Ranking in Google UK
It's common for companies to do business in multiple locations around the world. On the search engine optimization (SEO) front, one of the goals for these global sites is to achieve high rankings regardless of the particular geographic-specific search engine being used e.g. Google.com vs. Google.co.uk.
With country-specific sites where the language isn't English, there's nothing to worry about. Simply register a domain with the country TLD and translate your English site to the appropriate language. What is possibly is deciding what to do in situations where the language will remain the same as is the case if you want a strong US, Canadian, UK, and Australian presence. Does it make sense to register domains for all of these countries and have your site duplicated across all domains? In short, yes it makes sense.
Here's how I would handle the case of a US-based business looking to improve rankings in Google UK:
- First make sure that your US-based site is well-established in the search engines. This is to ensure that no matter what happens with the other versions, the US one will keep on chugging along.
- While your US site is gaining authority, make sure you register the UK version of your domain. If your plans are ambitious, go ahead and register for countries even if you know you won't get to them for years. This way the domains won't be scooped up by someone else.
- Figure out how you're going to replicate your US site across to the UK domain. The solution to this will depend on your chosen infrastructure.
- While the content can be the same, I think it's smart to convert things like currency to be specific to the UK. And if you're able, adjust the spellings of words so they are correct for the country e.g. color instead of color for the UK.
- Make sure your UK domain is hosted in the UK. What I mean by this, is that the IP address assigned to the site maps to a location in the UK. You might want to mention this requirement to your hosting company.
- Once you launch your UK site, watch the natural search traffic of the US site. Any big dips will need to be investigated.
The biggest issue I see with this technique is that you now need to obtain inbound links to two sites whereas before you just needed to get links for one. And ideally, the links would be from UK-specific to re-enforce your location to the search engines.
As for duplicate content penalties, Adam Lasnik has publicly said you need not worry about such things. Here are his words about duplicate for US and UK sites: "But, more commonly we will simply see the UK version having the same text as the dotcom version. Now, we will endeavor to show the UK page to people that are browsing from UK, and the US page to people that are browsing in and near locations in the United States."