more ranking in Canada. 

As a result, your traffic may later look like this: For example, Canada 80%, and the rest of the world 20%. It is best not to use the international targeting settings unless your website target audience really resides in a particular country and nowhere else.

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