Web Promotion Guide - International Traffic
The internet has done a great deal to bring the world closer together, but where search engines are concerned, there is still very much a regional divide. Australian users have a tendency to use Australian engines and the same applies to users from the UK, Canada, New Zealand etc.
In many cases they don't really have a choice. Did you know that an Australian user connecting to altavista.com will automatically be re-directed to the Australian version of AltaVista? What is even more significant, is that in the Australian version, the default search is set to search Australian sites ONLY. Many major engines do the same thing.
What it means, is that you are probably missing out on traffic from several very important regional markets such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and others. This presents a problem if you have an international client base or a web site with an international character. It also presents an opportunity if you know how to take advantage of this niche.
The key is to ensure that your web site is listed on the regional engines, but this is not as simple as it sounds. Most regional engines only index regional web sites. (That is after all, what makes them regional.)
How does an engine know that a site is regional?
There are two simple ways. The first is to look at the domain. If the domain has .co.uk, you can assume that it is a UK site, .au if Australian and so on.
The second is to classify a site based on its IP address. Each country has specific ranges of IP addresses assigned to it and engines use this information to identify where a web site is hosted. From this they can assume that if a .com or a .net site is hosted in the UK, it is likely to be a regional UK site.
What this all means, is that to get listed on regional engines, you either:
a) Need a regional domain for your website.
b) Need to have your site hosted on a regional server.
c) Pay to be added in the regional indexes. (only a few engines offer this option).
Note: Non-English speaking countries may also use the language and character encoding as a guide.
Sounds simple, but this can actually be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. To make things worse, many countries do not allow domain registrations without having a permanent presence in the region, such as a registered business or a company.
The simplest solution is to purchase a separate hosting account for each country. One such service is provided by Vendercom.com. It gives you a regional domain such as: yourname.vendercom.co.uk in over a dozen countries. The cost is less than $50 per year and includes 500M of space, unlimited bandwidth and some very good tracking statistics.
For more info: http://www.vendercom.com/domain.html?id=70497
To simplify the management, there are tools like SiteLoad that will help you synchronize multiple mirror sites.
You may however wish to regionalize the content of each mirror to make it region specific, in which case any FTP program will do.
NeedMoreBeer.com Case Study
First of all I would like to thank NeedMoreBeer.com for allowing the use of this information.
NeedMoreBeer.com are one of our clients and as the name suggests, they sell beer and beer merchandise online.
Because they ship world wide, it was important for them to get as much of the international market as possible and not limit their search engine promotion just to the US market. We did not have a large promotional budget and decided to focus on UK organic listings. The results were quite surprising.
What we did
We created a version of their site on http://beer.vendercom.co.uk using the regional vendercom hosting service. We then registered this site with the UK search engines.
After about 8 days, we started to see the first UK traffic coming in.
The International and US markets are very saturated and if you search for "Beer Steins" on Google, you will get over 35000 pages. That is a lot of competition especially when you consider that only 10 of these can be on the all-important first page of results.
If you search for "beer steins" on Google UK (google.co.uk), there are only about 1000 results. Because NeedMoreBeer.com now also have a .co.uk site, they are now listed in these results as well. Without a .co.uk domain, NeedMoreBeer.com were missing out on a very significant international market with almost 60 million people.
Note: After google.co.uk indexed the new site, the traffic generated just from this one engine, covered the costs within 2 days.
On Nov 4th 2003, beer.vendercom.co.uk came up at #1 for search terms such as "european beer steins" on google.co.uk, #3 for "european beer" etc.
Ren Warmuz is a SEO consultant for globalpromote.com
Copyright © 2004 Ren Warmuz & GlobalPromote.com
Permission is granted to reproduce this article if left without modification and in it's entirety.
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