What is Google Search Console?
Search Console is one of Google's free website administration tools, designed to help you understand and manage your website's presence in Google search results.
Given Google accounts for nearly 90% of all internet searches, Search Console is a critical tool in the battle to get your local business to the top of your customer's search results.
Some of the most important things you can do include:
- Find the search terms/queries (aka keywords) that your customers use to find you
- See where your website and its pages rank in Google search results
- Discover which websites are linking back to yours
- Temporarily hide pages that shouldn't be visible in search results
When do I Need To Set a Target Country?
Google does a pretty good job of understanding the context of your business' website. In fact, they rightly pride themselves on that ability.
One way to establish which country a website targets is to use its top-level domain.
Google will make assumptions based on that domain, e.g. a .co.uk (or .uk) website should be targeting United Kingdom-based visitors, and a .it website should be intended to help visitors in Italy.
Likewise, if you're in the UK, Google knows you're more likely to click through to a UK website than an Italian one.
These country-specific domains are called country-code top-level domains.
These generic TLDs give Google a bit of a challenge, hence the ability you have to choose a target country.
So... If your website is on a generic top-level domain, such as .com, you need to set your target country in Search Console.
If your website is on a country-code top-level domain, such as .co.uk, you won't be able to (or need to) set your target country because Google has already assumed it.
How do I Set a Target Country?
If your top-level domain allows it, setting a target country in Google Search Console is easy, and won't take you longer than 5-minutes.
- In Search Console, make sure you are in a URL-prefix property (unfortunately, at the time of writing, it's not possible to set a target country for a domain property)
- In the left-hand menu, choose 'Legacy tools and reports'
- Choose 'International targeting'
- A new window will open, taking you to the old Search Console site
- Select the 'Country' tab
- Tick the 'Target users in' box to enable the country dropdown list
- If your target country is the United Kingdom, choose it. If your target audience is bigger than one country, choose 'Unlisted' instead.
- Save your choice
- Repeat steps 2-8 for any other relevant URL-prefix properties, i.e. the http/s and www variants.
When Will Changes Take Effect?
In January 2022, Google's John Mueller said:
My guess is it'll be anywhere from a week or two to maybe a month or two.... With regards to a news website, I suspect it'll be a little bit faster than usual, just because with a news website, we would focus on the newer content, and with the newer content we would see the setting very quickly.
So, for your average website, don't expect instant results.
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About Tom Irving
With a background in FinTech, Tom has 20+ years of experience taking ideas from concept to reality. Having originally honed his skills as a Business Analyst, he went on to lead successful Product Management and Marketing teams. He's always enjoyed solving problems using tech, spanning a wide range of companies, from NASDAQ-listed enterprises to London startups.