Google search is no longer dependent of country code top level domains (ccTLDs) for search results.
Before the update:
As most of us might know, Google has always worked on a basis of website domains. For example, Google.ae or Google.co.uk These country domains indicate different results of that country’s search results based on its ccTLDs. This essentially means if you decided to search for the word “restaurants” in Googe.ae while you are in the UK, results will show related searches in the UAE, based on your domain.
After the update: This however, is no longer the case. Google has upgraded their complicated mechanics to somehow focus on where we are located automatically, meaning if you were to search the word “restaurants” in Google.ae from the UK, you will receive related searches in the UK.
What does this mean for SEO convenience?
First of all, before you start to panic about whether local Google versions still have an impact or not, we can assure you that it still works. If you are using a local Google version according to your geo-location than nothing will change. This also does not affect local rankings. Google still track these local ranks based on your geo-location rather than ccTLDs. So technically, Google still plays its role in SEOs, just not with ccTLDs as the master navigator anymore.
How to be safe from an SEO perspective?
We understand this might come as a bit of a shock if you are used to the way Google Search Consoles (GSC) work but it is nothing to panic about. We recommend you take the following steps:
- Support your website with local keywords. Make sure to use geo-targeting keywords in your meta tags and title tags. For example, use “pizza menu in UAE” rather than just “pizza menu.”
- Do not forget to use local geo-targeting keywords in your content. Having local keywords in your content is going to keep you on top of any search queries.
- Utilize the NAP (name, address, and phone number) footer. If you have not done this already, you should start thinking about it. This is especially important with this new Google feature.
- Use Hreflang Attributes, which tell Google which language you are using on a specific page, on your multilingual and multiregional websites.
How can I check my website ranking in multiple countries?
You can do this in two ways, which include the following:
- Manual mode. Change your search settings by going to the “settings” tab under “search settings.” Then go to “region settings” and choose the country you want. Make sure to check it afterwards.
- Automatic mode. Purchase a VPN subscription that allows you to browse as a user from a specific targeted country. For example, if you choose KSA as your VPN country, you will be able to receive local search results from KSA.
This Google update may be one that is rather intimidating especially seeing how much it affects the local rankings, however, it does not need to be that way. We recommend you keep using local geo-targeting keywords in your content and your meta tags. In addition, you should use the Hreflang Attributes for your international website to help navigate your local keywords. That said, there are many ways to still utilize your local SEO strategies and make things geo-targeted friendly, you just need to know the tips and tricks.