US results reappearing in Google UK SERPs?
Back in June 2009 Google made a significant change to their algorithm that allowed foreign websites to rank within Google UK that do not specifically focus on a UK audience. Matt Cutts and Google argued that non UK specific websites can still be relevant to a UK audience, say if you’re looking for a help manual or a recipe blog. However, I would argue that travelling to Australia for a bite to eat with your better half – isn’t that relevant. Today, I noticed that Netflix, the leading Movie provider in the US, is on page one in Google UK for a number of keyword terms. Only problem is – the website doesn’t allow users in Europe to view the material – so why is it ranking on page one in Google UK?
Everything I’ve read about Netflix is extremely positive, especially with the website dominating the online market with 30%, and I’m sure that the quality of their service is first class. But this quality should not mean that the website appears in a country where the content isn’t accessible. Take a look at the below chart, which highlights the position improvement since the weekend:
So what gives? As soon as a user lands on the website they are met with the following message:
There is no doubt that the change in June 2009 was a monumental one, which increased the online competition dramatically. If Netflix offered movie streaming to a European audience, then there would be no arguments from me on its inclusion within Google UK. However many of the changes that Google has made over the past eighteen months, especially in the Movie industry as I highlighted last month regarding the weight given to keyword rich domains, have had a negative impact on searchers who have been forced to change their searching habits (see Google insights chart in the Keyword rich domains blog).
Do Google know what they’re doing (i.e. promoting a US company abroad) or are they simply ignorant to the fact that their search results are suffering in one their most popular markets?
Edit 09th June 2011 – I tweeted Matt Cutts about this yesterday and received the following response:
Edit 16th June 2011 – Over the past week, since the rise of a non UK relevant website in Google UK, I’ve noticed foreign websites (not hosted in the UK or a .co.uk ccTLD) being included within the tab ‘Pages from the UK’:
So why are currently seeing an even greater influx of foreign websites in a ‘UK only’ filter?
Edit 20th June 2011 – The results worsened over the weekend with nearly all non-UK relevant websites appearing within the ‘pages from the UK’ filter: