I've been wondering about this for quite a long time now. You've probably never wondered this if you only aim at ranking in google.com for an english keyword. This question applies especially for non-US local businesses. What if you want to rank on a specific country domain extension of Google ? (when your website's domain is a regular non-country specific .com or .net) You may say google choose accordingly depending on the language of your site. But many languages are spoken through several countries ! Let say you have a website for a local small business in the UK. Your website is in english but you probably want to rank in google.co.uk rather that google.com. If your local small business website is in german, how will G knows whether to rank it in google.de or google.at or google.ch in german ? And for a website in french, how will it rank in google.fr, google.be in french, google.ch in french, google.lu in french, google.ca in french ? What I know for sure is it does, but I can't figure out how. Google does know which country to rank your website for, I've seen several local companies ranking very well for their keyword in the google for their country, and not ranked as well in other countries where the same language is spoken. So how does google determines this ? I thought of a few possible answer already, but none of them seemed satisfying. - What I'm sure is it is not based on the hosting. I've seen companies' websites ranking only in their country while they were hosted in an other country. - It is obviously not based in domain extension. Lots of companies are using the regular .com or .net and rank well in their country only. - You can simply set a "preferred country" in GWT. Right, this helps for sure, but I'm pretty sure most of the websites I studied don't even know about GWT. - I also thought of the meta http-equiv="Content-Language" (in these you can put codes such as EN-US, EN-UK, DE-AT, FR-BE etc.) But these are rarely used properly on the websites I looked at. - Maybe Google looks at country names in the content (almost all companies have their postal address somewhere on their website), but that doesn't sound enough. Any thought or idea is welcome to be discussed !