We have had opportunities to work with governments, NGO’s and organizations of all types.
Before we can advise a client on the steps they should be taking, we need to understand the context. When working with a country, it is important to ascertain what results are normal for a country.
Clients will usually say something like, “CIA Fact Book?! Why is the entry for CIA Fact Book coming up so high for us? Does Google consider our (banana?) republic a terrorist state?”
To answer these and other questions we start by looking at the expected results for countries.
Below is a chart for Dec 17, 2012 showing the most frequently appearing domains for countries searched in Google. This table considers the first page of Google as seen in the US only. Note that results in any specific location may vary, so that searching in Google.fr (France) would be expected to yield more sites that pertain to that location.
Numbers on the chart indicate the number of countries displaying this domain in their first page Google results.
It is interesting to note that cia.gov and state.gov dominate the results along with the ubiquitous Wikipedia. If you are responsible for the branding of a country, this table serves as some initial context. Any site here that also appears for your country should not be a shock.
One of the surprises for me was a site called infoplease.com (by Pearson Education) which ranks for 57 countries* even though it is of lower quality! I’m actually not sure what to make of it – it may well appear in situations where a country has not done even a basic job of creating or curating web content that can outrank this low quality scraper search site. (*In case you want to dig deeper, the complete list is at the bottom of this post.)
Also – the role of community-generated content for country results should not be underestimated – Wikipedia and Wikitravel each serve as top domain results for most countries. This certainly suggests that ignoring community content would be unwise.
So what’s your strategy?
In general, your goal should be to design the ultimate branding and focus. Perhaps you would prefer results focused more on industry rather than tourism or political news? With that in hand, you’ll develop strategies to achieve these goals.
If you have questions or comments or would like to dig deeper into the data with us – feel free to drop us a line.
*Countries for which infoplease.com ranks in the top page of Google results:
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina
12. Cape Verde
17. El Salvador
18. Equatorial Guinea
35. Marshall Islands
40. The Netherlands
43. Papua New Guinea
48. São Tomé and Príncipe
53. United Kingdom