Does a Country Domain and Server Origin Effect SEO?

This may seem like a nothing subject to write about but it does effect everybody who owns or operates a website across the world. As Rich at @army_surplus asked is it better to have a .uk domain on a UK server if you are targeting a UK audience, or could it be hosted in the USA or India?
The simple answer is that there is no simple answer.

First, lets consider @MattCutts answer in 2009 – “we look at the server ip address”


Ok so with that in mind you may see the answer is both yes and no. Google looks at the server location but that isn’t the end of the story, and you can in theory override what “google thinks” to some extent using Google Webmaster Tools.

Lets now return to Rich’s question about targeting a UK audience.

In my experience server location and domain targeting to a country can deeply help your SEO. For example I once ran a domain (now defunct), I played around and moved it to – after a short while visitor numbers picked up as did the number of enquires. On the other hand we have SEOAndy which for about 3 months was a website but it was only when it moved to .com it took off. Both are targeting different audiences. targets the uk and seoandy is a generic “this is for everyone” website.

Thinking about my experience with server locations I’ve twice had servers outside of the UK, once in France and the other in America. On both occasions the traffic I had stagnated, as did my rankings within the UK (my main audience for both websites). So to me location matters when targeting a country.

Don’t Go Cheap!

Rich added a comment to our discussion on twitter, mentioning that most people would prefer cheap over location. Whilst this is true I would hope that those webmasters and business owners who’ve now read this article would ask themselves “where am I hosted” and if it’s not in the country you target then it’s really time to move – even if it is more expensive. Cheap doesn’t pay when it comes to the basics of SEO.

Where do you host your websites, let us know!

6 Comments on “Does a Country Domain and Server Origin Effect SEO?”

  1. Totally agree with this, if only for the fact your website will be faster for users in the that country. I always get a dedicated server in each market I want to cover.

    1. Hi Colin!Indeed it is faster, forgot to mention that bit.
      In terms of dedicated servers, a VPS is just as good. As always would avoid shared hosting though.

  2. Hi Andy,I use a country domain with hosting in same country (.my)
    Most search traffic 70% used to come from
    3 months ago I introduced googles pagespeed (using cname to their servers)
    Now I find that visitors from local country search have dwindled to just 14% with now sending 60% of visitors.
    The majority of my visitors are still from same country but it just seems the tap has been turned off on – net result is a massive drop in overall visitors.

    webmaster tools suggests everything is ok.

    I thought the issue was down to the speed of my site loading so I just spent 2 weeks optimising 300+ pages, but still same.

    I am starting to think I should remove this google page speed service.
    I’d be interested in your opinion or if you have heard of any other situation like this occurring before.

    1. I use GPS-S for SEOAndy and its been nothing but amazing, visitors are up because the site is so much faster and easier to access. Though I like you have seen some odd things, a move from the UK searches to .com searches, in itself not a problem if the numbers remain or grow – but that isn’t your case.
      I would suggest that you turn off the service for a month and see if visitors return, alternatively rather than run everything through GPS-S turn off things like images being read from the service – this has increased my uk figures again and maybe worth a try.

      As with all things it’s suck it and see im afraid – but something to note would be that you should also consider other potential issues (such as google updates) which may affect your traffic numbers.

  3. Hey guys, I’m sure for SEO purposes this only makes a difference if you are a local niche, ie if you want to target london uk only then have a uk server, host, domain etc…. But if you are promoting national or global it really does not matter :example for national product keyword / sports trainers uk
    Example for a local product / sports trainers aylesbury
    Example for a global national / buy cheap sports shoes

    So you would need a uk host, server and domain for the middle example only

    For the top example you would require .com or with a Europe server and uk host

    For the bottom one any server , any host but a .com domain only

    Hope this helps

    Jimmy Sandhu
    Master Marketer

    1. I really need to update this post from 2012, thanks for your comment however. The reality is that with CDN’s and the likes of WordPress hosting directly or WP Engine for example it makes little difference today where your site is hosted. More emphasis is on your domain TLD / ccTLD and actually more so on your content, thankfully.

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