Not Listed In Your Own Country's Searches?

Many of you have emailed me with this problem. "I'm showing up fine on a Worldwide Web search but when I check the box to search only my country I'm not listed - at all!" It's very common and the way to rectify it is to take yourself back a step and think like a human. If you were asked 'What Country Are You From?' What would you say? What if they asked you to prove it? Simple - you show them your passport, your birth certificate and tell them your name and address so they can look you up on a computer and verify that you are actually from the country you say you are.

Despite the super advanced technology of the web, it still relies on human ways of doing things as it is humans who have to do the programming and tell the technology how to work. Therefore, a search engine will use the same techniques to verify what country you’re from as a human would:

Your passport: Although your information is downloaded by computers all over the world your web site information is held on the hard drive of a server at a fixed point which is located using an IP address. IP addresses are country specific and every IP address is logged as belonging to a certain country. If you are hosting your web site in the USA, Canada, Australia or Germany then your IP address will be one from this country. In this way, a search engine knows where your web site is being held and therefore, which country your web site is most likely to be aimed at.
There are good and bad points for search engines to use IP addresses to filter their search engine results.
One good point is that this is a very simple way of removing spam from the search engine as a spammer would have to pay for hosting in every country to spam any given country search index. This would cost the spammer a lot of money and therefore most would not do it.
The main bad points are that this filters out genuine sites that have just simply chosen to be hosted in another country due to costs. It also filters out country specific versions of a site, if a large US company launches a UK version of its site they will most likely just host it on their US servers rather than spend money to rent out a building, build servers and then staff a UK office. In my opinion, IP filtering for countries is not the way to go. Although many of the larger search engines do not completely filter out dependant on IP address, web sites considered ‘not originating’ from a county seem to be pushed down in the search results though this is hard to prove as domain names come in to it also. Which leads me to the second point:

Your Birth Certificate: If you are a UK web site, you would have a domain ending in and if you are a French web site you would have a domain ending in .fr, right? Well, search engines wish we would do this but it is not the case. Some of us provide international services and therefore use the .com suffix so as not to scare of potential overseas customers. Of course this leaves the search engines with a problem, the only way to tell it a .com web site is from the UK is to check it’s IP address, but if they use IP addresses to filter then that brings in a whole host of problems. Catch22.

Your Name and Address: The entire web and every domain is registered somewhere. If you buy a domain name your details are registered against that domain in the WhoIs database. For example, the entry for looks like this:

Google Inc. (DOM-258879)
2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy
Mountain View CA 94043 US

Administrative Contact:
DNS Admin (NIC-1340142) Google Inc.
2400 E. Bayshore Pkwy
Mountain View CA 94043 US

Domain servers in listed order:


this tells us that is registered to a US company and is hosted on US servers with US IP addresses. If you look up you get this:
Google Inc

Registrant's Address:
2400 Bayshore Parkway
Mountain View

Name servers listed in order:

this shows that is owned by a US company and is hosted on US servers with a US IP address. You can check the WhoIs database for your web site by visiting for all .com, .net, .org domain names and for all UK domain names.

So what does this show? You can't change your birth certificate, if it says you were born in France then that's where you were born. The same goes for .fr suffixes - they only come from France. Your passport can be changed at anytime by migration, even if your UK site is hosted in the US the suffix will tell them you are aiming at the UK. In this way a US .com web site that wants UK business can have a UK IP address to show its intentions.
If you want to ensure that your site is ranked well in a country specific index then you either have to own a domain name with a suffix from that country or your web site has to be hosted in that country. A domain name hosted in the US will show up if you search ‘UK Only’ on a search engine as will a .com or .net if it has a UK IP address. Search engines will most likely keep to this rule as they cannot go completely one way or the other. Only allowing country specific suffixes would lose a large chunk of important and useful web sites and only allowing country specific IP addresses would do the same. As long as you have one or the other you are safe. My recommendation if you are an international site is to purchase a .com and be hosted in your country of origin. This means that you will be included in your own country index and in ‘Worldwide Web’ searches for other countries.
Remember, if you show someone a French passport and a French birth certificate they're not going to believe you are from Germany even if you look German.

Written by Michael Beverley
Director, Internet Heaven

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