Countries have their own top-level domains.
Websites in the UK often end in .co.uk, websites in Germany often end in .de, websites in the Netherlands often end in .nl. Additionally, international websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor use those various top-level domains, for example, Yelp.com, Yelp.co.uk and Yelp.de.
So the above isn’t all that interesting but what is interesting is that I’ve seen cases where a site’s data is aggregated differently based on the top-level domain. As an example, today I searched for “hotels in Istanbul, Turkey” on TripAdvisor.com and TripAdvisor.co.uk and the results, listed in rank order, differ between the sites.
Below is a screen grab of the top three rated hotels in Istanbul according to TripAdvisor.com (#1 Hotel Sultania, #2 Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul Sultanahmet, #3 Neorion Hotel).
Side note: I don’t know why the .com site has “Just for You” after the hotel rank number. Perhaps because I was physically in the US when I conducted my search?
Now you may be thinking, this is interesting but why do I care? You care for two reasons.
1) Different cultures have different expectations and standards when traveling. A hotel room described as being spacious is going to mean one thing to an American who has only stayed at hotels in the US where rooms are spacious and king beds are aplenty and it will mean an entirely different thing to a European who is accustomed to staying in shoebox-sized rooms in major European cities. A spacious hotel room to an American is 28 sq m / 300 sq ft and a spacious hotel room to a European is 11 sq m / 120 sq ft. Don’t quote me on those sizes but you get the point.
2) When looking at sites like the one above from outside of your home country, be sure to check the top-level domain because you may find that you have been redirected to that site’s top-level domain of the country you are physically residing in. If this happens and if you don’t notice the redirect, then you may be looking at results that are ranked by other cultures which may lead to a bad experience. For example, a hotel ranked on the UK site lands at #4 because of it’s spacious rooms and cleanliness and that same hotel ranked on the US site lands at #444 because of it’s small rooms, filth, and deafening traffic noise.
Or maybe the results are driven by marketing? Or maybe a combination of all of the above? Either way you slice the data, results can sometimes differ based on top-level domains.
Clear as mud?