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Which country does a search engine think you are located in?

Search engines have moved forward dramatically over the past few years. We used to laugh when Well House Consultants was the top hit - in the world - for "Birth Notice" - but I suspect arrivals were very frustrated indeed to find that the article in question wasn't really a birth notice at all. These days, arrivals are far more accurate (thank goodness!) but there are still some places where the search engines aren't quite on target.

One such issue we came across earlier this year was in regard to having the search engines know where (in the world) our pages relate to. Our top level domain for our main site is a ".net" - carefully chosen as we're not limited to a single country in our work, and we provide internet (training) services. And www.wellho.net was hosted on a server that happened to be in Fremont, California. Nothing wrong with either choice there, but how on earth was Google supposed to know that it should serve up our pages when someone asked for "only UK pages", but not, perhaps, when someone asked only for "pages from the USA"? And it turned out to be might hard to discover just how the search engines place things by countries - after all, they don't publish their ranking algorithms; that would encourage people to play even more tricks than they do at the moment to get higher rankings!

Did we find a solution? Yes - sort of. With our web site traffic increasing dramatically (we now have some of our very niche technical pages accessed hundreds of times every day - and our whole site comprises many thousand pages), we moved www.wellho.net from a shared host to a dedicated server and we took the opportunity to specifically find a company that hosted in the UK. Not only did that (we hoped) give a UK element for the search engines, but it also cuts down the packet round trip time when we're working on the server, by a factor of about 10 times. That makes some difference to visitors browsing on our site - a marginal speed improvement - but it makes a big difference when we're working on our own server via a secure shell.

Here's a test showing our (new) www.wellho.net server in the UK, and the main domain (wellho.net) which still provides our backup and various other ancilliary services remaining in the USA.

earth-wind-and-fire:~/sep08 grahamellis$ ping www.wellho.net
PING www.wellho.net (83.170.95.163): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 83.170.95.163: icmp_seq=0 ttl=53 time=18.328 ms
64 bytes from 83.170.95.163: icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=14.991 ms
64 bytes from 83.170.95.163: icmp_seq=2 ttl=53 time=14.1 ms
^C
--- www.wellho.net ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 14.1/15.806/18.328 ms
earth-wind-and-fire:~/sep08 grahamellis$ ping wellho.net
PING wellho.net (64.62.240.12): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 64.62.240.12: icmp_seq=0 ttl=51 time=169.043 ms
64 bytes from 64.62.240.12: icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=168.967 ms
64 bytes from 64.62.240.12: icmp_seq=2 ttl=51 time=170.284 ms
64 bytes from 64.62.240.12: icmp_seq=3 ttl=51 time=169.576 ms
^C
--- wellho.net ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 168.967/169.467/170.284 ms
earth-wind-and-fire:~/sep08 grahamellis$



Server Layout

IP Map for web server

Location of internet server

Routing to internet server

Our server is whitelisted


$64,000 question - do the search engines now see us as being primarily UK? Yes, early evidence is that they do - although I don't know if this is a score based thing and we're just "more UK" now, or whether a switch has been flipped.

In exploring how we're now seen, I came across this very useful site - the Robtex Swiss Army Knife - which provides a very useful free range of information, samples of which I'm pasting down the left hand side of these paragraphs. And they even have an animated banner: \"ip which tells each of your site visitors about the connection they're currently on.

The diagrams (top) show how Robtex places our new server's network centre in relation to other main centres - how the traffic flows in and out - and the diagrams here show how our DNS is set up, the physical location of the server, and confirm that we are not blacklisted.


