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Google Webmaster Tools automatically associated your website with the TLD that you're in. This is nice if the website is targeted towards that country, but its not always the case. In some instances, they're used for vanity, and in some - they're meant for users all around the world.

For instance, I have a .ky domain - Webmaster automatically targets this to the Cayman Islands. However, it should be unlisted OR United States, but there is no option to override this.

We've done marketing, promotions, and partnerships to gain the majority US inlinks. The other sites (Europe, etc) all rel alternate back to the .ky site as US-en, but still - having issues with US ranking.

Is there any way to override this feature in Google Webmaster Tools? It's quite silly that you cannot edit it for its intended purpose and Google makes this assumption.

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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 also 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.

  • Very good catch! Something I missed. I still think this is limited however and will not enjoy the reach that a .com would (for example). Am I right? – closetnoc Nov 26 '14 at 20:30
  • .com is special because it is the default in most people's minds. I don't think that Google treats .com differently in their algorithms compared to other generic geo-targetable top level domains. The perception of .com as the one can make a .com site easier to attract users to. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 26 '14 at 20:33
  • I did read in some internal Google documents (about 2 years ago) that because .com (and others) are more universal, they are often loaded into, but not all, sites and databases again depending upon other factors such as language and past search history. It seems to me to be a change in logic, where as ccTLDs need a reason to be included, .com needs a reason not to be included. Same thing but in reverse. I have not kept up on this topic as you have so I yield to your expertise. – closetnoc Nov 26 '14 at 20:37
  • What I was reading was about load-balancing Google servers and what criteria are considered. As part of that was search history, language, and ccTLD and others such as .com, but I do not remember anything about some of the other gTLDs. Part of the document covered some of the locale issues in regard to interest too. For example Germans may be interested in sites from certain countries regardless of language or other factors and France would have a different set of interests perhaps more focused on language. In most/some cases, neighboring countries are available where it makes sense. – closetnoc Nov 26 '14 at 21:33
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Google and I assume Bing, place various TLDs into data centers and specific search sites such as google.it depending upon locale as determined by the ccTLD, language and previous search patterns. It is a load balancing mechanism that allows various search results to contain relevant search results. It would not make sense to show Korean sites to Italians or the French. However, some TLDs will enjoy impressions in more search sites and data centers such as .com, .net, and .org since these tend to be more universal. Again language has an effect. For example, many companies in China have been moving their sites to a .com domain and offering English as a language to reach a wider audience outside of China.

If you are talking about ccTLDs, you will not be able to influence Google to place your site into the various sites and data centers. In fact, I do not think you can influence any TLD placement except to offer different languages. Then you might enjoy a wider audience.

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