Good and Bad of International Targeting in Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) 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 International Targeting for your website. Some time ago this feature used to be called geographic target. Let’s know more about it.

What is International Targeting (Geographic Target) in Google Search Console

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 Search Console 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 Google Search Console.

Go to Search Traffic menu in the sidebar > International Targeting > Country tab as shown in the following image:

Setting International Geographic Target in Google Search Console

Here you will see a dropdown list of countries labeled as Target users in. Tick this box and select the country you want to target.

 

Benefits of Setting International Target

When you set a international 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.

Bad Effects of  Setting International Target

The downside is that your website’s ranking in other countries may fall. So, you should not play international target setting as a dirty trick. You should set a geographic target only and only if your website’s target audience 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 a 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.

Don’t Play with International Target Setting

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 to come back to the level where they were before you got into the 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.

What’s in it for Tech Bloggers

I personally don’t think that a technology blogger should set a particular geo target in Google Search Console. 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 qualified 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 the international 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 international targeting in Google Search Console.

83 thoughts on “Good and Bad of International Targeting in Google Search Console”

  1. Hi there. Nice article! Just a quick question: If my website uses only one language = Spanish .. and I work as a freelance… How can I achieve to get customers worldwide ( those who speak Spanish ) instead of only from Spain? I mean in Google Search Console I suppose I have to choose NO target country ( no listing ) right? And later on, if I plan to add the /en/ lang .. the same I shouldn’t target a country right? As my intention to get customers worldwide speaking that/those languages. Please let me know. Best REgards, Mihai Dobre

  2. hi
    my site was targeting to Australia and it is ranking there however now I have changed it to “unlisted“ as I want traffic and ranks from all over the world. As of now, I don`t see any traffic from any other country. So, should I keep unlisted for few months or should I untick the targeting option all together and let Google decide.
    How do I rank my website globally?

  3. Now finally I understand the downside is that your website’s ranking in other countries may fall. So, you should not play international target setting as a dirty trick.

  4. Hello,
    My website is based on programming. Also content is in English language. How will that affect if i use targeting country (i am from INDIA)?
    Thanks

  5. Such an amazing and clearly written article! I’ve already had this problem when I did change the target country earlier.

  6. Thanks for this informative article. I saw this International targeting on my search console and was wondering what would happen to my search rankings in the long run if I enabled it so I decided to do some research. After reading this post I have decided to keep it off.

  7. Thanks for article. I have been fighting, whether or not to set Geographic Targeting for my tech site, but this post was very helpful in making my decision.

  8. We are into online class having students in all parts of the world. After changing the Geographic target to USA, the PAYPAL option on our website is not working. It gives PHP error on our website.

    Google has removed the currency converter from API which converts the INR to dollar for paypal process. Is this because of changing the Geographic target or is there some other reason?.

  9. I used the Geo targeting on my website.. Traffic from around the world gets to zero. All rankings fall down and i have just US traffic..I messed up my website.

  10. Dear Lalit,

    Thank you so much for providing this valuable article. I am running one website. and my website is targeting many countries. Unfortunately i set my country target India. Because of this my website is ranking good in India but outside of India not.

    Now i want to set my country location none as i did mistake before. But fearing to lose website rank. what should i do in this case please advise. I am waiting for reply.

    1. Hi Winser, fear not! Just make the change and keep publishing good material on your website. If your ranking dip for sometime, it will come back certainly. There is nothing else that you can do. So, better change geo target to International and be done with it.

  11. Although my services are in English, my services are virtual; therefore, they are global. This article helped me to decide on Unlisted rather than geo-targeting United States.

    Also, the Geographic Target feature is no longer under Site Settings. It is in the left-hand side menu under Search Traffic and it is called International Targeting.

  12. Sir your article is very helpful.

    Actually my blog is in English and at first, I had selected the target country in the USA, and now I have changed the target country in Unlisted to get global traffic. But, now traffic is not coming on my website after changing the target country. Sir Can you tell me that where is my mistake, and how much take time to solve this problem.
    Please help me. Thanks.

