Škoda Wars: How Did Slovak Version Beat the Czech One in the SERPs?
It actually happened. A Slovak version of the Skoda’s Kodiaq SUV page outranked its Czech equivalent, when searching from the Czech Republic.
So, how come the Slovak version appear when searching from the Czech Republic?
Yes, Czech and Slovak languages are fairly similar and no, it’s not a language detection issue. I actually checked that.
Let’s have a look at the authority of the individual URLs and their local relevancy using Ahrefs and SEMrush.
Czech version of SKODA Kodiaq page:
Zero backlinks lead to this particular URL. Google gets very few location signals.
Slovak version of SKODA Kodiaq page:
URL Ahrefs rank 23 versus 14. The Slovak version is clearly more authoritative. Why is that? Let’s see…
There are a couple of backlinks leading from Czech forums as well:
Backlinks from Czech forums lead to the Slovak page.
The Slovak page was published almost 4 months prior to the Czech one, according to archive.org. It clearly attracted a couple of links from the Czech forums when they launched the Kodiaq in Slovakia.
So, how can one track market inconsistencies in SERPs?
1. Search Console
Search Console will give you an overview of searches filtered down by countries.
SEMrush will show you which URLs appear for which keywords in a particular market, which comes in handy when doing SEO in Slovakia.
What do I do when market inconsistencies occur?
1. Link replacement
You can ask the author of the comment to replace the links to the more relevant ones. Some can actually appreciate that you are trying to provide the audience with better content. Especially when there is no rival company involved.
2. Link matching
You can also reply to the particular comment, offering the correct country version of the URL. But how do I learn about the link in the first place? Well, you can use various SEO backlink monitoring tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush or Majestic.
3. Be cautious with Hreflang
Make sure that you are not beating your head against the wall, here. As we already wrote, Hreflang is not an ultimate geo-targeting solution. In this case, other geo-targeting signals overrode such a strong geo-signal as ccTLD (.SK versus .CZ). My estimate is that it would beat Hreflang as well. Before implementing Hreflang in your international website, make sure other geo-signals are in alignment with your strategy. This way no users or robots will be baffled.