While websites are great for gaining immediate global exposure (or notoriety, as the case may be), there are times when your product would benefit more from local search engine targeting. For example, you have a pizzeria in Trieste, Italy. A person in Hawaii may accidentally stumble on your site and get a craving for your mouth-watering oven-hot thin crust Four Cheeses pizza… but he can’t order it anyway. It makes much more sense to concentrate your efforts on the people in and around your locality. For domains with a country code like .sg for Singapore and .jp for Japan, it’s automatically done, but if you’re using a neutral domain extension such as .com or .org, it has to be arranged manually. Here’s how to set it up using Google’s geographic targeting.
1. First of all, you must have a Google Account. If you don’t have one, just register for free.
2. Sign up on the Google Webmaster Tools main page.
3. On the dashboard, add the URL of your site. Verify by following the instructions given. If you’ve already done this before, then just select your site URL from the dashboard and proceed to the next step.
4. On the left column, click Tools from the menu.
5. On the Tools page, select Set geographic target.
6. Next, change the setting to “Associate a geographic location with this site”.
7. A dropdown box will appear and you’ll then be able to choose the country/region for your site’s target audience.
8. Save the changes and exit.
That’s it. Your site is targeted for your country. Note that this setting will only be in effect if the person searching chooses the “Search pages from [country]” option on the Google homepage. Otherwise, your site may still be found by users worldwide. Try it and see the results over time. If you want to revert to your previous settings, just log back in to Google and do some quick editing.