Ive discussed the issues of SEO and hosting before – in a nutshell where your site is hosted could have an impact on your search engine rankings. In particular if you have a .com (or .net, .biz etc) google will use your hosting location to determine where to give you rankings (eg – a .com domain hosted in the US will provide rankings in the US – so hard luck if you want good UK rankings). To check where you are hosted and for full details here’s the full post – Rankings and Hosting

Google Webmaster Central to the Rescue!

We now have a neat solution to this problem – at Google Webmaster Central (GWC) you can now tell Google where you want your rankings. Just go to ‘Tools’ then ‘set geographic target’- see below. Of course you’ll need to register with GWC first – which is free – and which holds many other advantages.
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Some Other Useful Stuff you can do at GWC

You can see the details above but particularly useful is the ‘crawl diagnostics’ feature, and the ‘statistics’ which shows you amongst other things the top keyphrases you are getting found on.

Another problem in the past has been getting to know where your inbound links are coming from – the ‘link’ command at Google is notoriously unreliable, but now through GWT you can get a full and accurate summary of all links coming into your site.

The ‘sitemap’ facility is a good way to communicate to Google your web pages to ensure they all get spidered. Anyway, register and hava a play – its really useful.

Helping International SEO

It also provides a neat solution to the issue of getting rankings from different countries through the same site. Here’s an example:-

Lets say your site is www.yoursite.com and you are looking for rankings in the UK. Lets say you have some translated French pages, German pages and US specific pages on your site through which you want to attract relevant keyword searchers from people searching in those countries.

You can use subdomains for these pages (eg www.francais.yoursite.com) or folders (eg www.yoursite.com/german) and either way you can use the ‘set geographic target’ facility to properly inform google where you want search results from for these pages. That is, you can tell google that specific parts of your site need to attract traffic from different areas.
If you want more detail on this here’s a video clip at the GWC official blog.