GEO IP Redirects aren’t a good idea for SEO.
They are against Google’s Indexing and Crawling advice, and can result in de-indexation, reduced organic visibility, and at the end of the day, lost revenue for you or your client.
The better option is to provide users from different IP addresses with prompts to switch urls.
Bad Advice on Geo Redirects
As of 18th April 2019, the top ranking article on this topic is from a company that provides GEO Redirecting services, who seem to have cherry picked some old Google quotes about Geo Redirection to support their argument.
The #3 ranking article from the SERoundtable uses an eye catching headline claiming that GEO redirection is ok, but then has to back track in the article to clarify that the advice was for “state level redirects, not geo redirects”.
The other 2 articles below that are also from SERT telling you to avoid it, however as they are much older publish dates, some people skimming would assume that Google had changes their guidelines on the topic, which is simply not the case.
The Truth – It’s Not Smart… or Pretty
Google explicitly tell you to AVOID geo redirects.
As of 18th April 2019, in their official webmaster support guidelines here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192
Under the heading “Let the user switch the page language”, quote:
Avoid automatic redirection based on the user’s perceived language. These redirections could prevent users (and search engines) from viewing all the versions of your site.
I’d avoid redirects by IP location in most cases; it’s easy to break indexing & frustrate users.
Let’s See how it hurts…
Here is what can happen when you implement geo redirection on your website:
That’s the trailing off click data of organic search presence.
In this particular example, the entire UK site was de-indexed, and replaced with the USA website.
Great for their USA ad conversion data, not so great for their UK organic sales.
Updated November 2019 Example – Epic Fail
Here is another example of what a GEO IP redirect does to your organic traffic:
Yes that’s 1/4 of the traffic, keywords and traffic value lost overnight – not exactly SEO best practice!
How to check if your site redirects Google Bot?
Over the last few months I’ve seen a few sites doing this, and here are a few examples of how to find it:
- Run a url through the Google Structured Data Testing Tool OR
- Run a url through the Inspect any URL feature in Google Search Console (new version)
In these two tools you can check the source code / canonical url / other on page elements to verify which language version of the site you’re serving to the Google crawler.
If you’re seeing another language showing for the url you entered, you may have a geo redirect problem.
Here are some visuals of how it looks:
If you want to improve or even maintain your SEO visibility, avoid GEO IP redirects like the plague.
If you have any questions or need some help, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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