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The example I’ll be using is a direct question from a client with a website owning a .com URL targeting the United States, but is hosted at a Canadian ISP.

Years ago, this might have had some bearing on rankings internationally.  These days however it holds little weight.  Google doesn’t want to punish international companies just because they aren’t hosted in the company they service.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Obviously, given the choice to err on the side of caution and host your site in your target country, if you’re perfectly happy with your foreign hosting provider and don’t feel like moving your site, it’s not something to lose sleep over.

There are a few steps you can take to make sure that you won’t run into any issues:

1. Set your target country in Webmaster tools.  This is probably the most important and easiest step you can take.  Under settings -> Geographic Target.   Check the box that says Target Users In <Country> and pick your target country in the dropdown.

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2. Make sure you aren’t using a country specific top level domain.  In other words, stick to .com, .net, .org etc if you want to Google which of their international search engines you should be appearing.  If you want to be in, you should appropriately use a domain name.

3. If you want to be super careful, you can set the default language of your website within the code itself by adding the following to your <head> area:

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”EN” />.

That example assumes the site is targeting english speaking visitors.  Es would target spanish speaking visitors.  To find your Two-letter language codes, click here and look at the ISO 639-1 Code list.  This step may be overkill but definitely won’t hurt anything.

Last but not least, if you’re still nervous about hosting your website in a foreign country, here is the official stance from Google themselves:

The takeaway from this is if you got an amazing deal on hosting outside of your target country, just relax.  Take the proper precautions and everything will be just fine.

Answered by: Todd Butcher

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