There are literally hundreds of thousands of web pages online about Google, many of them noting the various specifications and variables that the search behemoth utilises in the process of ranking websites for user searches. That ranking mechanism is known as the Google “algorithm” and it takes into account such a myriad of factors that to view a representation of the algorithm in the form of a mathematical equation is mind-boggling.
The average webmaster knows many of the variables, of course, which include on-page factors like titles, meta descriptions, tags and attributes that are used in HTML coding, etc., as well as off-page factors like incoming links, among others.
What many don’t know, however, are some of the technical variables that Google utilises in the process of ranking websites. Did you know, for example, that Google knows what IP your site is hosted on and either discounts or favours incoming links from sites hosted on other IPs? Or that Google knows the length of your domain registration period and will typically remove sites from its ranking “sandbox” more quickly if the domain is registered for more than one year?
Perhaps even more important is the fact that Google will give added weight to a top level domain’s country-specific extension – like .ie – when a geography-specific search is conducted by a user, or if the user himself is located in that specific geographic area. For example, if you own a services business and are located in Ireland, it is quite likely that most or all of your clients will also be located in Ireland. When those potential customers do a search for “Dublin web design services” (for example), your site, with its .ie extension, will perform better in Google (www.google.ie AND www.google.com) than a site with a more generic domain extension like .com, .net or .org.
Likewise, Google even takes into account WHERE your site is hosted. Remember those IPs? Well, they are distributed in a specific manner so that Google knows where a given IP is actually located – this is indicated by the web hosting company that has access to the IPs. An Ireland-based web hosting company, for example, will use IPs that are known by Google to be “located” in Ireland. As part of the aforementioned algorithm, Google will give more weight to a site that is hosted in a given country when geography-specific searches are indicated and when users in that country are conducting a particular search.
What this means is that if you intend on targeting clientele located in Ireland, the best approach from a domain registration and hosting perspective is to use the .ie extension and to host in Ireland. In the long run, the benefits to your business will be well worth it.