This past year saw the trend in supporting British business climb sharply. We’ve seen Mary Portas’s Government-backed scheme to save the British High Street and watched as Dragon Deborah Meaden became ambassador of the Britannia show that showcased the best in British design, manufacturing, arts and culture.
Amongst this trend, the Bradshaws, a British family from Kent, decided to try live normal lives whilst buying only British goods and services for a whole year.
Head of the family, James Bradshaw, set up a website and registered the appropriate social channels to give the family a place to promote and talk about their successes and challenges.
Despite the consideration that went into the challenge, they hadn’t prepared for the huge amount of attention they received and the trials it would present for their website.
Bradshaw explains: “The media attention resulted in over 100,000 hits on our website in the first month alone and it was becoming obvious that our existing technical set up could not handle the increase in traffic. An additional irony to all of this was that whilst we had committed to buying only British, our website was hosted in Germany and there was no end of people wanting to point this out to us!”
Bradshaw not only wanted to transfer his web hosting to the UK as soon as possible but he also needed help moving the site. So, James sent a plea out to the family’s twitter followers to see if anyone could help. Fortunately UK based web hosting firm, names.co.uk came to the family’s aid.
James explains his relief: “Work got underway almost immediately and within one week we were safely transferred over to new servers, without a hitch and hosted in good old Blighty!”
Even though the Bradshaw’s reasoning to switch to a UK provider was fuelled by their buy British challenge they also achieved other benefits. By hosting their site locally, the Bradshaw’s had helped ensure their website is visible for people searching for it from the UK.
Bradshaw said: “We had no idea that there were additional benefit to hosting locally, however names.co.ukhelped me understand that this is because Google considers both where the website is hosted and details from the domain name (e.g. ‘.com’ and ‘.co.uk’) when ranking a website.”
Bradshaw continued: “We really wanted to help British people buy British so it was very important that if someone was searching us or what we were doing from the UK we wanted our website to show up, so by having a UK service provider and a .co.uk domain name we felt even more confident that we would be able to help guide other people wishing to live British.”
Some businesses have domains that don’t reflect the geographic region of their customers, such as website domains that end in ‘.com’ when they are actually targeting UK customers. By switching to a UK website host, like James, they can help Google understand they are targeting UK customers.
James explains: “In hindsight it makes sense to me why this works because Google wants to provide people with the most relevant content and often that is based on where in the world the searcher is. For example, ‘.co.uk’ domain names are very relevant for user queries originating from the UK, hence they will try to return those results for searches coming from domain names in the UK.”
James also observed another key factor that helped their website rank well in the UK: “We were fortunate to have gained quite a large amount of media coverage and over a third of the websites linking to our site came from the UK which over time clearly helped increase our website rankings and hits too”.
The Bradshaw’s experience is a good example of how most SME’s don’t even realise that where their website is hosted could effect how much traffic they get and how easy it is for potential customers to find them through the internet. This is specifically important for local business like a hair dressers or electricians, because these types of businesses care most about local people being able to find their website.
As the family discovered choosing a website host based in the location you want to generate business from, alongside building local links to your website, can increase the ability of potential customers being able to find local businesses online.