Search Engine Optimization is all about making your site as relevant for search engine query in your market. By having you web host located in the wrong country you could find that you rank well in the incorrect country and market and lose out on the benefits that search engine optimization would otherwise have brought your business.
Why is the location of your host important in the Search Engine Rankings?
To a search engine all sites were made equal and all they have the ability to do is interpret the data that they are passed. It is this interprative stage that the problems for your site can arise. The core issue is how does a search engine know which country and market your website is wishing to rank in?
This information can only come from two distinct methods: Direct and Indirect methods
Direct Means :: When a search engine finds your sites, whether it be through search engine submission or via the links that point to your site the first thing it finds is your domain. If this is a .co.uk or another geographical variant; .es for Spain, .fr for France or .it the search engine is directly informed and knows which countrys index the results for this site should be placed in.
Indirect Means :: The search engine locates your site but the domain contains no geographical data. Your website domain could be a .com, a .biz or a .tv. From this all the search engine knows is that this a site. As such it makes inferences from the data that is assosciated with that domain.
It is from this inferred data that the problems can arise. If your target market is the UK and your site is hosted by a server located in Germany you can find that you have problems. The site will be seen automatically as facing the German market.
How to find which country your Website is Hosted
The simplest way is to visit Netcraft.com to check your domain. By checking the data returned you can see easily which country your web host is in. Please note you need only use your domain i.e. www.oyster-web.co.uk.
Exception to Determining Geography using the Netcraft toolbar
As of 28th November 2005 we have found a problem with using the netcraft toolbar and the results given back by MSN to determine the geographical location of a web host. While discussing the needs of a prospective client we noticed a strange search engine result anomally. In the geogrpahic results for the UK for this site their site appeared in Google UK results (enter search “”site:www.domain.com””) and Yahoo UK (enter search “”domain:www.domain.com””) results but not in the MSN UK results (enter search “”site:www.domain.com””). The display from Netcraft listed the host company as not being seen as facing a UK market.
Why this anomally in Geographic Host between the Search Engines?
If you look at the who-is data for the domains hosted by washbox.net you find that they are based in the UK, as backed up by Google, Yahoo! and Netcraft test results. However when you do a trace on the route, go to DNS Stuff and do a Trace Route on the server IP, 126.96.36.199. You will find that the final server is located in France, it appears that the UK is a proxy server. Surely enough when searching www.msn.fr for them they appear in the index with their full site having been indexed.
What does this prove about the Geographic location of hosts and search engine results?
Simply search engine do use the location of your host to determine the target market for a site. You must check exactly where your host is located or you could be losing out on organic search engine results and the traffic this could be bringing to your business. Check Netcraft, Google UK results , Yahoo! UK results and MSN UK results and ensure that they all match. As not all search engines are created equal dont trust one single source of information. If something appears strange it may well be something is ‘queering’ your results.