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Because I'm still living like it's 2008, I run a website with a .in TLD. The website has nothing to do we India and does not target Indian users.

Unfortunately, when I go to Google Webmaster Tools I see that Google have locked my geotargeting status to India:

Screenshow showing that I cannot change the geotargeting settings.

On the help pages, Google state that:

Sites with country-coded top-level domains (such as .ie) are already associated with a geographic region, in this case Ireland. In this case, you won't be able to specify a geographic location.

This seems implausibly inflexible, so I want to know if there are any sneaky ways of removing auto-geotargeting, or changing it to a more appropriate region?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you use a ccTLD like .in, you won't be able to set geotargeting to a different country in Webmaster Tools. For example, you generally wouldn't be able to geotarget users in France when using a .in domain name (we use a few other signals for geotargeting, but the ccTLD is a fairly strong signal, since it's something that users see as well).

That said, it's no problem to create a global site on a ccTLD like that - they will show up in global search results normally. It's common for international companies (and websites) to be based in a specific country.

So in short, if you want to geotarget users in a country other than India, then I'd recommend using a gTLD or the appropriate ccTLD instead. If your website is meant for users worldwide, then it's no problem to continue using that domain name.

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Thanks John. It's a shame there's no option to override it. Using ccTLDs for stupid wordplay like this is a bit cheesy, but it's still fairly commonplace. –  Tom Wright Jul 29 '12 at 11:55

Google maintains a list of top level domains that are geo-targetable. There are a few country code TLDs on that list:

.ad .as .bz .cc .cd .co .dj .fm .io .la .me .ms .nu .sc .sr .su .tv .tk .ws

However, if your TLD isn't on that list, you are out of luck. Google Webmaster Tools will not allow you to geo-target most country code domains to something other than their intended country.

Matt Cutts has a video where he explains Google's reasoning for this:

If you have a .jp domain and are trying to target Finland, you are really going against a lot of expectations and conventions that people have on the net. So one thing to think about would be whether it would be possible to get a generic TLD and use that for other countries.

For what it's worth, I think that Google is being silly on this issue.

  • It limits the creative use of names.
  • You can't use TLDs for language (.de sites don't rank well in Austria where they also speak German, or .pt in Brazil)

This has been Google's policy for years now though, and they haven't been willing to budge on it. If you want your site to rank worldwide, you can't use most country code top level domains.

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