Doesn’t Cutts get Europe?

Ok, this is a bit of a bold statement, does Cutts get Europe? It seems like he doesn’t, at least if you look at the answer he is giving on a question Dave Davis asked. Davis asked:

“AdWords allows (and it’s pretty accurate) location targeting. Why can’t you guys allow multiple country targeting in Webmaster Tools instead of just one? It would solve an age old problem for webmasters targeting multiple countries.”

This is something which has been bothering me for a while. For example when I was at Searchcowboys I really wanted to target Europeans. That was impossible, it was either the Dutch or the US or the world. Here’s what Cutts answered:

In my opinion this is an answer which is too easy. “People might click all the countries”. What!?

I think Cutts is taking the American approach here. US sites tend to focus on the US. Multiple countries are not important for US siteowners, so probably a US-Googler might think the same. Which means he doesn’t understand that for example in Europe there are multiple countries you might want to target who in the US might not even be as big as two states. Just think about Ireland / UK or Netherlands / Belgium, Belgium / France, Germany / Austria etcetera.

What do you think?

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

10 thoughts on “Doesn’t Cutts get Europe?

  1. I think in some extremely round about way, Matt has brought up an issue with specific country targeting, since there are still many people that believe a website can target the every country, rank, etc since they have a website. Not taking into account geolocation, hosting, local data centres etc etc and all the factors involved. So in some way his answer simply confirms how many people still do not understand international and local rankings.

    I’m sure it would be a quick fix for WMT to simply provide additional country options to target. Someone so eager to “tag” (LOL) check all options, well, no comment on that.

    Must admit, i’ve never had much luck with the geo targeting in WMT, i found we had better results simply changing hosting. But then again, Europe as you say is a completely different ball game.

    My 2 cents though, i could be completely off mark here

  2. I think I would be willing to pay for Webmaster Tools if I got bet quality tools and targeting from it! The short of it is he is right about the spamming thing, there are too many idiots out there willing to try anything to get a small advantage for a small amount of time.

    There is a lot that Google can do to improve Webmaster Tools but at the same time knowing how they have made the odd mistake in the past chances are they could make a right mess of it at the same time.

  3. I agree with you Bas, I think Matt is being extremely short-sighted here. Just because an option could be abused by some stupid website owners doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist at all for those sites that can make proper use of it.

    That and I disagree with something stated in the original question: Google’s geotargeting is NOT accurate – especially in the UK and Ireland, where ISPs operate from all over the place. This leads to, for example, Northern Ireland internet users often being seen as coming from London, Dublin, or even bloody Glasgow. Which makes proper geotargeting nearly impossible – Google, in their typical exceptionally ignorant handling of country-specific issues, lumps all of the UK together and barely distinguishes the UK from Ireland.

  4. Whilst I do agree with Matt that there is a huge probability that people will check every box to target other countries (because they can) I see straight away that it’s penalising the upstanding webmasters out there. I haven’t got any figures, but if 20% of webmasters would suffer because the 80% are just spamming every territory they can then Google need to find a solution to correct this.

  5. For me, with many clients based in Ireland, there are a lot of cases where we would target Ireland and UK — or all of Europe — or all English speaking countries — or all the World. In marketing it is best to be specific in who you target, but I’d rather choose that in my content and SEO (probably a lot through the links we’ve built) rather than Google determining it for me based on my domain or hosting location.

    I noticed in Webmaster tools a little while back that all of my .ie sites are automatically set as targeted for Ireland, where I had them not specifically targeting anywhere. Many would be holiday accommodation, English language training, etc. — sites that would be targeting people outside the country more than people inside the country. I’d say in Europe each country is so small that most of us would be targeting a much wider audience than within our own countries — and many would be targeting the US because of the numbers of users and that they are probably more likely to shop online, etc.

    Maybe after Matt’s tour of Europe he’ll feel differently. It did come up when he spoke to us in Dublin, but he just spoke generally about how Google determines what country a site is from. We didn’t have time to get him to discuss it further.

  6. Yeah, this is badly needed. The Ireland / Northern Ireland issue is a real pain to deal with in this regard. We’re an ecommerce company and it costs the same for us to ship to Ireland and to Northern Ireland yet we’re forced to choose between them.

  7. Geotargeting is indeed a mess, and Google (and perhaps most Americans) don’t seem to have a clear international perspective on it. Of course part of the historical problem is the .com .org and .net TLDs and the fact that they are at one and the same time non-geographical, assumed to be American, and in the case of .com the only addresses that non-technical businessmen know about or rate.

    If was actually used they might have a better understanding but even then the fact that the USA is so large compared to, for instance, Europe still skews their thinking. Europe is increasingly borderless but the situation with domains doesn’t reflect this. Language issues raise further complications – France/Belgium, Germany/Austria/Switzerland.

    Using a .com (even if it’s available) doesn’t always help much and SEOs will be familiar with the sort of horror stories where because a company has their site hosting in the wrong country (a well-known UK hosting company has their servers in Germany) they get rankings in the wrong country. I even had one strange one where although the hosts servers were in England their IP address was showing up as being in France.

    Finally there is the other problem of what the average user is searching on and how Google handles it. Some users are unaware that the default search on Google UK is worldwide results rather than UK-only and that they have to click on the appropriate link to get supposedly UK-only (though even there US results often appear and for a while last year there were lots of them and even Australian ones appearing – something else that Matt didn’t seem to grasp the importance of). It has always baffled me why, when they deliberately redirect to, the worldwide results are a strange hybrid somewhere between and UK-only. They really need to allow us to target our results to what we want much better – sometimes I’ll want local results and sometimes I want the widest possible spread. Until they get that sorted out then the chances of them fixing WMT targeting is slim indeed.

  8. The thing is, Europe/EU is a free trade area market. Therefore, if I am in Ireland my customer base is across all EU countries as Ireland is part of the EU and shares a currency. If I select Ireland in WMT, which is one of the smallest markets in the EU, I am at a disadvantage and I am penalised for it. It’s also an issue with regards Ireland and the UK. If I live in the republic of Ireland, I’ll be only targeting southern Ireland as the North is UK. Frankly, it’s bloody ridiculous and google need to address it. There should be an option for EU which includes UK and Ireland and the rest of the EU members and there should be an option for Ireland/UK.

Comments are closed.