    1. If you change geographic target in Google Search Console, it may take some time before Google’s algorithm adjusts your ranking accordingly. Also, low traffic on your website may be caused by some other factors. It is not safe to assume that you lost traffic solely because of changing geographic target in Search Console.

  13. bro you gave me the perfect answer to my question. I was really confused about geo targeting as I have a movies and tv shows website. I was confused on how to geo target my website. Your post solved everything. Thanks

  14. Hello techwelkin.com,

    Thank you for providing this information but I am still in doubt regarding my website geo-targetting in webmasters tools.

    Actually my website is related to Sarkari Naukri / Government Jobs in India. That’s why I linked my website to geo-target of India.

    But I am not geting the good traffic in comparison of other website.

    Can you please help regarding this.

    Thank you for giving your valuable support in advance.

    1. Your website should be geo-targeted to India. Your website may have other issues that are causing low traffic. Analyze them and take appropriate actions.

  15. Hi Lalit,
    Thank you for a wonderful information & insight GWT
    My website is new & my target audience is USA (not selling in India) & have a .com domain
    Can I set geography setting to only USA
    Which is best option ion my case. Thanks in advance

  16. Hello Lalit,
    this post will be very useful to many bloggers. And also, I want to add the facts that google does is,
    If no information is entered in Search Console, Google relies largely on the site’s country domain (such as .ca, .de). If you use an international domain (.com, .org, .eu), we’ll rely on several signals, including IP address, location information on the page, links to the page, and any relevant information from Google My Business. If you change hosting provider for a country domain, there should be no impact. If you change the hosting provider of an international domain to a provider in another country, we recommend using Search Console to tell us which country your site should be associated with.

  17. Hi,
    I liked what you wrote, thanks for the information.
    After reading what you wrote, I have one question: If my site is intended for 3-5 countries, shouldn’t I open relevant domains and point each domain to its specific country? For example – xyz.com for the US, xyz.uk for the UK, etc.

    Thanks again for the info :)

    1. Yes, that would make sense. But you must be sure if you can handle multiple sites. Also, if all the domain names will host the same information, all your websites would be penalized by Google for copying content. If you want to target 3-5 countries, you better target the whole world.

  18. This is a great post. I was always confused about how to target my websites. I am not going to target my website to a particular country since i want all my search visitors to come from all parts of the world.

  19. Thank you for the post. I was worrying for my WordPress Website as I changed target country to US. Then I noticed that my traffic is falling. Then I read your post and set it to default. Thank you very much. :)

  20. My client has a site set up a example.com that ranks well in the US (currently no geo-targeting specified in Google Search Console) but our visibility in the UK is also very low. If we created an example.com/uk/ subfolder and geo-targeted just that subfolder and left the .com as unlisted, would that help with UK visibility and prevent a loss of other international traffic to the .com?

    Thank you in advance!

  21. Thanks for your post – I actually changed my geo location from the US to nothing because of this – hopefully it works well

  22. Hi, I have .in domain, when I submitted it to Google Webmaster it automatically select geographic area INDIA, but I want to optimize my site in USA or google.com

    what should I do?

  23. My website is on online tutoring company. We provide UK, US Indian curriculum to students from all over the world. Then how can I target specific audience? Is it good to create separate sites in different countries in order to target different people?

    1. Hi Mark, you should not use Geo Targeting. Also, you should not create separate websites for different countries. If your content is good and relevant, Google will automatically increase your rank.

  24. After I set the target country to US I got a lot less traffic from other countries as well several weeks after, I decided to turn it off and haven’t seen my old visitor numbers come back just yet.

  25. Ours is a business magazine website and target is international readers except India. So how can I geotarget all countries except India in google webmaster tools settings? Do I need to change domain from .com to .org as a common url?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. At present Google does not allow such geotargetting. Changing the domain name will not help you and in fact it would be a very bad idea to change domain from .com to .org

  26. if the domain name is registered as “.in”, then is it targeted only for India. In google search console it only shows target country as India. Do I need to change the domain name from .in to .com? Please help. Thanks.

