Google Webmaster Tools (now known as Google Search Console) is a set of extremely helpful utilities provided to those who develop and manage websites, web content and search engine optimization (SEO). One of these utilities allows you to set geographic target for your website. Let’s know more about it.
Some websites have content that is primarily targeted for a particular country or language. As a result, the content of such websites will not be of high importance to the other areas in the world. The said utility in the webmaster tools allows you to set a geographic area which you think is the target of your website’s content. You can select a country from the given list as your target. To access this option, log into Webmaster Tools and then go to the button with gear icon in the top-right corner and select Site Settings from the drop-down menu.
When you set a geographic target, lets say UK, your website may begin to rank higher in the Google search results delivered to the folks living in the UK. Obviously, a lot of other factors also matter in deciding the rank of your website –but setting UK as target country will let Google know that your website’s content is more useful for the people living in the UK. And therefore Google will give slightly higher priority to your website over the websites that have no such setting.
The downside is that your website’s ranking in other countries may fall. So, you should not play geographic target setting as a dirty trick. You should set a geographic target only and only if your website’s target customers really reside in a particular country. For example, if your website has Hindi language content –then it is likely that most of your traffic would come from India where Hindi is one of the main languages. In such a case, you can set India as your geographic target. For another example, if you’re the provider of certain local services in the USA –then you can safely assume that someone from Spain is not your target customer. And thus, you can set the USA as your target country.
You should give it a careful thought before opting for a geographic target. It’s not something to play with and do trial-and-error stuff. Soon after setting a geo target –you may find drastic change in your search rankings on various Google domains (like google.com, google.co.uk etc.) If these results are not that of your liking and you wish to change geo target –it has been noticed that it takes several months for your rankings coming back to the level where they were before you got into geo target stuff. It has also been noticed that your overall search traffic will go down because your site might be demoted in the rest of the world. Traffic slowly decreases over several months.
I personally don’t think that a technology blogger should set a particular geo target. Tech blogs cater to the readers all over the world and therefore should not target a specific area. For example, if you write about mobile phones –your articles will have same relevance everywhere in the world. Some people suggest that targeting countries like USA, Canada and UK will increase your Google AdSense earning. I am against this notion too. You may (and it’s a big MAY) gain on CPC because CPC from American advertisers is higher but you will lose heavily on traffic from countries like India and China. These developing countries may have low CPC but they can send large amount of search traffic to your website and thereby negate the effect of high CPC from USA. Having said all that, the crux of the matter is that setting geo target is a good choice if your website really caters to a specific geographic area. But it should not be used as a tool to increase your online income by getting higher CPC. Such an attempt may prove to be counter-productive.
I hope this article answered your question. Let me know what you of think about geo target in Google Webmaster Tools (which has recently been renamed as Google Search Console).