While I was over at SES London a good friend and I were talking about a problem he has with one of his (international) clients. Basically, he ranks really well in the UK but not so well around Europe and somewhat worse further afield. The site in question owns the right TLD’s, though I never really got to the bottom of how they are being used.
“Hmm”, I said. “How are you hosting this stuff?” The answer, “In the UK”.
I’ve sat through a lot of *International SEO sessions at conferences and they all give the same type of advice (in no particular order):
- Get Inbound local links
- Use the correct TLD
- Use Google Webmaster Tools to verify your Locale (if you don’t own the TLD)
- Do local keyword research (understand local search behaviour over translating your keyword list in the UK)
- Don’t interlink too heavily
- Host at an IP inside the country you’re targeting
*Just on that International SEO conference note, you might want to check out Eduard Blacquière’s write up of the SMX London 2008 International SEO session. Wonderfully detailed write-up Eduard!
Anyway, our conversation continued on the subject of local hosting, as comparatively, it felt like the “hottest” topic in the list. The problem is (with hosting locally) is that the database driven site we were discussing had several different racks running databases with load balanced servers and all sorts of jiggery pokery. “Just” hosting locally is not an option.
Hosting “locally” with a proxy cache
“Web caching is the temporary storage of web objects (such as HTML documents) for later retrieval. There are three significant advantages to web caching: reduced bandwidth consumption (fewer requests and responses that need to go over the network), reduced server load (fewer requests for a server to handle), and reduced latency (since responses for cached requests are available immediately, and closer to the client being served). Together, they make the web less expensive and better performing.”
What if you could cache a copy of your website at a local hosting IP – miles away from the true location of the actual website? The jury’s out on the difference it would make alone, but when all the other international SEO boxes are ticked, perhaps locating your site in the middle of that particular location is the next step. Install a proxy cache in a remote location, change your TLD’s DNS and you’re ready to rock:
I found an incredibly detailed list of proxy servers on Brian Davison’s website. He seems to be the clear authority on everything proxy. Take a look at this page for a full list of software options.
Varnish is one of the newer proxies out there and seems to be favoured over Squid, another popular and well known proxy. I found a great article written by a blogger who decided to move to Varnish, and chose the proxy over Squid due to a simpler setup and less complexity.
If you’d like to install Varnish on your Ubuntu machine (Varnish runs on Linux only) then putting Varnish on Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10 machine is a straightforward installation using apt-get. Just go to Terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install varnish
Done. If you’re interested in the configuration via VCL then you’ll need to dig deeper and test (a lot).