    1. .in domains are by default targeted for India because .in is considered as an Indian website. If you want international targeting, you will have get country-neutral domains like .com, .org, .net etc.

  27. dude how to target most countries; instead of specific countries?
    What config I have to do to target visitors from all over world normally. Because I am working on niche that suits for most of countries so I have to target a good position in google.com instead of google sub country domains.

    1. If you want to target “most” of the countries -you better don’t touch Geographic Targeting in Google Search Console.

  28. Hi. I am building a website with a .com domain. The website uses client ip country code to deliver auto redirect dynamic contents. For example if client browser IP is from canada english it is mydomain.com/en/ca… if from UK it will be mydomain.com/en/uk…how will my seo ranking be on that specific geographic location?

    1. This question is not relevant to the topic of this article. However, your ranking will depend obviously on how useful the content is for the searchers of that specific location.

      1. Hi, a link to my article on the difference between website and blog is given in the above article. You can read that article.

  29. I feel geo targeting in Google has not come of age. Its just country specific. Why not have it region specific or continent specific too?

    I want to promote my site to only the Gulf nations (set of few countries), and I am left with no choice to set any geo targeting. Its bad :(

    Is there a way out?

    Thanks in advance for your help..
    Nitin

    1. Geagraphic targeting is only country specific. It is either a country or the whole globe. Unfortunately you can not select regions, group of countries or continents.

  30. Thanks Lalit for this informative post that dares to speak real truth against the prevailing current of targeting USA, UK for higher AdSense earnings which are abysmal compared to loss of international traffic!

    I myself could to see traffic from various Eastern and Northern European countries completely vanish for my General blog etherealinsights.blogspot.in after fiddling with geo targeting techniques.

    Wish I had read this candid post earlier. Thanks!

    1. Satyajeet, you’re not alone! A lot of bloggers (especially Indian bloggers) fall in the trap of “get more traffic from USA”. Google is a serious business nd they have set everything precisely. So, it is best to pay attention to what Google says. They have clearly written how and why Geographic Target feature should be used. Anyway, I saw your blog, it’s a good one. You should write more frequently.

  31. My site is about India travel guide and ranking OK type in Google. But I have selected India as a targeted country in Google Webmasters Tools. What if I change it from India to Default? Will I loss all rank in Google India and get higher in .com domain?

    My hosting location is USA, but I know people do less searches in other countries about India travel. What you will be recommended. Should I continue it, or change it to default to get some abroad traffic.

    P.S. My website has 95% traffic from India, I want traffic from abroad (because of AdSense), but don’t want to loss current data :(

    Waiting for your kind response!

    1. Gaurav, if your target audience is in India only then the geotarget should be set to India. It does not matter you’re hosting your website. I do not think you will gain much by setting geo target to USA (many Indian bloggers are tempted to do so). So, my recommendation would be to leave it as it is.

      1. No. I mean if I do not select any country in Google Webmaster Tools (and remove India as targeted country), then there will be some chances for ranking higher in USA/UK etc…

        If I do this, will I loss my all ranking in Google India?

        Thanks for your prior response Lalit!

        1. If you set geo target as Default… I guess, your US/UK rank may go up but you may also lose something in India. See it’s highly complicated. No one knows how Google works. If you ask me, soon this geo target thing is going to be redundant anyway. Google is now so powerful that it does not need webmaster’s input on what should be the target audience of the content. Google is able to decide on it own.

  32. Thank you for sharing and giving insight about this Geo targeting thing. I was too confused about this. What you pointed out about USA, UK for higher CPC.. is definitely a very wrong idea.For a tech related blog that would be a suicide mission.

    1. Ben, I am glad that the article was of help for you. If you’ve a tech blog, better not set any specific geographic target in Google Webmasters Tools.

