Let’s talk a bit about what you can and can’t do with the Google Search Console and also how to use it. So to start out, a brief history behind this tool. Previously, Google used to look at a couple signals to determine where a site was located or what particular region the site might be especially relevant to. And those signals included the server location of the website– where the website was hosted– and also the TLD or top-level domain of the website
So for example, if you had a website that ended in .fr, which is the TLD, or top-level domain, for France, this would send Google a signal that the content of that website might be especially relevant to searchers in France. But this was a problem for some websites, because some sites use a geographically neutral TLD, or top-level domain, such as .com or .net, and they may host their website in a location that is different from where their actual business is located.
Say hosting is cheaper in a different country from yours. So without either of these signals, Google might not be able to return the website for relevant locally-targeted searches, which is why we built the geotargeting tool, so that you could let us know if your site is especially relevant to a particular region. And we can then serve users better who are searching from that region. So a couple examples of when you might want to use or not use this tool. If you had a website that was for a business or organization that was located in a particular region, you might want to geotarget the site to that region. This also plays a significant role in your website’s overall SEO service strategy.
So for example, if I have a furniture store that’s located in Canada, and somebody in Australia is searching for furniture, my site is probably not relevant to them, because they want to just go get something that’s located in their area. And therefore if I geotargeted my website to Canada, I would be able to more accurately reach searchers who are searching within the Canada region who might be nearer to my store. Another example of when you might want to geotarget is if you have content that’s especially relevant to a particular location. So say for example I had a website all about the Wisconsin state tax code. I’d probably want to geotarget this website to the United States, because people outside of the United States probably aren’t interested in our tax codes.
Finally, if you had a global or international website that had specific subsections of the site that were targeted to different countries– say you had a set-up like this, where you have different subdomains for each of the different countries that your website serves– you could individually go in and geotarget each of those subdomains to the different region that each one is relevant to. So an example of a time when you probably wouldn’t want to use the geotargeting tool is if you were trying to target a particular language or a group of users who speak a language. So say for example I have a website in French. I wouldn’t want to geotarget myself to France, because then I might be missing out on French-speaking people in Canada, in the Middle East, anywhere in the world, really.
So if you’re trying to target a particular language group, generally geographic targeting would not be right for your website. So a couple examples of what actually happens once you’ve geotargeted your website. Here’s an example. Say I was searching on google.ca, which is Google Canada, and I entered my query here and then I selected the Search only pages from Canada option. If you had geotargeted the .ca subdomain of your website to Canada, it would be more likely for us to return that results in the Canadian search results, because we know this is a page that is relevant to Canada.
Whereas it would be less likely for us to return your Australian or your United Kingdom content. But if a searcher searches using the default setting of Search the entire web, then it’s possible that content from any of the different subsections of your website could show up. The only instance in which geotargeting affects your site and search results is when searchers limit their search to a particular geographic location.
So now that we know a bit more about what the tool does, I’ll walk you through a bit of how to use it. You can geotarget in Webmaster Tools either just a generic, straight-up domain– your whole site. You can add and target individual subfolders on your site, and you can also add and geotarget subdomains on your website. So in order to do so, you would need to add individually each of these subfolders or subdomains. Add each of them as a website in your Webmaster Tools account, and then go in for each one and set the geographic location accordingly.
One neat thing is that if you have a subfolder set up on your website, like this, you can add and verify the top-level domain in your Webmaster Tools account, and after that, each subfolder that you add to your account will be automatically verified, because subfolders are sort of underneath the ownership of the whole site. So once you’ve verified that you own the top level, all of these will automatically become verified for you. If you do have a subdomain set up, you’ll need to add and verify each of these subdomains individually. But once you’ve done that, you can go in and set the geographic targeting of each of those websites accordingly.