Optimise for Google New Zealand

Google comes in many flavours, and if your target market is in New Zealand, it's important you optimise for Google New Zealand as well as the International google.com
To be found in Google New Zealand, first you need to ensure Google sees your site as a NZ site. The information in this article applies to other countries, not just Google NZ.

What is the Local Search?

Google has localised versions of their search results all around the world. This makes the search results more relevant for people searching for local services. If you are looking for "lawn mowing services" you are probably looking to hire one from nearby, not from the other side of the world.

Google NZ Search

Google NZ search box - filters search results to NZ only.

Appearing in Google NZ Search Results

In order to appear in the local search, your website must appear as a New Zealand site. Google has 2 ways of deciding this, and your site must fit at least one of the following criteria...

  1. Domain name must end with ".nz" eg example.co.nz or example.org.nz
  2. Website must be hosted in New Zealand

Most of the time, a New Zealand website will fit the criteria. If it does not, your site will simply not be found in a Google NZ search.

This site is an example of a site that is hosted in the USA and has a .com domain. As far as Google is concerned, this is an American website. This site will not appear in NZ search results, however the content here is generally not targeted at New Zealanders so this was an informed decision I made (By hosting in the USA the site will run faster for international visitors).
If this was a site selling lawn mowing services, this would be a big problem.

Who uses Google NZ

I have not done in-depth studies on how many people use the localised version of Google, although I'm sure others have. If you try "lawn mowing services" on google.com, you will find mostly .com sites coming up first.

A similar search on google.co.nz showing NZ sites only will bring up mostly NZ results. A lot of people know this, and will use the NZ only filter when they are looking for local services.

Mention your country

Not everyone knows about the google.co.nz search, and these people will use the regular google.com search instead. However, searching for "lawn mowing services" on google.com won't return relevant results for a New Zealander, so the searcher is likely to try their second search as "lawn mowing services new zealand" or "nz lawn mowing services".

This is where SEO comes into play. In order to be found for these phrases, which are more likely to be the phrases people use when searching for your service, you must optimise your website as you would for any other phrase. You need to include "NZ" and "New Zealand" in your title. Include both in your META description, twice if you can. You should also include "NZ" or "New Zealand" in the H1 heading if it doesn't look too odd. If your website is not a ".nz" domain, you could also include "nz" in your page URL eg "www.example.com/nz-lawn-mowing-services.htm"
But most importantly, include "NZ" and/or "New Zealand" in your opening paragraph, in close proximity to the phrases you are targeting.
Let's face it, you aren't offering lawn mowing services to anyone other than New Zealanders, so to get maximum benefit from Google, you should refer to your service as "NZ lawn mowing services" instead of simply "lawn mowing services". It does make your opening paragraph a little harder for a visitor to read, but this will make it so much easier to be found for the NZ version of your targeted search phrase.


As an added bonus, these localised variations of your search phrase are much easier to get top rankings for, because there is a lot less competetion. By including ""NZ" in your targeted phrase, you will be able to get page 1 results that you might not have been able to otherwise achieve.

Are "NZ" and "New Zealand" the same phrase?

When Google returns search results, the words you have searched for are returned in bold. A search for "NZ" will bring back the word "new zealand" in bold - proof that Google sees a connection between these words. They are however different searches, and the results are not the same. To rank well for both variations, you need to use both variations on your site.

Checklist to ranking on Google NZ

  • Register a .co.nz domain name, or host your site in New Zealand.
  • Include "NZ" and / or "New Zealand" in every page title, twice in META Description, H1 if possible.
  • Try to use "NZ" and / or "New Zealand" in close proximity to your targeted keywords in the opening paragraph on each page - important.
  • If you need to increase keyword density, include the words "NZ" and / or "New Zealand" in your footer on every page - eg "Copyright 2006 YourCompany Ltd NZ."
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Tags: nzseonz seo