What is it worth?
Optimising your website for global customers is a specific task that is worth isolating from general SEO activities. This activity is of specific benefit to exporters, but it is also of benefit to businesses that are targeting customers all over the globe. You can clearly increase your customer base by adding pages on your site that specifically target the US, Europe or Asia.
What can you do?
If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com or .org, and targets users in a particular geographic location, you can provide Google with information using the Google Webmaster tools. This will also improve your website in Google’s search results for geographic queries. Setting a geographic target won’t impact your appearance in search results unless a user limits the scope of the search to a certain country.
If an international domain (.com, .org, .eu, etc) has been used, Google relies on several other signals, including IP address, location information on the page, links to the page, and any relevant information from Google Places.
Matt Cutts has also said that server location is taken into account for local search results, although the level this is the case is debatable. Google does try to find context from server IP and top level domain location. However, if your site has a geographic TLD/ccTLD (like .co.nz) then Google states they will not use the location of the server as well. Obviously there could be a clash between server IP and your TLD, (for instance hosting your site in the US and having a .co.nz domain). Doing that would be a bit confusing, and Google can’t really “average” between New Zealand and the USA. So, the ccTLD is generally a much stronger signal than the server’s location could ever be.
The optimisation also counts on the keywords that a user chooses. Not only is search location, search preferences and search history taken into account, but also if they are using words that are geotargeted. This means there is a language factor that needs to be taken into account. There are specific foreign language search engines, Baidu for Chinese or Yandex for Russian. These search engines take into account the language of the site, and the page that is produced.
So what specific SEO steps can you take?
- Build GEO specific pages with local content and location information
- Build GEO specific pages that attract local links
- Purchase the GEO specific domain and point either at your website or at the pages or build a second mirror site (this will depend on the competitiveness of your market).