Question: I’ve just discovered my website is hosted in Germany (that’s where my hosting company chose to put it). Does this have any impact on my search engine rankings?
Angela Dunbar, Allied Equestrian, Perthshire
Answer: It doesn’t matter in your case because you have a .co.uk domain name, so Google knows you are a UK company. On the other hand if you had a .com domain google would use your hosting location to determine your country of origin. In this case it would think you are German and give you good German rankings but poor UK results.
TIP: For any of you out there who think this may be a problem – go to http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/website-country/
Here you can check where your site is hosted. If you have a .com domain and you are hosted outside the uk, this means you will not get good uk rankings unless you transfer to a uk host.
More background information on hosting and search engine rankings.
When people carry out a google search, google wants to serve up the most relevant results. More often than not, local results are more relevant than others. For example if you were searching for new lawnmower, Google would assume a local supplier would be mor appropriate than, say, a German one.
How does Google determine where websites are in relation to the searcher? As alluded to above, if you have a .co.uk TLD (top level domain) Google assumes you are a UK company. If, however, you have a .com it uses the server location to determine which your country of origin is. As in the example above a .com domain and a German hosted site would conclude you are German, which would mean your UK search results would be poor (your German ones could be OK though!)
Taking this a stage further you can see that ideally, to get good rankings in a specific country, you need a local TLD ( .de, .fr, .it etc). If this is not possible a good compromise is a .com ( or .eu for Europe) and get the site hosted in the relevant country.
Even better you can use subdomains for your non uk sites with the subdomains hosted locally. So, www.yoursite.com in the uk; www.de.yoursite.com in German and hosted in Germany; www.fr.yoursite.com in French and hosted in France, etc.
If all this sound too much like hard work then ‘pay per click’ is the best route open to you since you can specify the country you want your ads to appear in.