Google has decided to redirect their Google.kz domain to their global homepage Google.com, in response to a Kazakhstan law enacted last month requiring all .kz domain websites to be hosted on servers within their country.
Google has announced that it will no longer serve customized search results to Kazakhstan, instead redirecting them to global results. The company won’t relocate, as it raises too many questions about network efficiency, user privacy, and freedom of expression – and would create a “fractured internet,” according to Google.
What does this mean to Kazakhstan web site owners? Well, as opposed to the location influenced search results potential visitors were seeing prior to the redirect, their websites now compete with the world. Companies that were making a living from their good positions in Google.kz results now face a hard slog. Though Google could use IP information to filter results in the global listings, it isn’t likely.
Brick and mortar sites may now still list well in location-based searches, but where they may have ranked high for various items searched for in their native tongues, these listings will compete with neighboring countries who share them. Even if there was a domain extension element in the algorithm, quality link numbers has a more direct impact and will thus bring in serious competition. Russian seems to be spoken by nearly all Kazakhstanis so there will be competition.
Search marketers in Kazakhstan must be scrambling to help their local clients. There will be an impact to local businesses and how it shakes out will be worth watching from a perspective of the influence of the web on a country’s economy. Kazakhstan has a strong economy at the moment. The question is if it will stay that way.