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Is search marketing different for multinationals?

I got an e-mail recently from someone at a large, multinational company who is in a quandary. They’ve had some success with their U.S. Web marketing, but now each of the country teams in the company are demanding help. What are the best ways to manage a multinational Web site presence? My correspondent was concerned about how hard it is to do and what unwanted impacts might await.

She wrote, in part, “We know that to rank highly on our site really needs [an AU] domain name. However, the concern is how to manage this for all the other offices then? (If we do it for one, they all will want it.)” She’s right, and it can be hard to manage. Search engines include sites in their country search engines that have country domains (as she notes) or are hosted within that country. Many companies find both of these solutions difficult to manage.

Many companies prefer to host all country sites under “.com” and use the country identifier in a directory within the URL (, rather than setting up dozens of country domains. Similarly, it’s usually more expensive to host country sites within each country—you save money with regional hosting centers for multiple countries. Search engines are getting smarter, however. In some cases, pages that are heavily linked from other country pages seem to be included in country indexes even without the right domain name or server address.

Our writer went on, “Also, from what I understand, search engines tend to filter out duplicate content pages. So having different domain names with the same content doesn’t seem like a good solution to me?” Typically, the content wouldn’t be duplicated precisely, because language, dialect, messaging, and currency differences make each country’s content unique, even if the products are the same.

She also asked, “How about IBM? How do they handle this?” Glad you asked. I did a presentation at Search Engine Strategies in Toronto back in 2005 on just that question. Check out “Multi-Country Search Campaigns.”

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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