I had an interesting question yesterday regarding the possibility of redirecting visitors to other company owned websites based on IP Location. For example when you visit google.com outside of the United States you are automatically redirected to your local Google provider. For example if i’m in Canada and type in Google.com i’m automatcally redirected to Google.ca , Google Australia automatically redirects me to Google.com.au .
If you have an online business and you want to redirect your visitors to other sites you own based on location (IP addresses) there are a few things to note when doing this to avoid getting punished by Google.
Have your visitors redirected to similar domains that are owned by the same company. For example if I own www.seoguelph.com and I get a visitor from Singapore and redirect them to www.seoguelph.com.sg that is perfectly fine. For starters Google recognises that i’m redirecting visitors from Singapore to a Singapore site with the same name as the site they came from. Try to avoid sending Singapore visitors to www.seoguelph.co.uk this can raise red flags for Google as they may start to wonder why you are sending visitors from Singapore to a UK extension site.
Never redirect users to completely different domains. For example if I own www.ponyfarm.com and I want to redirect Canadian visitors to www.golfshoes.com then this is going to start looking suspicious. Remember that there is a fine line between cloaking and legitimate IP location based redirecting. Don’t get caught out confusing the two.
Try to have the users redirected from the home page not 3 pages deep into the site. I have seen examples of web developers that have the users navigate the site perfectly fine, then halfway through the website they are suddenly redirected out of nowhere. I would advise against this. If you want to redirect someone based on location make sure this occurs the moment they hit the site, not halfway through. From a user perspective I wouldn’t want this either.
The most important point which i’m saving for last is to ALWAYS treat robots (especially Googlebot) the same way that you would treat human visitors. For example if you are redirecting robots based on IP location only and not applying it to human visitors. For example a robot from Italy gets redirected but a human visitor from Italy doesn’t then you WILL get punished by Google for cloaking. This kind of practice can wipe out all the hard work you have done in an instant which is why you have to be careful not to do this unintentionally. Be sure to check with your SEO consultant before attempting this. To avoid this ALWAYS treat robots the same as you would a human visitor. For example a human AND robot visitor from Italy gets automatically redirected to the Italian version of the site, not the human or robot only.
Still confused? Please take the time to check out Google’s official video regarding redirecting traffic based on IP location. I have attached the video below.