20 Feb 11 1:22 pm
Davey, your question resembles sth where I had to go through a lot of pain, being in UK as well.
I partly support John, and I have staggering evidence to do so:
The server location seems(!) to dominate every other factor - although that's sad, cause it shouldn't!
My evidence is based on around 100 sites I own. Unfortunately, many sites "naturally" target the UK market, but sadly, all my sites so far are hosted in Chicago.
I could write a whole book about this, but to make it short: If you want sites to rank well INTERNATIONALLY, host them in the US. If you want UK sites to rank well in UK, by all means host them in the UK.
Only thereafter, yes, use com or org for INTERNATIONAL sites, and co.uk for UK sites.
Also, note my other post (re/ Amazon), if you target international customers, you may have to sign up with local vendors AND offer your visitors the RESPECTIVE link to purchase, or you won't get credit for sales.
And NO, Google automatically gives us in the UK the google.co.uk site (per geo-targeting). Hardly anyone goes in their Google account and changes the standard setting - most people don't even have a google account!
For Firefox there's a great plugin "Google Global" that allows you to see any search results easily in any other local google search engine. So, at the click of a button I can switch between google.co.uk results and say, google.com results. But again, none of your visitors will use that to find you more easily. ;-)
Finally, to put some meat to it: Of my .com sites that content-wise target the UK, NONE ranks well in the UK or in the US! But of my .com sites that content-wise target the US, quite a few rank on page 1 in Google.com (without any backlinking whatsoever!) but again rank badly in Google.co.uk (say, #278 etc). Once again: With my server being in the US, I have NO site that ranks well in Google.co.uk!! Of dozens and dozens!