(written 2008-09-11, updated 2008-09-15)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G902 - Well House Consultants - Web site techniques, utility and visibility
  [4492] Almost so wrong, but perhaps it's right for some? - (2015-05-11)
  [4474] Effect on external factors on traffic to our web sites - an update - (2015-04-26)
  [4401] Selecting RECENT and POPULAR news and trends for your web site users - (2015-01-19)
  [4376] Well House Consultants, Well House Manor, First Great Western Coffee shop, TransWilts / 2014 web site reports - (2015-01-01)
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4136] How do I post automatically from a PHP script to my Twitter account? - (2013-07-10)
  [4115] More or less back - what happened to our server the other day - (2013-06-14)
  [4076] Web site - fully back! - (2013-04-29)
  [4001] Helping search engines with appropriate 400 error codes - (2013-02-11)
  [3974] TV show appearance - how does it effect your web site? - (2013-01-13)
  [3896] An email marathon - (2012-10-15)
  [3776] Some traps it's so easy to fall into in designing your web site - (2012-06-23)
  [3745] Legal change - You need to obtain user consent if you use cookies on your website - (2012-06-01)
  [3744] Short Web Addresses for Melksham - (2012-05-30)
  [3734] QR codes with marketing logos embedded - (2012-05-16)
  [3623] Some TestWise examples - helping use Ruby code to check your web site operation - (2012-02-24)
  [3589] Promoting a single one of your domains on the search engines - (2012-01-22)
  [3563] How big is a web page these days? Does the size of your pages matter? - (2011-12-26)
  [3554] Learning more about our web site - and learning how to learn about yours - (2011-12-17)
  [3532] Sharing the user experience - designing a form with the customer in mind - (2011-11-29)
  [3491] Who is knocking at your web site door? Are you well set up to deal with allcomers? - (2011-10-21)
  [3426] Automed web site testing scripted in Ruby using watir-webdriver - (2011-09-09)
  [3367] Google +1 - what is it? - (2011-07-22)
  [3197] Finding and diverting image requests from rogue domains - (2011-03-08)
  [3149] Looking back at www.wellho.net - (2011-01-28)
  [3087] Making the most of critical emails - reading behind the scene - (2010-12-16)
  [3022] Retaining web site visitors - reducing the one page wonders - (2010-10-31)
  [2981] How to set up short and meaningfull alternative URLs - (2010-10-02)
  [2668] Is it worth it? - (2010-03-09)
  [2569] How to run a successful online poll / petition / survey / consultation - (2010-01-10)
  [2552] Web site traffic - real users, or just noise? - (2009-12-26)
  [2532] Analysing Google arrivals by country of origin - (2009-12-10)
  [2519] Status Page / breaks of service in early December - (2009-11-30)
  [2410] Removal of technical resources from this site - (2009-09-19)
  [2389] Writing with our customers words - (2009-09-01)
  [2341] Koulutus, Open Source tietokone kielillä - (2009-08-09)
  [2340] ldning, Open Source dator språk - (2009-08-09)
  [2339] Opplæring, Open Source datamaskinen språk - (2009-08-09)
  [2338] Uddannelse, Open Source computer sprog - (2009-08-09)
  [2337] Opleiding, Open Source computertalen - (2009-08-09)
  [2336] Formação, Open Source computador línguas - (2009-08-09)
  [2335] Ausbildung, die Open-Source-Sprachen - (2009-08-09)
  [2334] Formazione, Open Source computer lingue - (2009-08-09)
  [2333] Formación, de los lenguajes de código abierto - (2009-08-09)
  [2332] Formation, des langages Open Source - (2009-08-09)
  [2225] How important is a front page ranking on a search engine? - (2009-06-09)
  [2065] Static mirroring through HTTrack, wget and others - (2009-03-03)
  [2056] Web Site Loading - experiences and some solutions shared - (2009-02-26)
  [1982] Cooking bodies and URLs - (2009-01-08)
  [1970] Plagarism - who is copying my pages? - (2009-01-02)
  [1961] Making our things easier to find - (2008-12-26)
  [1955] How to avoid duplicating web page maintainance - (2008-12-20)
  [1888] Find the link - (2008-11-16)
  [1856] A few of my favourite things - (2008-10-26)
  [1833] Web Bloopers - good form design - avoiding pitfalls - (2008-10-11)
  [1797] I have been working hard but I do not expect you noticed - (2008-09-14)
  [1756] Ever had One of THOSE mornings? - (2008-08-16)
  [1747] Who is watching you? - (2008-08-10)
  [1711] Rapid growth leads to server move - (2008-07-17)
  [1653] How do Google Ads work? - (2008-05-25)
  [1634] Kiss and Book - (2008-05-07)
  [1630] To provide external links, or not? - (2008-05-04)
  [1610] PHP course dot co, dot uk - (2008-04-13)
  [1554] Online hotel reservations - Melksham, Wiltshire (near Bath) - (2008-02-24)
  [1541] Colour, Composition or Content - (2008-02-16)
  [1534] Where in the world / country is my visitor from? - (2008-02-07)
  [1513] Perl, PHP or Python? No - Perl AND PHP AND Python! - (2008-01-20)
  [1506] Ongoing Image Copyright Issues, PHP and MySQL solutions - (2008-01-14)
  [1505] Script to present commonly used images - PHP - (2008-01-13)
  [1494] A time to update pictures - (2008-01-03)
  [1437] Above the fold with First Great Western - (2007-11-19)
  [1297] Stuffing content into a web page - easy maintainance - (2007-08-09)
  [1237] What proportion of our web traffic is robots? - (2007-06-19)
  [1212] What brought YOU to our web site? - (2007-06-01)
  [1207] Simple but effective use of mod_rewrite (Apache httpd) - (2007-05-27)
  [1198] From Web to Web 2 - (2007-05-21)
  [1186] Two new pages / sites - (2007-05-14)
  [1184] Finding resources - some pointers - (2007-05-13)
  [1177] Sorting out for a site map - (2007-05-05)
  [1104] Drawing dynamic graphs in PHP - (2007-03-09)
  [1055] Above the fold - (2007-01-28)
  [1029] Our search engine placement is dropping. - (2007-01-11)
  [1015] Search engine placement - long term strategy and success - (2006-12-30)
  [994] Training on Cascading Style Sheets - (2006-12-17)
  [976] Santa at the station - (2006-12-09)
  [916] Driving customers away - (2006-11-07)
  [893] Visibility - (2006-10-14)
  [800] Effective web campaign? - (2006-07-12)
  [767] Finding the language preference of a web site visitor - (2006-06-18)
  [757] Horse and Python training - (2006-06-12)
  [732] Where is a web site visitor browsing from - (2006-05-24)
  [718] Protecting images from theft - (2006-05-12)
  [681] Mirroring a dynamic site - (2006-04-12)
  [658] Keeping the visitors happy and browsing - (2006-03-26)
  [649] Denial of Service ''attack'' - (2006-03-17)
  [533] Bigger Box Campaign - (2005-12-18)
  [528] Getting favicon to work - avoiding common pitfalls - (2005-12-14)
  [510] Dynamic Web presence - next generation web site - (2005-11-29)
  [492] New Navigation Aid - Launch of My Wellho - (2005-11-11)
  [414] Form Madness - (2005-08-14)
  [376] What brings people to my web site? - (2005-07-13)
  [369] CMS - the minefield of Choices - (2005-07-05)
  [348] Graveyard pages - (2005-06-15)
  [347] Frightening and from-friend viruses and spams - (2005-06-14)
  [322] More maps - (2005-05-23)
  [320] Ordnance Survey - using a 'Get a map' - (2005-05-22)
  [314] What language is this written in? - (2005-05-17)
  [311] Growth pains - (2005-05-14)
  [288] Colour blindness for web developers - (2005-04-22)
  [284] The Iconish language - (2005-04-19)
  [278] Cover all the options - (2005-04-13)
  [276] An apology to Mr Boneparte - (2005-04-11)
  [274] Our most popular resources - (2005-04-10)
  [268] Information request forms, cleaning up spam - (2005-04-05)
  [261] Putting a form online - (2005-03-29)
  [259] Responding to spam - (2005-03-27)
  [222] Who are all these visitors? - (2005-02-20)
  [202] Searching for numbers - (2005-02-04)
  [197] Allow for peak traffic on your web site - (2005-02-01)
  [182] Your personal Google ranking - (2005-01-19)
  [179] The hunt for unique words - (2005-01-16)
  [173] Data Mining - (2005-01-09)
  [165] Implementing an effective site search engine - (2005-01-01)
  [142] Colour for access - (2004-12-06)
  [117] A case of case - (2004-11-14)
  [109] URLs - a service and not a hurdle - (2004-11-04)
  [98] No more 'Error 404' pages. Something better. - (2004-10-24)
  [32] Web design platoon - (2004-08-29)
  [23] Skills and responsibilities - (2004-08-22)

