The ever-changing nature of Google’s search algorithms can make the SEO world a hectic place. This uncertainty can make understanding the factors that affect a sites search engine optimization extremely frustrating. Most site owners know the basics. They understand that things like keyword research and implementation, link building, and site authority play a huge role in search ranking.
While all of the above factors are crucial to a successful SEO strategy, many website owners forget about web hosting. The relationship between web hosting and SEO is often an afterthought. When choosing a host, many site owners primarily consider cost.
While web hosting costs should fit within certain budget parameters, making hosting decisions on price alone can be detrimental to SEO efforts. As most sites exist to attract visitors and convert them into customers, it would make sense to value SEO over pricing when considering hosting options.
You should consider a few things before drastically choosing the cheapest hosting option. Web hosting and SEO are closely linked and, as with most things in life, you will get what you pay for. There are a number of SEO-related benefits linked to quality hosting that you may not be getting. There are a few main ways that hosting can influence your SEO:
- Page Load Speed
- Host Server Reliability
- Host Server Location
Here’s how each of these factors should play a role in choosing a web host.
Web Hosting and SEO Factor – Speed
The speed of your website is a major factor that can help or hinder your site’s search engine result rankings. No one likes to sit and stare at a blank computer screen while a slow website takes ages to load. A slow website typically increases your site’s bounce rate while decreasing average visit time.
A site that loads quickly and moves easily from page to page provides an improved user experience. An improved user experience is one of the key factors in increasing site visit time and driving down your site’s bounce rate. Not only will your visitors be happier, so will Google. The algorithms highly value site speed because Google values great user experiences.
Having a quality web host is one of the biggest factors affecting page speed. A few other factors can slow down your site’s loading speed. Things like sloppy code and large plug-ins can slow down loading times. Once you’ve ensured these factors are not at play, you need to look at your site host.
Site owners that immediately go for the cheapest hosting option are typically jumping into lower-quality shared hosting plans. This can result in other sites on the plan consuming a large chunk of shared memory and processing power from your host. Upgrading to dedicated resources, like a dedicated server, can eliminate this issue and improve page speed drastically.
Web Hosting and SEO Factor – Reliability
It doesn’t matter how fast your site is or how much you focus on delivering valuable content or perfecting your site for SEO; you’ll have big problems if your site is constantly down. There are times when your coding can contribute to your site being inaccessible, but site downtime is more often than not a site hosting issue.
Google’s web crawlers can visit your site multiple times a day. If your site is down when these search bots come for a visit, your site is likely to be marked as unreliable.
You’ll want to do your research to find a site host that has a solid record for uptime. Most quality hosting companies will have well-maintained and reliable servers. Be mindful, though; the average uptown/downtime can change from month to month.
It can be tempting to take the cost savings offered by extended length plans, but you may want to avoid long-term hosting contracts. If you notice that your site host is starting to drop the ball in terms of uptime, you can move your business elsewhere.
Web Hosting and SEO Factor – Location
The physical location of your host server can play a critical role in search engine ranking results for a couple of reasons. Many SEO professionals argue that the given location of your host server can make it easier or more difficult to rank in certain areas.
For instance, if your server has a U.S.-based IP address, it may be a bit harder for you to rank your page in foreign markets against equal sites. Many argue that Google prefers to link searchers to native businesses as opposed to online business from halfway across the world.
The effects of this geo-positioning may be minor, but it’s still worth consideration if you’re going after foreign audiences.
The server location can also have an impact on site speed. Your site could experience decreased page load speeds if your host server is far removed geographically from the vast majority of your typical visitor. Server response times are faster the closer your users are to the host server’s physical location.
Web Hosting and SEO Factor – Security
Website security is paramount to not only the SEO efforts of your site but also its credibility with your users. Google values site security and will bump pages down for security infractions. This means that having your site hosted on a less-than-reputable server that is constant falling prey to malware attacks can hurt your search rankings.
Not only will web host security issues affect your search rankings, it will also hurt your reputation with visitors and customers. When visitors and customers start to get wind that your site is no longer safe, they’ll abandon ship, and you’ll lose all of the authority you’ve worked so hard to build.
You can go to exhaustive lengths to improve the security of your website and still remain vulnerable. Your web hosting company can largely affect how secure your website is. If you’re a part of a shared hosting plan, other pages can hinder your security efforts.
When you share hosting with other sites that have weaknesses in their security protocol, you too can be vulnerable to hackers that gain access to your server.