From time to time, clients request to implement forced GEO IP redirects for their international store views. And in most cases, it’s a very bad idea for SEO.
Whenever the SEO team is involved in decision-making, we oppose it strongly.
Because when such solutions are implemented, there is a great chance that organic traffic will rapidly drop, which is what one of our clients experienced when they went ahead and forced GEO IP redirects without consulting the SEO team.
Organic traffic went down by 80% in a matter of days! And it would take a lot of work to regain website traffic and recover the revenue that was lost.
Here’s a screenshot from Google Search Console showing the sudden and steep decline in traffic.
What is a forced GEO IP redirect?
A forced GEO IP redirect is the automatic redirection of a user based on their IP address. Here’s an example to illustrate it.
Say a website has two store views:
Forcing a GEO IP redirect entails setting a rule that whenever a user with a French IP tries to access example.com or example.com/de, they will automatically get redirected to example.com/fr. Similarly, a user with a German IP will be forced to go to example.com/de.
There are different versions of such forced redirects. And they can be applied to all the URLs of a website, just the homepage, or whichever page the admin decides to redirect.
Why is a forced GEO IP redirect not a good solution?
From an SEO perspective
Google needs to crawl a website in order to rank it. And Google often crawls with a US GEO IP. When users are restricted from accessing particular store views, Google is restricted as well—and that certainly results in lost rankings.
From a UX perspective
If a French user is in Germany or close to the border and is forced to visit the German store because of their location, they are barred from accessing the most suitable store view. Good UX is about providing relevant and pleasurable experiences to the user. Taking away the choice from a user to pick the store view that will serve them best is against this principle.
How to find the best solution?
It’s easy to tell someone not to do something because of its negative consequences. But giving an alternative solution can be much more complicated.
At Scandiweb, our SEO and CRO teams consider the unique case of every client to find the most suitable solution for them—because the best solution is always that which matches the needs of the business. Hence, it is always a good idea to consult the experts on the best approach to take whenever SEO performance might be affected, especially in the following cases:
- Planning changes in the URL structure
- Creating new store views
- Consolidating store views
- Implementing GEO IP or language-based redirects
Are you in the middle of one of the above situations? Get in touch with the Growth Team at Scandiweb today to learn about your options. Book a free consultation, and we’ll help you navigate this complex area of SEO.