Google’s John Mueller was asked what’s the right way to target a specific country with a website. The person asking the question asked if a country code top level domain specific to the country and the location of the hosting was important.
Geotargeting is a reference to the practice of targeting a website (or section of a website) to a specific country.
There are benefits to geotargeting. Many people trust and feel at ease with a website that is targeted at a specific country, particularly with a country code top level domain (ccTLD) that is specific to their country.
Geotargeting also allows a marketer to segment their audience by country.
Google’s John Mueller Shares Two Ways to Geotarget a Country
Country Code Top Level Domain (cc-TLD)
A country code top level domain, commonly known as ccTLD is a domain name that is specific to a country.
It’s different from the more common generic top level domains (gTLDs), domains that consist of, .com, .net and .org, plus others, that can be used in any country.
A ccTLD is a domain that is specific to a country and tells users in that country that the website is specific to a country.
Related: The Complete Guide to Local SEO for Multiple Locations
Is a ccTLD Necessary to Rank in a Specific Country?
The person asking the question wanted to rank a site in a specific country.
He used Germany as an example country in his question.
Here is the question:
“…regarding web hosting and domain registration.
Suppose I want to launch a site in Germany… is it required that I get a dot DE domain registered in Germany and website hosted in Germany for SEO?”
Google’s John Mueller did not hesitate or pause to think before answering. His answer was unambiguous.
He said that there are two ways to geotarget a specific country.
John Mueller answered:
“No, it’s not required.
In general, if you want to use geotargeting there, there are two ways to do that.
One is to use the country level top-level domain, which would dot DE for Germany in that case.
The other is to use a generic top-level domain and to use a geotargeting setting in search console.
So that could be, for example, a dot Com website or dot Net or dot Info or dot EU or whatever.
Any of those would also work and then you just set geotargeting for Germany.”
Related: Multilingual SEO: A Guide to URL Structure
Is Hosting in a Country Required for Ranking in that Country?
John Mueller next discussed hosting requirements, noting that hosting in the targeted country was a requirement in the past but that’s no longer required.
“The hosting location is also not required.
That’s something that way in the early days before we had the setting in Search Console, we used the hosting location as a way to guess which country the website might be targeting.
But nowadays… I don’t think that’s used at all.
And with a content delivery network if you have kind of a fancy international website, then the hosting location doesn’t matter anyway because you always have some local presence automatically.”
Google Search Console has an easy way to help publishers target countries.
According to Google’s international targeting developer page:
“International Targeting Report
Use the International Targeting report to monitor your hreflang errors, or to choose a country that should be prioritized for your search results.
This report has the following sections:
- The Language section: Monitor the usage and errors of hreflang tags on your site.
- The Country section: Set a site-wide country target for your entire site, if desired.”
The Google Search Console International Targeting Report makes it easy to target a specific country for ranking in Google.
Managing Multi-regional and Multilingual Sites
Google Search Console International Targeting Report
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 1:08 minute mark