Geotargeting with Google Webmaster Tools

We assume you are familiar with Google Webmaster Tools. You probably have already submitted your sitemaps and regularly check if these are indexed or whether Google reports problems with your sitemaps and/or website.

Did you know you can target (parts of) your website to a specific country? You don’t need to do that when you have a top-level country domain, like .au, .uk, .fr, or .nl. Google then already automatically assumes your website is targeted at that specific country. This tip only applies to generic top level domains (gTLDs), like .com, .edu, or .org.

If you have a multi-lingual website, it may be beneficial to target different languages at specific countries. Let’s say you are based in Europe, have English as the default language, and two additional languages: Dutch and French. These two additional languages are primarily for website visitors in The Netherlands and France (yes, we know Dutch is also spoken in northern Belgium, and French also in parts of Switzerland, we’ll come to that later).

Your main website is already listed in Webmaster Tools. Add your language specific sites separately, so with the above mentioned languages you add mywebsite.com/nl/ and mywebsite.com/fr/ (or, if you have subdomains, nl.mywebsite.com and fr.mywebsite.com).

Once you’ve done that, you can select a GeoTarget under ‘Improve the search presence of http://mywebsite.com/nl/’. In this case, you would select the target country as The Netherlands. It will take some time, but after a while your website in that specific language should rank higher in google.nl.

Of course you should submit sitemaps for each language separately. How you can do that, we have covered in a previous post: Yoast WordPress SEO: Sitemap for each language.