The Importance of Geography

What is the importance of geography for your website?

The importance of geography and language in optimising a website is paramount.

Google is a global infrastructure with a granular, local reach, therefore, it needs to understand precisely which Geographical and Language markets your content is intended for – otherwise, it will never be able to give you the authority you aspire to achieve in the markets you are aiming at.

This is one of the most common failures in poorly delivered on page SEO.

If your site has been developed from a theme, it is likely the theme will have this information coded in as standard – most reference the US for all English, for example.

However, if you are based in the UK and your content is aimed at English-speaking users in Great Britain, having a default language reference could be costing you a great deal of potential authority, traffic and revenue.

How do I check?

The simplest way to check whether your website is pointing at the right audience is to right click on your website, select ‘Inspect’ and you will be able to view the HTML code.

It’s the piece of code top and centre that we are interested in here. As you can see, this website (or a subdomain thereof) is set-up specifically to target English speakers in Great Britain – this is identifiable by the code ‘lang=”en-GB”.

However, what do you do if your website has content aimed at more than one territory?

The best way to accomplish this is to use a subdomain structure, separating your website into portions, each with its own predefined geographical and language target. A great example is Apple’s website – if you go to apple.com and right-click, inspect, and click the drop down to reveal the code in the section labelled ‘head’, you will see the following:

What this code tells search engines is that the UK subdomain I am using to access the site is (apple.com/uk) has a parent (canonical) URL apple.com, which is targeting English speakers in the US. But it also gives instructions to search engines on where to direct users that approach the website from any other territory – i.e. sending them to the part of the website which is more relevant to them.

For example, as these listings are alphabetical, the first subdomain listed under the .com canon is for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates – this is identified as: apple.com/ae-ar HREFLANG AR-AE

Next, its English speakers in the UAE, identified by apple.com/ae HREFLANG EN-AE

In this instance, the search engine is being instructed to direct the user to two different language variants within the same geographical territory – the search engine will be able to determine which is most applicable from the users browser language settings.

This is known as a HREFLANG tag structure and is very easy to get wrong – it is believed that around 85% of websites are set-up incorrectly.

Brandseam operates international digital strategies for both PPC & organic search campaigns from our head office in Preston, UK, reaching from Seattle to Sydney. Understanding the global infrastructure of search engine’s such as Google, allows us to accurately the right location and language settings, ensuring the user is presented with the content tailored to them. This improves conversions and makes the best possible use of the global search infrastructure.

We hope we’ve helped explain why the importance of geography is so important. If you need assistance with your language targeting, international optimisation or domain structure, please do not hesitate to get in touch and speak to a member of our team.

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