Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recently revealed that Google geotargets search rankings in varying locations around the world ccTLDs:
“For geotargeting we use mostly the ccTLD or search console setting, so place the server where it works best for you.”
In previous years, Google would determine SEO ranking based on the location of a domain’s server. It seems that this is no longer the case, and according to Mueller’s statement, server location is not an important factor for SEO ranking anymore.
On the other hand, what has become an important are ccTLDs. If your domain has a location-specific extension, Google is more likely to geotarget results for your site toward searchers in that particular country.
To briefly explain what a ccTLD (country code top-level domain) is: this involves an Internet country code top-level domain extension usually assigned to countries. Each country is allocated their own ccTLD extension
There are ccTLDs that are restricted to be used only be citizens and business owners of their respective country. For instance, to be able to register a domain with the extension “.au” (Australia’s ccTLD), one needs to be able provide proof of owning a business in Australia or being a resident there.
This is usually administered by the registrar. One of the major registrars to manage ccTLDs is Marcaria.com. Marcaria provides more geographic extensions (ccTLDS) than any other registrar in the world. They provide domain registration services in numerous countries. Working with a registrar that specializes in ccTLDs is crucial as it can help to keep all registrations under a single registrant account.
Managing SEO for a global audience isn’t applicable for many smaller websites, but if you have the kind of company or content that can transcend borders and languages, then ccTLDs would become necessary. Most international SEO experts recommend that a site consider the use of a subdirectory for different languages (example.com/fr); however, if one can afford the financial and technical cost, a ccTLD is the most powerful way to filter international markets online.