Setting a geographic target and other settings in Google Webmaster Tools

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 by Emily Mace

Google Webmaster Tools logoLast week I blogged about the new layout in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). The post covered all the main reports we regularly use and where they can be found in the newly-launched menu headings.

However, one thing I didn’t cover (and something I went to use this morning), is the option for telling Google the geographic target for your website, sub domain or sub folder.

The option to do this used to be in a settings menu which could be found in the left-hand menu of your site in GWT.   On the new menus which were launched earlier this month, however, this menu option has been removed – making it less obvious where to find the options for setting a geographic target for your site.

Now, this menu can be found in the ‘Settings’ option which can is on the cog icon in the top right hand side of GWT, as shown below.

settings drop down menu

This menu actually covers a number of things and not just the option to set the geographic target.

The ‘Site Settings’ option from this menu lets you see the preferred domain for the site as well as the crawl rate (which I’d not recommend that you change) and the preferred domain for your site. The options from this menu are shown below:

Site Settings

When setting the geographic target for your site, there are some things you need to take into account.

Firstly if you have a country specific domain name (ccTLD) such as a like the Vertical Leap site, Google will have already specified a geographic location for your site.  Google’s assumption here is that if you have a, you are a UK-focussed business. Likewise, if you have a .fr or .de address, you are targeting France or Germany respectively.  In these cases no changes are needed.

This does mean that if you have a .de domain and you want to target people in the US then you won’t be able to do this in the GWT settings, however. So, if you have this kind of target it might be worth making sure that you have a non-country specific domain name.

If you have a non-specific country domain name such as .com or .net, then you can use this tool to choose your target country from a drop down list of available countries.  The screen shot below shows a website which is a .com and has been set to target users in the UK.

setting a geographic target

This is really useful to help with making sure your site listings appear in the right version of Google. It can also be used if you have a sub domain or sub folder structure that serves content for different locations.  For example if your main domain is and you have a sub domain for the German market,, you can register this sub domain in GWT and tell Google that it is for the German market.  The same can be done if your German content is hosted as

Let’s take a quick look at the other settings available in the cog menu

Webmaster Tools Preferences

This option allows you to set up your preferred language for Google to send you messages. It also allows you to set up email forwarding which will ensure messages from Google are sent through to your email address and you don’t miss anything.

This is a universal setting which relates to your account and not a specific website.

Change of Address

If you have changed your website address, you can register your new website URL in GWT and then in the old site tell Google that your site has moved to this new address.

This will allow you to transfer across the rankings and history from one site to another in Google and let the search engine know that your site has moved.  301 redirects will still be needed.

To do this you need to be a site owner and not a user added to the account by someone else.

Google Analytics Property

This option allows you to set up the connection between the GWT Search Query Data and your Google Analytics account, which means that you can see this search query data in Analytics as well.

Again, this option is only available to site owners and not people who have been added to the account, even if they have full permissions in GWT

Users and Site Owners

This option is also only visible to site owners and allows you to see a list of the email addresses which have access to your GWT site.  Using this menu, you can add a new user to the GWT for the website in the same way you can do this from the homepage of GWT

Verification Details

This shows you the history of people who have verified the site as site owners and the verification method they have used, such as a Google Analytics account or file upload.


This menu allows you to see the connection between your website and a Google+ page. You can also add Associate users here too.

An Associate user is a person who can act on behalf of your site. This doesn’t give them access to your GWT data, but does allow them to do things on sites such as Google+ and YouTube on behalf of the website.

Hopefully, this overview will help you manage your site in Google Webmaster Tools.

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About the author

Emily Mace

Emily Mace

Emily joined Vertical Leap in 2008 and is now the Senior SEO Campaign Delivery Manager. Emily previously worked in training, IT Support, Website development as well as SEO and worked for local Government departments and Tourism South East. Emily gained Google Analytics Individual Qualification in 2011, and regularly blogs on the technical aspects of SEO, sharing her expertise with our readers. Follow on Google+