    1. Anjum, geographic target does not affect so quickly. There must be other reasons why the website traffic is going down. And anyway you should not judge the website traffic just by one day. Web traffic keeps going up and down slightly. It’s natural.

  33. Thanks sir, you gave a very nice info. I m new in blogging. and may you tell how can set multiple geographic locations for more visiblity of my blog.

  34. Hi.
    I have yarmobile.com domain. My customers are – for now – mainly in Poland.
    I do SEO actions for Polish heywords for Polish markets.
    For now I have set Poland as my country targeting in Google Webmaster Tools.

    But I have also versions of my pages in other languages. For now I am planning AdWords for those markets, but I would like my webiste to rank in other languages too.

    So my QUESTION if I may is:
    will my search results in Polish drop in google.pl if I set International targetting (remove my target Poland)?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Jarek, I don't see any reason why your Google search rank will drop in Poland. You can set geographic target as International.

  35. Hi Lalit , I found this article very helpful . I wanted to increase my web traffic and therefore targeted USA . My traffic comes more from USA than any other country . I have just started my blog but My friends blog is targeted to india and still he is getting more traffic from USA than me . How is this possible ?

    1. Hi Sarfaraz, I think you have misunderstood the Geographic Targeting feature under Google Webmaster tools. Many people deliberately select USA as their target because they think they will get higher CPC rates from USA traffic. But it does not work that way! You should use geographic targeting when your content is *really* meant for a particular country. For example, if you have a dental clinic somewhere in USA, then you should target USA because your customer base is in the US. For general content, Google itself decide how to rank a website in a particular country.

  36. Hello,

    After i changed the geographic target form "Brasil" to "not listed" in my website, i have noticed a traffic drop in the following days.

    What can i do? Change the target again, or waiting to see the results. Can i expect a increase in the next weeks?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Pedro, if your website's content is aimed at the people of your country, it is better to set geographic target in Google Webmaster Tools. Otherwise you should let it be the default one. Geographic target shows real results after a couple of months. So, if you want to see what impact your change to "Brasil" is going to have, I would recommend that you wait for some more time.

      1. Hi Lalit,

        My website is dedicated to two countries (Brasil and Portugal), so in your opinion, i must leave the target option to "not listed"?

  37. Doctors Beyond Borders

    Hi, i have health care website and i want target to all African cities, but using Geo in Webmasters i can only target to One specific country, not all Africa. What i need to do to target the all area?

    1. Google does not allow continental or regional International Targeting. You can either select a specific country or don’t opt for geo targeting at all.

  38. Hey lalit,
    Currently i set geographic location to usa and my rankings are high in google.com compare to google.co.in. but now i start posting content for indian peoples. so i need high rankings in google.co.in not in google.com.
    so i need to change my geographic location from usa to india. and plz also tell me how much days this take after showing me best results in google.co.in.
    thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Inderjeet, It may take several months for Google to revamp your ranking in India. I just had a look at your blog. I don’t see any need for you to change your Geo target.

  39. Nice article buy I’ve some doubts. I’ve a Tech blog centered at mobiles and tablets. The data is relevance to all locations however, All my affiliate’s are based in India. So is it a good choice to target India or keep it International?

    1. I would suggest that you keep it International because Google’s geographic targeting is all about relevance of your material to the visitors. Affiliates do not play a role in this.

  40. Good info Lalit.

    Geo targeting is originally intended for localized services like say a local construction firm that caters to same region clients and so their domain set to geotarget the same country as they are in would make sense.

    Doing this just to increase Adsense CPC is shortsighted and rather discriminatory in my opinion especially in case of tech blogs and other non-localized niches because this would mean unequal treatment of visitors who visit blog looking for the same information and help purely because they come from low CPC countries.

  41. My site is very new and I was more inclined towards setting the Geographic target to USA. Having read this, I change my mind.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    1. I had also changed my mind in 5-10 minutes after reading this article. Will it take time in Google ranking? My website is new.

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