Like many people, for a long time now, Google has been my default search engine. This default state of my online experience makes it easy to forget that there are other options out there; that I could look at the web through a different set of lenses. And that indeed, there might actually be a better experience elsewhere.
I don’t want to use Google just because everyone likes it, so every now and again I like to sample the other popular search engines of the day. The one thing that has made me stick with Google for the past 5 years stills stands out; the priority given to relevant local results.
For starters, if you’re in Zimbabwe and you go to google.com, the search engine automatically redirects you to the local google.co.zw search page. Any search you make on this ‘local’ Google prioritizes results that are relevant to the location. Results from .co.zw domains are given priority too. And since if you’re in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean content is probably more relevant, this translates to more relevant search results. Same thing happens when I travel home to Malawi, Google conveniently defaults to google.co.mw without any user intervention. And I still have the option to force it to load google.com. It’s one click away.
Today for example, I Googled ‘Sanctions‘ and in the top 10 results were 3 about sanctions on Zimbabwe. I did the same search on the second and third most popular search engines; Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo. They both didn’t have anything related to Zimbabwe in the results. Bing has an option to manually change the location but when I tried to do this, I found it only recognises 58 countries and Zimbabwe isn’t one of them. Yahoo doesn’t even have a visible option to localize the results.
What’s more, Google even suggests ‘Zimbabwe’ while you’re still typing in ‘sanctions’. And if you insist on using your mother tongue to search the www, Google will let you.
So, in spite of everybody agreeing Google has great search results, it actually really does. This is important information for webmasters. In addition to other search engine optimization stuff you do, localizing your domain will certainly drive more Google traffic to your site.
Of course this is just one search string and views from one guy. Please let us know your personal experience below.