Google; “I don’t get it!” – .Com Vs .Co.Uk

Ok people, have that cup of coffee, wake up and see if you can figure this one out! Im doing an off-line to online campaign for one of my clients, CW Jobs, where the off-line ad asks you to Google the phrase getitornot. The idea is that the site we created (a just for fun IT test, concept being if you are in IT you get it and if you are not you dont get it) would appear 1st and 2nd in the Google UK SERPs. With the title and meta description tag, carrying over from the off-line ad, you still with me?

We chose the phrase getitornot (all one word, thats part of the concept, you get it if you type it all in one word) as it would be easy to rank for in a short space of time. Originally we wanted the .com as well as the but right before our eyes (and only a week apart) the .com was snatched up (argh!!!). But seeing as the people that bought the .com hadnt done anything with the domain (except from putting a bog standard Joomla CMS holding page on there) we thought, nah it will be fine, we just want the ranking in Google UK anyway! Right? Doesnt seem too far fetched!??

Two weeks in, the .com is STILL ranking above! And Im banging my head against the wall, WHY oh WHY does this domain rank 1st and 2nd in Google UK?


1. Hosting: the .com is hosted in the US while we are hosting in the UK

2. Content: they have the phrase we are targeting once in the title tag, thats it, no more content related to the terms (except obviously in the domain itself)

3. They have NO LINKS WHATSOVER, we have nearly 100 links (some not so great, but some good quality links, AND a link from CW Jobs main site which is a high authority site (albeit the link we got is kind of buried ) Anchor text for incoming links varies between getitornot and technical test

4. Age of domain, both domains were bought in the same month (only a week apart) so age shouldnt have an impact.

5. .Com is surely duplicate content, how many sites must feature the standard Joomla holding page?? Ok yes fair enough our two pages are in theory duplicate contentish, but surely not as much as the .com is with thousands of other sites?

SO, after analysing this to death, and asking a million and one other SEOs, the only thing I can think of being the reason why this damn .com is ranking before the is the power of the .COM. Which is totally freakin annoying, as you should think a and hosting in the UK would be a massive hint to the bots that this site is UK targeted right? Which makes me think.are the Googlebots on crack or something?

Has anyone had any similar experiences where a .com (although hosted in the US with less relevant content and no links) have outranked your site in Google UK?

Whats your take on it?

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49 Responses to “Google; “I don’t get it!” – .Com Vs .Co.Uk”

  1. Jane Copland says:

    This really surprises me because usually it seems as though regional Google results are pretty well targeted. I’ll use my own vanity search here: I don’t rank number one in (from the US but I doubt that counts here) for my own name because a prominent British narrator has the same name as I do. Fair game.

    How long have the sites been up and how long has the campaign been going for? I’d like to think it’d sort itself out… It seems totally at odds to what Google would want to show UK searchers. And I do bloody hate it when holding pages rank. A .com should hardly indicate authority, even in the era of .infos, .mobis, etc!

  2. Bill Hicks says:

    Err, ‘cos that’s not a UK search you’re doing?

  3. Dudibob says:

    I think it could be because (although .com should be dup) Google is seeing .com as a proper site (internal/external links, pages and content) and as a splash page.

  4. Peter says:

    From my experience there are probably 2 things causing this:

    1. Anchor text variations?
    2. There might be a time penalty on those links coz of the rate you aquired them in the first place.


  5. @Jane: Uhu….Site has only been up for 3 weeks, and the .com might have been up for a week longer, if that.

    @ “Bill Hicks”: ehm I think you will find that I am! I don’t mean specify “Page from the UK”. If you search on you ARE doing a Google UK search. Ticking “Pages from the UK” will give you results for sites THAT ARE hosted in the UK, BUT that doesn’t mean isn’t a UK search. Google should still “prefer” UK hosted and targeted sites in the general search.

    @Dudibob: yeah that could well be. Definitely have a point there, but we are linking out to CW Jobs, and we have a sitemap.

