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Geo-targeting for Kingons; film at 11

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 09 March 2009 09:21

How Google deals with language and location

When you think of geo-targeting for SEO, what springs to mind? If you said country and language go body slam something, you’re the next lucky contestant on ‘Guess that Algo’. If you said type in co-ordinates and send the intercontinental up their arses… Well, methinks it’s time for some anger management.  Oooo..look, butterfly..

Anyway, an interesting patent was awarded to the Google and it’s worth having a quick look at. The patent in question is;

Ordering of search results based on language and/or country of the search results – filed October 21, 2008 and awarded February 26 2009 - Gupta; Vineet; (Bangalore, IN) ; Gomes; Ben; (Mountain View, CA) ; Lamping; John; (Los Altos, CA) ; McGrath; Mizuki; (Minato-ku, JP) ; Singhal; Amitabh; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Tong; Simon; (Mountain View, CA)

And it has some author relations with;

System and method for providing preferred country biasing of search results – filed June 27, 2003 and awarded November 11, 2008
System and method for providing preferred language ordering of search results – filed April 3, 2003 and awarded November 11, 2008

Essentially what we have here looks like the two separate components and the new parent connector. This essentially works by

  1. Getting the search results (via existing ranking mechanisms)
  2. Sorting/re-ranking of results based on language/country
  3. Re-ranking of results based on region/language
  4. Delivery of new re-ordered results set

Ok, so what are the considerations you ask? And what does any of it have to do with Klingons? We’re getting to that….

Google geo-targeting for Klingons

Talk to me

The first element incorporated after the initial rankings are prepared is the language identification. To identify potential signals they talk about looking at;

  1. Characteristics of the query – obviously the language and/or language nuances of the query would play here..
  2. Characteristics of the interface – what are the language settings of the browser?
  3. Characteristics of the search result – would entail relevant language matches in the results set.

Now this doesn’t mean that necessarily non-native tongues are discarded; not at all. They discuss it in terms of ‘acceptable languages’; as per…

“Acceptable languages include languages specified by the user, as well as other acceptable languages. For instance, a French-preferring user might also accept search results in English. Acceptable languages can also include related languages and dialects. For example, Portuguese search results might be acceptable to a user who generally prefers Spanish.”

Not so sure how thrilled the French would be with that assertion, but that’s another story (eh?). The main point being is that there can be more than one ‘acceptable’ language being considered here.

And then of course…. There’s ‘dead’ and ‘psuedo’ languages…

"Finally, acceptable languages can include dead languages, such as classical, Greek or Olde English, or psuedo-languages, such as Klingon. Dead and psuedo-languages are typically not supported by search engines, but may nevertheless reflect the academic, historic, or personal interests of the requesting user.”

For those of you targeting the Klingon Empire, it should be noted that while Google can’t (yet) give directions, they are going to do their best to accommodate you culturally at least. Which really, is an awful nice touch as they have really been takin it hard from the engines up until now… seriously. Don't you love it when search geeks show their true colours?


Now you’re speaking my language

In simplest terms the language component;

  1. Receives the search term
  2. Does it’s usual magic on all language result sets
  3. Identifies language(s) for the results (based on above characteristics)
  4. Orders list of results
  5. Re-ranks with adjustments based on determined language(s)
  6. Presents results to user

What we can take away from the language aspects is that a plurality of languages can be considered for a given region. As can various language dialects from various countries around the world (and throughout the universe?). We can even see that browser preferences and related languages can play a role. 

This would certainly speak to be intimately aware of your geo-targeting demographics. As the mantra goes, user experience is really king, then the better one understands the market demographic, including language nuances, the better.


Where did you say you were?

The next aspect is the country relations; user to results. This part is somewhat more straight forward and involves retrieving related IP and client information (browser, mobile phone etc..). This can then be used in establishing the likely country of origin for the search request. The determination of the website residence is a little more involved, but we're getting to that.

And so this component;

  1. Receives the search term
  2. Does it’s usual magic on all (country) result sets
  3. Identifies country for the results (based on interface characteristics)
  4. Orders list of results
  5. Re-ranks with adjustments based on determined country
  6. Presents results to user

Now, I didn’t see anything, but it’s unlikely at this point they have ‘pseudo Countries’ covered… So geo-targeting Kingons may be unlikely after all.. sigh, ( …sorry, the humour of that just never gets old for me).

And how do they determine the location information for the web page you ask? Damned goo question....

There are a few ways to do so including;

  1. URL for domain extension
  2. Registrar examiner – for business location information;
  3. IP of web server
  4. Other web pages on the same site (eg Contact pages)
  5. Location information of links pointing to the page
  6. The text near the hyperlinks,
  7. Links pointing out from the page

The lesson here is that we’d want to ensure as many factors are in place as possible when targeting various geo-graphic markets; from mom and pop to the multinationals.

"... one needs a carefully thought out geo-targeting program than satisfies
as many factors as possible without overly sacrificing others"


The SEO Onion

Now my friends we have a workable template for geo-targeting in SEO. Much of it really solidifies what we already know, while other nuances may be that tweak you were looking for. We should bear in mind that the usual suspects from the ranking line-up still apply. This is an additional layer for (hopefully) serving up more relevant results. They do speak of only slight re-rankings in some cases not entire upheaval. This is not a replacement for other targeting mechanisms, simply another layer upon the SEO onion.

What this means is that one needs a carefully thought out geo-targeting program than satisfies as many factors as possible without overly sacrificing others (depending on the reach desired.). For local businesses this is fairly cut and dry, for the international scene, some planning will be required.


And there we have it… until next time; stay tuned


More reading;

Making Geotargeted Content Findable For the Right Searchers - Nine by Blue
Guide to geotargeting - Blog storm
Building links for geo-targeting - Search Engine Journal
On-Site Geo-Targeting and Local Search Optimization - Search Engine Journal
Local SEO predictions - Local SEO guide



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