G911 - Well House Consultants - Search Engine Optimisation
  [4121] Has your Twitter feed stopped working? Switching to their new API - (2013-06-23)
  [3746] Google Analytics and the new UK Cookie law - (2012-06-02)
  [3670] Reading Google Analytics results, based on the relative populations of countries - (2012-03-24)
  [2748] Monitoring the success and traffic of your web site - (2010-05-01)
  [2686] Freedom of Information - consideration for web site designers - (2010-03-20)
  [2562] Tuning the web site for sailing on through this year - (2010-01-03)
  [2428] Diluting History - (2009-09-27)
  [2330] Update - Automatic feeds to Twitter - (2009-08-09)
  [2324] What search terms FAIL to bring visitors to our site, when they should? - (2009-08-05)
  [2137] Reaching the right people with your web site - (2009-04-23)
  [2107] How to tweet automatically from a blog - (2009-03-28)
  [2106] Learning to Twitter / what is Twitter? - (2009-03-28)
  [2045] Does robots.txt actually work? - (2009-02-16)
  [2019] Baby Caleb and Fortune City in your web logs? - (2009-01-31)
  [2000] 2000th article - Remember the background and basics - (2009-01-18)
  [1984] Site24x7 prowls uninvited - (2009-01-10)
  [1971] Telling Google which country your business trades in - (2009-01-02)
  [1969] Search Engines. Getting the right pages seen. - (2009-01-01)
  [1344] Catching up on indexing our resources - (2007-09-10)
  [427] The Melksham train - a button is pushed - (2005-08-28)


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Some other Articles
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Python 2 to Python 3 / Python 3000 / Py3k
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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