    @ Peter: Hmm maybe, although we are varying anchor text (ok just two variations, but still) and also the domain is getitornot so don’t see why they should flag that. As most sites will have their domain as the anchor text when organic linkage occurs. Time penalty is also a good point, although we are not talking thousands of links. Never really experiences that as a problem before. Is there any way to check that? How do I know?

    Thanks everyone for your comments, appreciate it.


  6. Peter says:


    Even if the anchor text contains getitornot, it would be more normal to link with the full url or site name and main service IE “getitornot CW Jobs”.

    I would mix in anchor text such as the full url and “click here”, maybe even a few images.

    It also depends heavily on the types of links that have been built.

    2 variations probably isn’t enough… its way easier to trip a penalty with say 30 links to a new page than it is for 10 000 links on a more established page, the margin for error is way, way less.

    There is no real easy way to check without other cases to compare to. I’ve had a very similiar experience before and it just shot up the rankings after a month.

    Good luck.

  7. PPCblogger says:

    Google are having probs with their international filters at the mo.

    The US IP and registrar info should really demote it below the so I am suprised.

    Keep the links up and it should sort itself.

  8. Don’t worry, give it a week and you’ll be on top.

  9. Camilla says:

    How annoying, that’d drive me crazy! The point Dudibob makes some sense, especially as their hardcoded links means the .com site source code has lots of repetition of the word ‘getitornot’.
    Bear in mind you guys are way more experienced than me, and i’m just scratching for potential causes, but two things struck me:

    One is that their title tags are way smaller than yours, giving more power to their instance of ‘getitornot’ than yours. Small point but could make a difference.

    Other thing is that they’re listing without a domain wildcard, meaning the work ‘gotitornot’ is the very first thing Google sees in the URL, whereas with your domain they see the www first. I have no experience of that ever making a difference, but it came to mind so i thought i’d mention it. Know if that has any effect?

    You should keep us updated, i’d be interested to find out if time solves the problem or if it persists. Must say though, i’ve always found UK/US Google results to be pretty random and not terribly helpful from the perspective of either an SEO or an internet user.

  10. Camilla says:

    Also, quick additional thought: you’re using Yahoo Explorer to find inlinks to the .com right? But Yahoo haven’t even seen the .com yet, so there may be inlinks that Google can see but we can’t yet.
    Change your campaign to get people to type the phrase in to Yahoo? Mwah. :p

  11. Nice post Lisa, have you checked us out recently,, I feel iv’e made it up to you for the women in seo post :)

  12. That one’s not mine, honest! I’ll stick it on my domain catcher list though ;)

    I wonder how much beer it would be worth to make that site #1 for you… :D

  13. Thanks for all the great comments guys =)

    @ Peter: I see what you are saying but I really don’t think its the anchor text penalty, in that case I would think we would be further down than 3rd and 4th. But, appreciate the comment so will input a few variations on the links I can change at this point.

    @ PPC Blogger: Bugger, that can’t help either. Seems I have bad timing. Thanks for the heads up.

    @Richard Baxter: I really hope so, although need it to be top by Monday, not in 1 week. Gulp.

    @Camilla. Yeah I’ve thought that myself, will do some testing with the title tag. Hoping Google will index it quick enough for me to do testing before the weekend. At this point I agree with you and Dudibob about the source code! That is the only thing that is making sense at the moment, if the .com had just a normal holding page instead of a great big thing looking like a site with loads of internal links I think we would have outranked them ages ago. I’ve been trying to get hold of the owner of the domain, unfortunately hostgator can’t give out that information and is fobbing me off in every direction. UGH!! If I could just talk to the domain owner and persuade them to put a DIFFERENT holding page up than Joomla I really think we would be ok! I’ve even tried to dig deeper and find the owner, but nothing!!

    @Stephen: It better not be “Donkey”………

    @ALL: Again, really appreciate your comments. Although it’s frustrating at the moment, I love these kind of difficulties as that’s when you learn the most. The sweet world of SEO – never assume – as you will only get a Googleslap! =)

  14. Would it help if I ranked #1 for you? (obviously linking to your client and nothing too sinister)

  15. donkey, what makes you think you can easily get it to #1 if I can’t? How about you share with us all how you would do that instead?

