First off, you need to know this is an area of your webmaster tools you should not be tampering with too much, the effects of tampering with this can be quite rewarding, the effects could also be quite devastating if you get it all wrong. So let’s get into it…
The idea here is simple, if you have a website that caters to the needs of people in a specific country then you should (but not necessarily) set your websites geographical target to that country. This is generally expected to help you rank higher and better in that country and your content is then considered less relevant to countries farther away from your target country.
A great example would be a website that lists all the latest job vacancies in Taiwan — It makes sense to target only people in Taiwan as they are more likely to be interested in content like that as opposed to people in Malaysia or the United States for example. It does however get tricky when you have a website that lists all the best restaurants in India for example — it may not be so wise to target only people in India here because your content seems like something that would be very useful to travellers and tourists from many other countries. Targeting only people living in India would be incredibly short sighted — which is why you should probably set your geo-targeting to “unlisted” for websites like this.
I am not ashamed to say I did a nine month test run of my own before I could write this post… For many reasons — One of them being the fact that most internet marketers do not pay attention to this… Not long enough to write elaborate posts about it. I had only found one post about the subject I thought useful and even that was not completely accurate. Geo-targeting is most useful for people like me who build country specific niche sites but cannot host them in the parent country because the hosting services we have here are quite abysmal. You want to host your sites in the United States and rank well in Nigeria? The truth is SEO wise, Google will first assume your site is for Americans and try to rank you very well in Google.com and not Google.com.ng …. Which may be bad for business because most of your target audience would be searching their content via Google.com.ng (Same theory applies for every other country).
Here is what I did for my test — I swapped Geo-Targeting for 1 niche site to The United States, switched another one to Nigeria and switched one more to “Unlisted”. The reason for the last is because if I did not chose unlisted Google would auto target the United States as I said earlier.
Here is a very detailed explanation of the results after 8 months:
The website targeting the United States has been making a lot of money per click from Adsense… Yes that’s right — It’s not racist or anything but a higher purchasing power than most 3rd world countries kind of justifies a $2 CPC against $0.07. Seven cents because I have 2 Nigerian niche sites and they get 0.07 CPC on high traffic days — (Victor would also agree to this seeing as his new niche site targeting Nigeria is doing about the same CPC).
So lets do some mathematics…. If I get 3000 clicks in a day on a 0.07 CPC website I make $210 but If I get the same number of clicks on a $2 CPC website I make $6000. It sounds unfair but this is the reality of things. Average Nigerians generally do not have a very high purchasing mentality/power — Blame it on the economy!
The Unlisted website had no reasonably visible changes to its CPC — Partly because its a largely inactive niche site. Does not get as much search worthy content as the other 2 above….
Now before you race off to go and change your Geo-target to the United states, understand that there is more competition there, it could take you forever to rank anything (If you ever eventually do) and it will never be as rewarding if you only target solely on getting higher CPC. Target whatever country your content applies to and do not try to game the system or you will regret it. Geo-targeting in webmaster tools is not something you want to be tampering — please do not tamper!
image source: WordStream
My rankings in the specific search engines I targeted of course had to increase for me to see any reasonable results! For example, imagine a site posting content for Nigeria ranking very well in the United States but not doing so well in Nigeria — That is no use to anyone. If you used to rank on page 2 you might notice you have now moved up to page 1 in your target search engine after a little bit and then rankings MIGHT decline in other search engines… It’s really that simple. Because you are not Google and you cannot say for sure. Sometimes you keep ranking just as well across all Search Engines? Link profile maybe? Only Google can answer this…
It is very possible to rank on page 1 for a keyword on Google.com and be on page 6 for the same keyword on Google.com.ng — I know because I have seen it. Thanks to this little test of mine I have seen a lot of bizarre things.
You also need to pay attention to the fact that what you are writing plays a huge role as well, for example — my 0.07 CPC niche site does all the way up to 0.40 on some days, It all entirely depends on what article is getting the traffic and what keywords the article is targeting. More traffic does not necessarily mean more money.
There is also the issue of CTR (Click Through Rate) — Most of the people who visit my Nigerian niche site come with one goal in mind, Google knows that so they serve them ads relating to that intent and then I get thousands of clicks daily… The CTR on my United States niche site isn’t so lucky. I still get a very high cost per click but not as many clicks even with similar traffic stats. (Did I hear someone scream ad placements?)
No it is not the placement, I have experimented everything experimentable in the last 12 months and the clicks per day stay around the same. It is what it is… Remember — If you switch targeting just for the purpose of getting higher CPC when your website does not cater specifically to a country, YOU PLAYED YOURSELF!