The importance of a Country Specific Website
Is it possible that your web host location could be affecting your SEO efforts? Does web server location even matter?
Picking the right web host can be a difficult choice. There are thousands of web hosting companies out there providing the same product at similar prices. Your decision is an important one that you must get right the first time. When considering your options for a web host, should you be concerned about the server location? Does it have any effect at all on your website’s page ranking?
The answer is ‘Yes and No’.
Make it Fast
Your website needs to be fast. Google takes website load speeds into account in search results. The easiest way to get the most speed is by hosting your website as close to your user’s location as possible. You can achieve this by hosting your website in the same country as your visitors.
Personalising content is key to better engagement with your users. A lot of companies create a dedicated website for each country they operate in. By serving different websites to users in different countries, companies are able to personalise various aspects of the website including the language, currency and the content. It is also a strong signal for users and search engines that the website is targeted towards a particular country. This is usually achieved by getting country-specific top level domains (ccTLDs) like .sg for Singapore or .jp for Japan.
Website Speeds and Loading Times
Page load time is one reason users abandon a website, as the average user is not patient enough to wait for a slow loading website. A recent research confirms that websites that load slowly are not good for businesses. 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to completely render. Google also considers page loading speed when ranking pages. If your website page takes more than a few seconds to load, Google will simply drop your rankings. Apart from other server-related issues, hosting far from your target users will make your web-page load time high.
For websites targeting users from only one country, it is a good idea to locate the server in that particular country. However, it is a different story for websites targeting visitors from numerous locations or from all over the world.
Websites like these need to use Content Delivery Network (CDN) to help spread their content.
Dexacure carried out a study that looked at this question – are the country specific websites faster than their global counterparts? For example, does
google.com.sg really provide better user experience than
google.com to users in Singapore? If so, then how much faster?
Dexacure focused on Google and Amazon, two of the most prominent companies. They compared how a country-specific website (e.g.
google.com.sg in Singapore) racks up to the corresponding global website (e.g.
When asked if hosting server location has any effect on page rankings, Matt Cutts, former Google Search Quality expert, responded by saying
“We do absolutely try to return the most relevant results to each user in each country. And server location in terms of IP address is a factor in that.”
However that comment was made in 2011.
More recently, while you should choose a hosting server location in the country of your target audience, it is not as important as it used to be. Google is making constant changes to allow for a more global setting. This Google article on global targeting will provide more insight. So let’s see what the results were from the test carried out by Dexacure
Results for Amazon
They assessed 13 country-specific Amazon websites. Comparing the performance of
amazon.com, the global website, in these countries with the country-specific website. They concluded that in 12 out of 13 cases, the country-specific website provided a better user experience than amazon.com. On an average, websites having a country-specific domain has an 18% increase in speed. For China, the country-specific site
www.amazon.cn saw a 43% better performance than
amazon.com(as measured by SEB). Only for Amazon Brazil, the global version performs 5% better than the localized version (
Results for Google
They also experimented with Google across 162 different countries where Google had a country specific website. The results were similar – 136 out of 162 countries had a faster country-specific website. On an average, country-specific websites accounted for about 12% increase in performance.
The results from the experiments with the Google and Amazon websites shows a clear pattern: country-specific websites consistently outperform the global websites. Among 13 websites of Amazon, only Amazon Brazil performed slightly worse than Amazon global for users in Brazil.
“On average, the country-specific versions of Amazon and Google website has 18% and 12% better SEB than the global website.”
Companies might decide to have a website for each country that they operate in for various reasons including SEO, localisation, etc. It is very important to ensure that these country-specific websites perform at least as good as your global website for users of that country. Having different websites for each country also gives you the freedom to easily choose the right CDN or DNS provider. It is also wise though to host your website in a manner that gives your visitors ease of use.
James Cummings is CEO of Daily Posts and works with big brands like Domains4Less in the tech industry to deliver content and marketing campaigns. He has over a decade of project management experience on large scale IT and development projects, including working on over 250 WordPress websites.
Inian Parameshwaran and Rupak Sarkar contributed to this article and Ratul Saha of Dexacure.com