    You can help me by giving advice, not do it for me, I’m not a damsel in distress :p

    Oh and don’t worry people, me and donkey bitch slap like this all the time…

  16. Mike says:

    If you have a quick shifty at the sites hosted on each IP address you can see that your domains on your IP seem to come from these guys ‘BBT’ – and they’re all pretty similar. Could be you’ve got a blacklisted/mistrusted IP for spamming. this would mean you’re probs may not be PageRank related but TrustRank (or whatever they call the trust factor at Google) related. AS such purely looking at backlink numbers/backlink keyword densities may not be appropriate areas in which to look.

    Or could just be that the .coms existed for longer and has got out of all those pesky time related filters – that .com may have been around a bit longer netcraft say they saw it in in May 2007.
    May be the domain lapsed and someone bought it a time later. Don’t know how google treat these kinda domains i.e. are they new domains or do they have historical data assosciated with them?

    Also they have a robots.txt file and a favicon. Could be that as your sites so new they’re using indicators of trust as the domain has no trust itself – and by these generating 404′s your losing this.

    have just realised that I’ve just invented a whole new conjecture that I’ll need to test and see if on new domains not having robots.txt and favicon.ico files can kill your trust

  17. That’s less fun though :P

  18. @ Donkey: don’t be such a gremling, share or I’ll start marking your comments as spam ;p

    @Mike: Interesting point about the IP sharing with BBT recruitment, although it’s not really that similar as we are not hosting CW Jobs. I would have thought it was a positive association with BBT as its a trusted site. But still, agree it might be a TrustRank issue (I like that term lol). Will look into that. Also good point about previous owners of the domain, might well be, think Google would carry historical data for the domain (although I know they are working to get rid of that so that buying old domains with trust and rank won’t work anymore. Pesky Googlebots…) Never thought the robots.txt and favicon would have a ranking effect, will definitely check that out though! It’s worth testing..

    In fact when this campaign is over I will write a blogpost detailing the things I tried, what didn’t work and what did seem to make a difference! Thanks again for your comments all (except from Donkey, you’re a tit wig!)

  19. Mike says:

    haha – ok conjecturing is more fun. but proving it one way or another will be more rewarding

  20. Mike says:

    TrustRanks a Yahoo thing – it was mentioned in one of their patents a while back. Patent apllication was called “Link-based spam detection” – which I thought was cool.

  21. Is that like a twiglet?

    ok, ok – I’ll email you some recommendations later today, although you may not like them.

  22. Camilla says:

    @Lisa. Ugh, annoying – i don’t have a problem with people wanting to keep their address and real names out of Whois searches, but an admin email address should always be accessible. Very annoying when hosting companies play interference.

    I bet all you’d need to overtake the .com would be just a few links to internal pages… maybe some with information on CW Jobs which then linked people through to the CW Jobs page? You’re creating extra clicks between your browser and your client though, which is kinda rubbish. Hmm. There’s not really any decent way of doing it, is there.

    In terms of a quick re-spider to see if title tag changes work… how about Google Sitemaps? (Not much point with just one page admittedly, but i’m wondering if a resubmit of a Sitemap might speed up Google’s spidering of the page.)

  23. @ Mike: ha ha, linked based spam detection..

    @ donkey: email, why can’t you share them? Greedy little hobbitses…

    @ Camilla: Already have Google sitemap for the site =) Might add another page, although it’s not ideal as it’s only meant to be a landing page. Oh and by the way the “geek test” was much better and longer originally but the client didn’t like the geek stamp and thought some of the questions might be offensive. Some of the questions we suggested were:

    Have you ever had an argument about which operating system is better?
    Yes, and always win!

    It is 2am on Saturday… What are you doing?
    Web surfing/blogging/chatting
    Stumbling (upon) home from a party
    Watching star wars for the 10th time
    Playing with myself whilst staring at my new ASUS laptop
    Do you have any friends that you havent met?
    Yes were getting married

    Do you regularly get asked to fix stuff just because you are in IT? Like your aunties toaster?


