How Search Engines Redirect Users To Country-Specific Sites

Yahoo just started redirecting people in the UK who are trying to reach Yahoo.com instead to its Yahoo UK web site, something that Google has done for a long time. With the change, this seemed a good time to revisit how all the major search engines may intercept people trying to reach their ".com" versions from countries outside the United States.

Below, the examples are drawn from someone in the UK trying to reach .com versions of each of the major search engines. Those in other countries often will find similar interception in place.

Yahoo

If you are based in the UK, Yahoo will now redirect you to Yahoo UK & Ireland. The UK site shows the Yahoo UK & Ireland logo but also has a top banner explaining the new behavior. Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan — who is in the UK — sent me a screen capture and explained the behavior of the feature. The screen in the UK looks like this:

Yahoo! UK & Ireland

Yahoo, right off the bat, tells you your Yahoo experience will be customized based on your locality. If you do not want a locally customized experience, click on "Go to yahoo.com" link, and you will be taken to the US version. Once you do this, the choice is remembered and stored via a cookie. The next time you try to go to Yahoo.com, you can go there directly without being redirected to Yahoo UK.

It is important to note that Yahoo’s results, even if you use Yahoo.com, will be skewed toward what it believes those in the UK would like to see. This will happen EVEN IF you DO NOT use the "UK only" box. The other major search engines also do such skewing. For Yahoo, we don’t know any way to override this behavior.

Google

Google UK

Like Yahoo, try to go to Google.com in the UK and you’ll be redirected to Google UK. Also like Yahoo, you can override this. You use the "Go to Google.com" link at the bottom of the page. Do this once, and your choice is remembered for the future. Redirection will no longer happen (unless you clear your cookies for some reason).

Also as with Yahoo, results and ads on Google.com will still be skewed to favor what a UK user may want. There is a way to override this for ads and, to some degree, for the general search results. After you do a search, add this to the end of your query:

&gl=us

For example, if you searched for football, you’d see this in your browser’s address bar:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=football&btnG=Google+Search

At the end of that, insert the gl code, like this:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=football&btnG=Google+Search&gl=us

Now the results will be more US orientated. Want to see how they look for other countries? Instead of US, use the two digit code for any country you find listed over here. You can also use the AdWords Preview Tool to see locally based Google search ads.

Live Search

Live Search UK

Live Search does NOT redirect you to a new URL. Instead, it gives you a customized look and localized search results for your country. The screen capture above shows the option for "Only from United Kingdom" results, since it was snapped from within the UK.

In the advanced options, there’s an option allowing you to set your location for anywhere in the world. However, Danny says that hasn’t worked properly for at least a year.

Fortunately, those wanting to see US results (or those from any country) can use a brand new Live Worldwide page he was just told about from Microsoft this week. The page hasn’t even been posted to the Live.com site, so you’ve got an exclusive to play with it.

Ask.com

Ask.com UK

Ask will redirect you to Ask UK. There is a link at the very bottom of the page that says "Ask.com US." Click on that to get to Ask.com. Unlike Yahoo and Google, this isn’t stored. You’ll have to do it each time you want to go to Ask.com from your browser address bar.

Related Topics: Ask: Web Search | Channel: Consumer | Google: Outside US | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Outside US | Search Engines: Outside USA | Search Features: General | Yahoo: Outside US | Yahoo: Search

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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