Google returning more UK specific results?

Posted By November 5th, 2012

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I will be expanding on this subject a little more, but wanted to post this chart to inform you of some changes I noticed in Google over the weekend.

www.facebook.com has been replaced by gb-en.facebook.com within the UK SERPs, which appears to be a Google change, rather than a Facebook inspired one.


Edit: 5th November 2012 @ 4:15pm

Facebook obviously use Google Webmaster Tools to inform Google that the gb-en subdomain is specific to the ‘United Kingdom’ as highlighted in the screenshot below taken from Google Australia:

Use of geo targeting for United Kingdom

There isn’t any evidence of rel=”alternate” methodology within the backend code, but Facebook could have setup a dedicated XML sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools. They may have not set this up at all and Google is using geo targeting as the primary factor in determining the audience in question. Whatever is happening, its had an impact across a vast amount of search terms:

Google UK (web) for en-gb.facebook.com from 1st October 2012 to present
Chart showing position movement for GB subdomain

List of search terms used in study for GB subdomain
Chart showing the rise of GB subdomain for Facebook in Google UK

There have been instances before where the subdomain has appeared, most noticeably in September 2012, which no doubt was a testing phase: (the domains are the same colours as the key above and the start date is 26th November 2011)
Same as the chart above but from November 2011

I will give it a couple of days to see if the results revert back to www.facebook.com and also investigate other social channels that use the same technique.

Edit – I’ve just run a chart for Myspace against a number of singers/bands and the result is the same:

uk.myspace.com rankings from 1st October to present day in Google UK (web)
uk.myspace.com improvement in Google (web) for a selection of terms

Keywords terms used in the chart above
Chart showing the rise of UK subdomain in Google (web)

This latest chart backs up my initial thinking that this is a Google change looking at returning the most relevant results for a specific audience. I’m going to review this in more depth soon and see the impact it has for a UK business that offers multinational services.

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