How Many People Search "Pages from the UK" on Google?

Friday, 22 May 2009

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a campaign plan to get an international software company to appear in Google’s UK search results. The criteria are simple enough: you must have a domain name, have your website physically hosted in the UK or, preferably, both. To put your site’s British-ness beyond refute you would also back this up with a substantial number of inbound links from other sites that fulfil the same criteria.

If you’re part of a global company that is using a .com domain and hosting all its websites from its US head office you are going to incur some costs to appear in the UK results, but is it worth it?

A quick survey round the Zeta studio revealed that around half of us are still selecting “pages from the UK” as a matter of course. I stopped doing this when Google started giving higher rankings to UK sites on even when “the web” is selected, but it looks like many people still haven’t broken this habit. I’m going to call them PfUKers (Pages from the UK [er]).

To allow us to do a cost–benefit analysis of moving a site to the UK or changing to a domain name we need to know what proportion of the general population are PfUKers. I can’t find any useful data for this online, but we can analyse the referring URLs in our web server’s log files to find out.

I have taken the logs from a wide selection of sites and run them through my trusty old log analyser. This is a very small sample of data; if anyone has access to a large pool of log files please let me know.

  • Sample Size: 527,942 referrals
  • Number of “Page from UK” searches: 151,775
  • Percentage of “Pages from the UK” searches: 28.75%

From this we can estimate that around one in three UK searchers are still choosing “pages from the UK”. If you’re not a PfUKer the odds are the person sitting to the left or right of you is… go on, ask them.

How to contribute your stats

If you have log files with at least 100,000 searches then it would be useful to add your stats to the mix. You need a good quality log analyser or Excel 2007 (I don’t think an older version will handle this much data).

You just need to find out two things:

  • The total number of referrals from “” (this excludes product search, image search etc)
  • The total number of referrals from “” that also contain the string “countryUK|countryGB”

Please post your results in a comment or email me and I will collate the data.

  • Brad

    Google has now posted details of how its geo-targeting works in the webmaster tools help centre:

  • Brad

    @stephen Your are correct that a regional domain name (e.g. does not have to be hosted in the target country, but a generic domain (e.g. .com) does.

    At the time this post was written we did extensive research into this. I know Google have relaxed the geo-targeting rules now but I am sure that this rule still applies.

  • Stephen

    The location of the host should not influence the ranking of the site. Ie if it is a ‘’ but hosted in the US it should not matter, or it would be a case of being forced to host in your home country.

  • ian guiver

    An important issue for the very large number of companies operating in the UK but based in the US. I look forward to reading your conclusions

  • Benny Mitchell

    Interesting article, hope results are published

    • Brad


      If you email your stats to I will collate the data for you.