I know that I probably shouldn’t get involved in something that a lot of people are talking about if I think they are barking up the wrong tree – but I am. Here is why I think the UK SERP’s are fine, just fine…
So, a few UK SEO’s have been talking, at length, and for some time, about the UK SERP’s being “broken”. During this time, they also seem to be getting more and more frustrated that they are not getting any response from Google on the matter. I think there is good reason they are getting no response.
A recent example of a SERP that has been highlighted would be “compare adsl broadband plans“. This query returns a lot of Australian results, to which UK SEO’s seem to be throwing their hands up in disbelief. “I am in the UK – why am I getting Oz sites in my results?!?”.
If you search for a query that is much more commonly used in another English speaking country, you are going to get a lot of results from that country. Whether or not you think this is the way it should work, that is the reality.
In the example above, Australians use the term “broadband plans” a hell of a lot more than we do in the UK. We say “broadband packages”, and this query (“compare adsl broadband packages“) returns UK results. Only people that happen to use search terms that are rarely used in their country are going to get foreign results – them and SEO’s doing search term research.
Even SEO’s needn’t really worry about this in my book, because these SERP’s are a clear indication that the search term you are considering optimising for is not generally used much in the UK. There are a lot of queries that return foreign results (try “real estate” or something equally as non-UK-ish), and I am sure that the majority of them do so because the query that is being used is most often used, and therefore associated with, the country of the sites that are being returned.
I am sure there are queries that genuinely are returning some results that are not relevant, and I am sure that if reported, these would be looked at. I just think that jumping to the conclusion that the UK SERP’s are “broken” may just be the easy option, not the correct one.
[I am also willing to accept that there are occasions when there are map results that are showing, perhaps, a US area instead of a UK one.]
I’m not saying that there are no location issues with any UK SERP’s, or that this totally explains any strange results. But I think it explains a good deal of them, and I don’t think the occasional foreign result in a (very) niche UK SERP is something that should be playing on an SEO’s mind.
Flickr image from Chris Bury