In Chapter 3, we explain that search engines often use the preferred language and the location of the searcher to help match them to the right results.  Some languages, such as English and Spanish, are spoken in multiple countries, so the search engines need to guess at which country pages written in those languages are targeted for.  In addition, you might have different prices, options, and offers for each market, so you need to make sure that the search engines understand which version of your site to use for each country.

Most search engines use the following signals (in decreasing order of importance) to guess the country of a web domain:

  1. Country specific domainthe Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD), such as or .de
  2. Locally Hosted – the country in which the site has its web servers (for example, a .com site hosted in Germany is considered a German site)
  3. Single Country language – the language of a site, when the language is spoken in just one country, such as Japanese or Thai
  4. Webmaster Tools Geo Targeting – the country that you’ve set for your website in your Webmaster Tools account
  5. Local inbound links – the country that most of the links to your website are from
  6. Schema Address details – the mailing address of your business as shown on your website
  7. Language Metatags – the country associated with the language set in your HTML language metatag (Bing only)

Your Webmaster Tools account in each search engine allows you to set the geographic location for each country version of your website.  This is especially important if you are using a generic top level domain (such as .com), while using sub directories (such as /de) or subdomains (such as  Check out a complete list of generic domains known as “geographical targetable domains.”