International Domain Case Study

 
 

International Domain Case Study

International DomainsLet’s look at the complexities of the optimisation work you may expect an SEO company to handle for you. Let’s consider a company located in Australia, operating from a .com domain which is about to release a new and improved version of their website. They have two offices; one in Australia and one in the UK which were both mentioned on the old website in the contact us section. The company never received any traffic from the UK searches and it seemed as if Google had associated them with the Australian region.

The owner was initially going to strengthen the signals for Google and explain that the domain is also relevant in the UK searches (e.g.: finding good links from .co.uk domains and making the UK office details more prominent…etc). They had limited success. Later they found out that they didn’t wait long enough. After lengthy discussions on the best approach, they were advised to split the site into a .com (already performing in AU) and a .co.uk website which will be targeting UK traffic only and on which the newly redesigned and optimised website will be released.

The first choice was to move the .com to a .com.au and leave .com as the international domain, but in fear of losing valuable traffic and preventing downtime they decided to leave it at .com as is. The choice was made on the fact that they will be offering different products in different countries (AU and UK) and the sites will have substantially different content offer.

However there may be some overlapping, for example, if one is flying from AU to UK it would make sense to shop at the UK site from AU to get the product they need. However the ratio of domestic vs international sales is probably 10:1 or less. In the meantime the efforts to promote the .com in the UK have been somewhat fruitful and they started appearing in the UK results for a small number of search terms, which wasn’t the case before. After seeing that, it was obvious that they were digging a hole for the new .co.uk domain. Action taken was to immediately set the geo target in Google Webmasters to AU only but this had almost no effect to the site rankings in the UK searches.

Questions:

  1. Was the decision to split the sites justified, and is the TLD strong enough sin gal to help in the long term? (e.g.: eBay is doing it).
  2. Apart from the IP,TLD, on-site references and backlinks, which other signals should they be paying attention to?
  3. Should they eventually try moving the .com to a .com.au and creating international presence on .com site?
  4. Can they safely use the same new design on the other location sites if the content will be different?
  5. How much of the content overlap can there be before a domain seen as a duplicate?
  6. How to best leverage the power of the old AU site when launching the new UK site?

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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