In an interesting change of events, Google has introduced a brand new facility in the Webmaster Central area that allows for a site owner to record the geographic location of their website and its intended audiences.
The benefit of this new feature is that Australian’s who utilise cheap web hosting overseas, along with generic .com domain extensions, can now start to be acknowledged as Australian, thus allowing them to rank in Google Australia more effectively. In the past a sites hosting location combined with relevant domain extension such as .com.au would decide the geographic location.
The Google geographic targeting does not allow you to specify multiple top level countries you wish to target, instead only allowing you one. The upside to this however is that you are able to set sub-domains within your site to different geographic locations.
http://www.hsbc.com could be targeted to the USA.
http://aus.hsbc.com could be targeted to Australia.
Increase competition for Australian pages?
We can’t be sure as yet. One would assume that with the increased ability for larger companies to target their key demographics off the back of a highly trusted and age old domain, the Australian results will start to be penetrated by larger players using this geographic targeting to their advantage.