    Ok, well I laughed……

  24. Julie Joyce says:

    Oooh twiglets. Donkey, can you bring some twiglets to Seattle?

  25. Camilla says:

    @Lisa: Lol! I can kinda see why they didn’t want those in there, but they’re funny. I like the included “did you Google that last question?” one the most though!

    Sounds like evilgreenmonkey is planning on recommending some less-than-reputable techniques. Don’t dooo eeeet! :p

  26. Dudibob says:

    @Lisa lol, those questions are rude! anyway, back to the matter – Have you thought about linking from the index page of CW to it with some cheeky anchor text like ‘do you getitornot?’

  27. Mike says:

    @lisa: you missed out on the geek test:
    What is ubuntu?
    1. A pokemon
    2. An operating system

  28. LOL Mike, that Ununtu question is genius! Damn it, should have asked you guys for suggestions for the questions.

    Dudibob – lol yeah those questions were a bit borderline. Like your thinking with the CW jobs index page, BUT unfortunately I can’t get CW Jobs to change anything. IT takes 12 months for their programmers to change anything, unless its adding a whole new page, we did get a link from this page (but as you can see it’s kind of burried, I did suggest they change this url to just but no can’t do…)

    I think we are going to need a bigger boat ;)

  29. I see two possible issues:

    1. Joomla is a deep site full of content that is updated often, including Blogs which is great spider food. Although Joomla is not best optimized for the keyword in question, in comparing your site against the Joomla site, Google might recognize it as a what it is, a landing page (a one page ad). I agree it would be crazy for the Google UK engine to not lift a UK keyword domain to the top (where’s the loyalty?!) however if it’s a give and take between a one page ad and a full Web site, I think Goog is doing his job.

    2. Internal Linking – again because it’s a one page site the keyword isn’t supported by a structure of links to keyword related content within the site.

    3. External linking – whether or not Google recognizes as an authority site, this single external inbound link may not be enough to create the lift. This authority site isn’t necessarily an authority on your keyword. In addition, you link to CW and CW links back to you which is likely cancelling out CW giving your site credibility in the first place. Google caught on to this link exchange strategy a long time ago.

    I hope this helps! Love your blog keep up the great work. I’m all for chick power in this industry.

  30. Ciaran says:

    Because our friend Chris Cotton works for a competing site, and Google likes him more than you!


  31. Dudibob says:

    @Lisa :( Do you think they have the term ‘browse’ in enough in that URL structure. Another problem with things like this is sites doing reviews or catching the hype and blogging about it, then those pages move up the rankings like a few our (including SEO-Chicks)…sucks

    Perhaps try ;) no, seriously, in your overlay right/wrong thingy, add keywords and links.

  32. Dudibob says:

    :o ! it removed my tag! stupid comments, it was supposed to show the Google prayer meta tag, but I guess that failed :(

  33. I think you hit the nail on the head with your possible issue number 1! After allot of analysing these two sites side by side, I really do think its the size and structure of the Joomla site looking like a proper website compared to our 3 page landing pages. And as the bots cant see the images or know that this is in fact just a standard Joomla it prefers it to the (aghh!!) Interestingly though Yahoo doesnt list the .com ANYWHERE on the first page, and our site is 1st and 2nd position. But cant really change the ad to say Yahoo: getitornot Unfortunately it doesnt have the same ring to it ?

    But with regards to the external linking, I really dont think this is the issue, neither do I think the anchor text variation is an issue (sorry Peter). The .com has NO links, ok maybe CW Jobs might not be classified as an authority site, but thats not necessarily the juiciest link we have. And I dont think us linking to CW Jobs site will cancel out the juice of the link, although I would usually say that lol, I know reciprocal linking isnt as good as a one way. But when you compare it to the .com’s NO WAY linking, surely its better? Oh and by the way Im usually the one repeating Mikkel deMib Svendsens quote about reciprocal linking: I give you a beer, you give me the beer back, that doesnt give us more beer! *giggling to myself*

    Anyway, at this point I think Obi One Kenobi is my only hope ;) Meaning, I hope Matt Cutts or Brian White reads this and kicks that damn Joomla site out of the SERPs!

