Google.com has historically redirected to country-specific versions. For example, if you are in Australia, typing Google.com in the browser will redirect you to google.com.au and in India, it would redirect you to Google.co.in. This redirection has been in place so that Google can serve up local content to the users. However, Google is now expanding the country specific URLs to Blogger based blogs as well.
Why does my blog redirect to a country-specific URL?
Q: Why am I seeing a URL change?
A: Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you’re reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or “ccTLD.” For example, if you’re in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected [blogname].blogspot.com.au. A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader’s current location.
Q: Why is this happening?
A: Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law. By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.
As per the Google help page, the move to country specific domains is so that Google can allow free expression for bloggers and also comply with valid removal requests from local authorities.
So, why this move? Several social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Google have come under fire recently from courts (Read: Indian Government and Courts Ignore Common Sense and Laws of the Land in a Drive to Leash the Internet) in India asking them to remove derogatory and inflammable content from their websites. Google however has not yet complied with the requests, but this change will allow them to remove country specific content.
Currently, this changes will only affect blogspot.com blogs and will not affect custom domains. The implementation of the domain redirection has already started in India where Google recently faced problems (read above story).
Majority of BlogSpot blog owners would be worried about the SEO for their blogs. However, Google has said that they will try to minimize the negative consequences of hosting BlogSpot content on multiple domains. They are also suggesting users to add rel=”canonical” directive to their blogs.
Q: Will this affect search engine optimization on my blog?
A: After this change, crawlers will find BlogSpot content on many different domains. Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative consequences of hosting BlogSpot content on multiple domains.
The majority of content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals, and therefore identical. For all such content, we will specify the blogspot.com version as the canonical version using rel=canonical. This will let crawlers know that although the URLs are different, the content is the same. When a post or blog in a country is affected by a content removal, the canonical URL will be set to that country’s ccTLD instead of the .com version. This will ensure that we aren’t marking different content with the same canonical tag.
If you are a reader of Blogger blogs, you can request to stop the redirects by adding “/ncr” to the end of the URL. NCR stands for “No Country Redirect” and will always display Blogger blogs in English.