There a few factors that Google (as the main search engine in Ireland) use to determine which site should appear in the results for Irish searchers. They are as follows :
1. Domain name TLD (top level domain e.g .com | .eu | .ie | .co.uk)
2. Physical location of your hosting account.
4. Backlink sources.
5. Webmaster tool settings.
1. Domain Name TLD.
The domain TLD is the last part of your domain name, for example this domain is ‘websitemanagement.ie’ so the TLD for this domain is ‘.ie’; Google takes this into consideration when deciding which country your site is best suited for. Each country has it’s own specific TLD, .ie is for Irish websites whereas the .co.uk is the UK’s TLD.
2. Physical Location Of Your Hosting Account.
Google will look up the location of your hosting account, if your site is hosted in Ireland then Google will give your site preference in the Irish search results.
If you have a website written entirely in Greek, Google will assume that your target audience are Greek speaking people and locate your site accordingly. This isn’t something that should be relied on alone as for instance there are many English, French and Spanish speaking countries which causes some possibility for error.
4. Backlink Sources.
Put simply, if the majority of your backlinks are from South Africa or India but you are targeting an Irish audience this is going to effect how well your site performs. If you are targeting an Irish audience you should attempt to source backlinks from Irish websites.
5. Webmaster Tool Settings
Google’s webmaster tools are a great resource for any website developer, in here there is a section specifically for assigning your site to a specific location. Definitely a feature to not be overlooked.
Multiple Country Targeting – Best Practices
Once a website performing reasonably well in a country, it is only natural that business owners start looking at the option of branching out to other countries that they can target with their services.
There are three recommendations that I have for undertaking such a venture.
1. Register a separate (specific) domain for each country.
2. Set up separate sub domains for each country (e.g http://uk.websitemanagement.ie)
3. Set up sub folders for each country (e.g http://www.websitemanagement.ie/uk)
Each of these options can be registered in Google’s webmaster tools and geo targeted to a specific country.
My personal recommendation would be option 1, the reasons for this are, sourcing back links from that country will be easier. re-assurance for visitors to the website that this is a legitimate company in their country. Separate hosting accounts based in the country being targeted.
Trying to target one root domain to many countries is not recommended and would not only be difficult to manage but could cause issues as the website grows.