  34. David Temple says:

    Just searched on google uk and see you as #1 so something happened. FYI searched from Singapore

  35. Yep that’s right, ranking 1st and 2nd now, WHOOP WHOOP! Just in time as well as the off-line ad is published tomorrow. Phew…Man that was hectic. Thanks for all your comments and advise everyone, will be doing a follow up post on things we tested etc =)

    May the force be with us always :p

  36. Camilla says:

    Gordon Bennett, that was close! Phew, and congrats. :D

  37. Chance says:

    I am searching from spain and the is #1

    The char density on the .com would be higher due to it being shorter.

    Also the site is a hosted in the uk but it’s nameserver is usabased.

    You need to sort your blog a bit. If you make an error in your email addy etc you have to re-write the whole post!

  38. Hey Chance, are you the same Chance of Blackberry SEO that left a comment about me winning the Blackberry Woman & Technology Awards saying: “Amazing what good looks get you these days!”
    I don’t forget easily, in fact that’s one of the most insulting things said to me in my career. An apology might be appropriate?

    With regards to this comment, char density might be higher but that was not the determining factor. And maybe the DNS is US based but the actual hosting counts for more. And besides the site IS #1 now, thank god.

  39. Andy Beard says:

    It seems to have switched again, not sure if the campaign is still running.

    Also there are 404 problems

    Other little things…

    Try adding a space before question marks getitornot ?

    Add spaces to in both footers

    Avoid more than 1 followed external link per page

    Cycle the juice

    Might be stating the obvious, but I didn’t see webmaster tools mentioned (declare uk site)

  40. Hey Andy, thanks for leaving a comment =)

    Just checked the Google UK and we are still 1st and 2nd, nearly stopped breathing ;) So all is good.

    And yep have “declared” UK site via websmaster tools, one of the first things i did.

    Thanks so much for the heads up on the 404s, have fixed it now.


  41. Andy Beard says:

    I currently have you 5th and 6th

    With your search operators I get 1st and 2nd

    The comment system removed what I mentioned about the footer [getitornot] would be better [ getitornot ]

    You could also add some more pages to the site with legal formalities, with live links only from the sitemap, cycling juice from them only to the home page

  42. Camilla says:

    I get them 1st and 2nd through your link too Andy. We’ve had this problem at work quite often – with clients competing for quite hefty phrases being on page one on one computer in the office and page two on another computer! We put it down to different data centres being accessed for the results (although we’ve never really researched this), but it certainly makes things frustrating when a client is seeing a worse result than us.

  43. chance says:

    Yes – I am he – named chance from said Blackberry SEO (actually I am not sure why I post from that website as it’s just a project I did not get time for).

    As for insulting you(that really was not intended). I did post a nice comment for you but seems it did not make it. One to many margaritas in the sun I am afraid.

    I had wrote a longer more detailed post here but it got lost when I forgot my email address and I could not be bothered writing it all again..

    good enough?

  44. A good post Lisa. I have never see this type of problem. I will experiment this and let you know if I come up with any solution.

  45. Jim Kane says:

    You know what I HATE? Getting as many – or more UK sites when I’m NOT looking for UK stuff! I’m going back to where searches are in the US…NOT UK.

  46. Billy says:

    Too be honest – I’m a bigger fan of Dogpile than Google. They support charitable causes and work with all independent search providers to give a good mix of results.

    People are too lazy when it comes to search and want it all to be laid out for them in one engine. Problem is, Google, MSN and Yahoo all pick what shows up where.

    Research is meant to be RESEARCH – so look around for solid results.

    BTW – just launched a new site called – and their donating a portion of there revenue to Petfinder and the ASPCA.

    Great that theres a way we can help dog adoption programs at no cost.

  47. deepanshu says:

    nice post, whether country specific domain not perform well in other countries or it will get some preference in its own country?

  48. Gav says:

    In short deepanshu, yeah you’re right theere is some preference for country specific domain for searches performed within that country.

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