Recently there seems to have been a greater proliferation of US results for searches which should return more localised listings. 

One such example is supermarkets. If people search for this and related terms, they should be seeing retailers that actually trade in the UK. 

However, we're seeing Walmart, kmart and others appearing in what should be localised search results...

Here's one example, showing Walmart in a search for supermarkets, as well as the Wall Street Journal, and even a supermarket based in India. 

If we look in more detail at Walmart's Google UK search rankings over the past year, we can see it ranking for various terms. 

Mainly, it has been well down the list but results have picked up since around August. The supermarket is now in the top 20 positions in Google for several terms. 

The same applies to Target, another US retailer which doesn't sell to the UK. 

It too experienced an uplift from August onwards. 

Kmart is another and having had very little search visibility for most of the past twelve months, it is suddenly ranking for lots of shopping related search terms. 

It isn't just US retailers., an Australian retailer, is also appearing in Google UK. 

Like the US examples shown here, it doesn't service the UK. It has also experience the same post-August uplift. 

Why are these US sites ranking on Google UK?

While US results are useful for many search terms, they are not relevant or particularly useful to users inputting shopping and grocery search terms. 

This seems to be one area where Google's results have become less relevant. These retailers are essentially displacing results from sites serving a UK audience. 

The reason for this is unclear. None of the algorithm updates listed here appear to explain the pattern we're seeing here. 

So why are we seeing these results in Google UK? All suggestions welcome....

Graham Charlton

Published 10 November, 2014 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (12)

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Illuminati confirmed

almost 4 years ago


Debanjan Mitra

There are few reason why US sites are ranking well in US

1) Most of the english websites target US and UK local from same websites as a result algorithm dont different them for ranking purpose.
2) Instead of country specific domains ( they used .com
3) Most webmaster dont use href lang attribute as recommened by google.
4) Most of the Eng backlink from UK targeting websites.
5) many more....

almost 4 years ago



It's depend on target are of the business

almost 4 years ago


Sam Silverwood-Cope

To the above commenters:

Yes sure, the US, UK and Australia share a language. I totally accept that.

Yes brands do target multiple nations. And yes backlinks do come from all over the place.

But this data shows that there has been a greater proliferation of US, Indian and Australian brands within the UK serps from August.

Surely there is something wrong if an Australian site appears for "lingerie" in the UK SERPs when it doesn't deliver to the UK. Or an Indian site for "online supermarket" - what are we going to get a next-day delivery?

Plus surely there are 99 better placed UK companies or news articles that should be in the SERPs?

This shows there is something wrong with the Google algorithm.

almost 4 years ago


Luke Taylor

Cynical hat on...
They do this to make the organic results less relevant to drive people to click on the ppc listings.

almost 4 years ago


James Seber

Yes, we have definitely noticed this - as an e-commerce site we expect to appear on SERPs alongside other UK sellers of similar products, but we are often bumped on to page 2 due to the US shops appearing so high.
I wonder how many Google users would think to switch to UK results only, or even know how to find that option?

I agree with Luke Taylor, as from a shopping point of view it is going to make potential customers abandon the natural results and look at the Google Shopping results instead, where we have to pay to get better positions.

almost 4 years ago


Andy Robson

It seems to me that Google just want you to have an account and be logged in all the time – this way you get results based on your location.

I don't have a problem with that as it makes my search results much more relevant.

almost 4 years ago


Andrew Cock-Starkey, Product Marketing Manager at Cambridge English Language Assessment

An interesting one. The common language is clearly a factor. I suspect it's related to the geo and lang tagging of these sites; as well as the broader 'SEO' work of each site (backlinks etc.)

almost 4 years ago


Daniel Gleeson

I wonder if so many US users are using TOR or other proxies, that Google is rolling back on some of its localisation to try to ensure its most valuable users (i.e. US users) get to the locations they want (as the IP address would drive users to the "local" versions of google)? Maybe?

almost 4 years ago


Sam Cope


I've just done a search for "Best bikes for £100". (try it).

Page one has offering bikes for $100. Then page two has many sites stating $100 or 100 bucks bike offers, and "America's best bike shop".

How can this be more relevant to my search or my needs here in the UK?

A few years ago we used to have to write "UK" after every search, it looks like this is coming back.

almost 4 years ago


James Clark

Interesting, I've been seeing a lot of Target results come up recently, it's annoying because some of their deals look awesome!

almost 4 years ago


Rex D, Various at Self-Employed

It's definitely getting worse. I was trying to research a way to stop it happening when I came across your blog. It's bloody annoying frankly and slows down my shopping experiences.

Worse, when I google Ebay now and log in, I find I've logged into the US version of the site. I end up having to go back and search for Ebay UK to get the correct site. It never did that before.

This recently development is absolutely due to some chane in Googles search engine settings, it can't be anything else. I want my old UK results back thanks or I'll have to switch to another search engine for the first time in over a decade.

over 3 years ago

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