Vanessa Fox over at SearchEngineLand describes a new feature in Google Webmaster Central which allows you to set the geographic preference of your site. One of the main issues for people new to multilingual marketing is how to set up their website to be well ranked in a specific country, or even to be included in the local results for that location.
To date Google has looked at the following five factors to help them correctly position and rank a website geographically:
1. Domain Extension
2. Page Language
3. Document Language Type
4. Physical Location of Site
5. Inbound Links
Google is now offering a new method of setting the preferred location yourself. You can only set one location for each site but could use this method on sub-domains as Vanessa points out:
www.example.com/ (U.S. site)
france.example.com/ (French site)
russia.example.com/ (Russian site)
If your domain extension already determines your site location, such as .ru for Russia, then Google will not let you change this but will display the associated country in the control panel. Although the ccTLD approach is usually recommended for ensuring inclusion in local engines this tool will be very useful on existing com/net/org sites or sub-domain structures and may mitigate the need to buy local hosting.