How to target a specific country for ranking purposes?

May 31, 2021

How to target a specific country for ranking purposes?

Google’s John Mueller was asked what’s the correct way to target a particular country with a site. The person asking the question asked whether a country code top-level domain explicit to the country and the location of the hosting was significant.


Geotargeting is a reference to the act of targeting a site (or section of a site) to a particular country.

There are advantages to geotargeting. Many people trust and feel quiet with a site that is targeted at a particular country, especially with a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) that is explicit to their country.

Geotargeting also allows a marketer to segment their audience by country.

Country Code Top Level Domain (cc-TLD)

A Country Code Top Level Domain, normally known as ccTLD is a domain name that is explicit to a country.

It’s not the same as the more common generic top-level domains (gTLDs), domains that comprise of, .com, .net and .org, plus others, that can be used in any country.

A ccTLD is a domain that is explicit to a country and tells users in that country that the site is explicit to a country.

Is a ccTLD Necessary to Rank in a Specific Country?

The individual posing the inquiry wanted to rank a site in a particular country.

He used Germany as an example country in his inquiry.

Here is the issue:

“…regarding web hosting and domain registration.

Suppose I want to launch a site in Germany… is it required that I get a dot DE domain registered in Germany and website hosted in Germany for SEO?”

Google’s John Mueller didn’t stop for a second or delay to think before replying. His answer was unambiguous.

He said that there are two different ways to geotarget a particular country.

John Mueller replied:

“No, it’s not required.

In general, if you want to use geotargeting there, there are two ways to do that.

One is to use the country level top-level domain, which would dot DE for Germany in that case.

The other is to use a generic top-level domain and to use a geotargeting setting in search console.

So that could be, for example, a dot Com website or dot Net or dot Info or dot EU or whatever.

Any of those would also work and then you just set geotargeting for Germany.”

Is Hosting in a Country Required for Ranking in that country?

John Mueller next talked about hosting requirements, taking note of that hosting in the targeted country was a necessity in the past however that is no longer required.


“The hosting location is also not required.

That’s something that way in the early days before we had the setting in Search Console, we used the hosting location as a way to guess which country the website might be targeting.

But nowadays… I don’t think that’s used at all.

And with a content delivery network if you have kind of a fancy international website, then the hosting location doesn’t matter anyway because you always have some local presence automatically.”

Google Search Console has a simple method to help publishers target countries.

As per Google’s international targeting developer page:

“International Targeting Report

Use the International Targeting report to monitor your hreflang errors, or to choose a country that should be prioritized for your search results.

This report has the following sections:

The Language section: Monitor the usage and errors of hreflang tags on your site.

The Country section: Set a site-wide country target for your entire site, if desired.”

The Google Search Console International Targeting Report makes it simple to target a particular country for ranking in Google.

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