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January 31, 2012

Country-Specific Blogger URLs

Google found an interesting trick to defend Blogger blogs against local laws: redirect readers to country-specific domains and only remove those URLs if required.

"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," explains Google.

"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." That means [blogname].blogspot.com will continue to exist, but it's not clear if the users from that specific country will still be able to access it.

Blogger will start to use country-specific domains, just like many other Google services. If you're in Australia and visit google.com, you'll be redirected to google.com.au, but you can opt-out by clicking "Go to Google.com" or visiting google.com/ncr. The same option is available for Blogger: "Blog readers may request a specific country version of the blogspot content by entering a specially formatted NCR URL. NCR stands for 'No Country Redirect' and will always display [blogname].blogger.com in English, whether you're in India, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, or anywhere. For example: http://[blogname].blogspot.com/ncr – always goes to the U.S. English blog."

Google doesn't mention the list of countries that are affected by this change, but Techdows.com reports that India is one of them. Obviously, blog owners can use custom domains if they don't like the new feature. Even if Google made sure that the duplicate URLs are properly handled by search engines, it could be annoying to see so many URLs that send people to the same page.

{ Thanks, Venkat and Herin. }

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