Blocking Traffic from Other Countries & It’s Affect on Google
So over the last month or so i’ve debated blocking traffic to Kashmer Interactive from a few select countries. The main reason for wanting to do this is because my site, just like almost every other website out there, has been getting spammed lately. This spam tends to come in a few forms. Trying to hack into my website’s CMS and even mentioning us on social media where we’re not related or relevant to them or their country.
We also have the common Google Analytics issues with fake pageviews and erroneous data. The thought process on blocking several countries didn’t come about because of the GA data issue, but it did make me think … “this could actually help us clean up some erroneous GA data as well!”
So of course my next thought was, could this affect SEO in anyway. In doing some research on this subject I came across a few takeaways.
There was quite a few different opinions and article’s on how it will or will not affect SEO. Here’s was a few opinion’s from moz users. Based on everything, my take on it is this….. Anytime you block a country from accessing your website you block users as well as the potential to secure inbound links from those sites / audience. So when you block specific countries you do have a certain risk that it could impact your SEO results. With that said, it comes down to the countries your looking to block and how much your link profile could be affected by those countries.
In Ki’s specific case, we’re not targeting countries outside the U.S. where we offer services. On top of that, we’re not actively working on attracting or securing inbound links from these countries. And more specifically, we’re only looking at 2 – 3 countries that may be blocked. So our risk of it impacting SEO from a traffic or inbound link standpoint is extremely low.
I wanted to see how Google stood on blocking entire countries of traffic to our site. Interesting enough, there was a bit of confusion at Google as well. John Mueller, a very well known voice at Google stated that Google could potentially view blocking inbound traffic from entire countries as Cloaking. This didn’t make much sense to me. Many other internet marketing guru’s had the same view. I uncovered an article specific to Google’s view being discussed: http://sphinn.com/story/56635#c46573. Input from Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts was present.
The stance by Google was actually incorrect initially. Danny Sullivan cleared the air with a response from Google “As long as the web server always blocks IPs from (say) Africa, it’s not doing anything special/different for Googlebot, and so it wouldn’t be considered cloaking, but geolocation instead.”
Should you (I) block web traffic from outside countries and will it affect Search Engine Optimization efforts.
Blocking outside countries is a completely acceptable practice and will have little to no affect on your SEO efforts, all pending how you implement the block. Meaning, if you decide to block every single country outside of your service oriented country, there will be some form of negative effect. But, if you selectively choose outside countries that are causing more issues than good and you will never service those countries and your information will never benefit those countries than it only makes sense.
It is important to understand that by blocking a country (countries), you will not receive traffic or inbound links from those area’s of the world. You must weight that into your final decision.
Part 2 of this topic … How to block outside countries effectively will come in our next blog post.