5 Min Read
Yes – Web hosting does have the potential to positively or negatively affect your SEO rankings. It was just as true back in 2015, when we first touched on this topic, as it is today (perhaps now, more than ever). Not to mention a wealth of additional benefits that derive from a little pre-planning such as greater user-experience, increased conversion rates and a good reflection on your brand.
To further understand this statement, let’s throw out the jargon and think simplistically about what Google is trying to accomplish for you, the searcher. When you perform a search on Google, the first step that is taken by its algorithm is to call forth all websites within its database that make reference to your particular search phrase. Then, at a very top level, Google prioritises the websites that champion in the following signals:
Whilst there are plenty of additional factors at play, the point here is that Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant result for its client, in the fastest amount of time and with the greatest amount of support from other entities on the internet.
So where does hosting coming into play and why does web hosting affect SEO? Here are 4 compelling reasons to spend a little more time planning who you host your website with.
Search engines, absolutely love websites that exert lightning speeds. With decades of real-user data, Google identified many years ago that slower websites are not of interest to our growing haste and therefore prioritise those that serve up the goodies faster than McDonald’s. Slow, in general, is often a turn-off for humanity and this negative user experience is closely monitored by search engines when deciding who should be prioritised in the search results.
Whilst always considered, your websites bounce rate and on-page engagement signals are now increasingly important if you are looking for that extra bit of search engine optimisation success.
Therefore, it is crucial that you use a reputable hosting service from a company that is renowned for their speed. Cheaper hosting options, most notably shared web hosting servers, are prone to random spikes of sluggish speeds as you battle for resources with 100’s (perhaps 1000’s) of other websites. There’s only so much cake to go around and if your server is over-populated then Google will not enjoy your party.
To put the potential gains of this simple change into perspective, we increased the speed clients’ website by 4 seconds and monitored the performance over 3 months. Selling the same product – which historically performs better over Christmas – and without any additional marketing activities, these are the results our client yielded.
As you can see, when comparing 3 months of data in what is usually their busiest period, the latter 3 months far out-performed the Christmas period without any additional spend on marketing. Whilst we’re not saying that should also expect to achieve 50% growth, it’s a real-world indication of what is possible from a faster hosting server.
Would you want to be seen to be living in a neighbourhood full of drug addicts and criminals? No, of course not. So why is it acceptable for you to let Google think that your business is associated with potentially spammy websites?
When you opt for cheap hosting or a server that is not entirely your own, there is absolutely no guarantee that you won’t be sharing resources with any of the nastiness above. Remember, hosting companies are businesses vying for profit too. Therefore, if the bills are being paid on time, why would they waste resources in checking every single website on their servers to ensure fair play?
Imagine this scenario.
You’re a seller of baby goods and there are 3 other websites on the hosting stack (Remember, it’s more likely to be 100’s). One is a gambling website, the other a mortgage broker and the fourth, pornography. When Google crawls your website because somebody is searching for ‘baby goods’ and see’s that it shares the same IP address as the above, will you be sending strong signals of trust? – No.
By simply switching to your own VPS or dedicated server, you can eliminate any risk of being associated with the wrong crowd. Not to mention the additional benefits of advanced flexibility, greater loading speed and controllable settings that come with this change.
Along similar lines, shared web hosting may also leave you vulnerable to uncontrollable downtime. Today, your website could run as fast as Usain Bolt. Tomorrow, if your server is compromised by another, or there just simply isn’t enough cake to go around, say hello to a horrible 404 error, zero sales and a bad look for your business.
Website’s that are consistently up and down may see a decline in organic rankings if not resolved ASAP. Again, think about the image that a breaking website sends to Google. Why should it trust you as the number 1 listing if it cannot even guarantee that its client will be able to access your information whenever they need it?
Our top tips for ensuring accessibility are to ensure that you are on your own server and that your hosting company provides round the clock support. In addition, we would also recommend that you spend a little extra money and purchase daily incremental backups of your website. Just in case the worst happens!
If you are currently in Australia and are searching for something on Google, 99% of the time you will be presented with Australian websites. Similarly, there are thousands of searches each month for ‘something near me’ which couldn’t be a clearer indication that your web hosting location is crucial for local clientele.
Search engines determine your location based upon a few indicators, one of which is your website’s IP address. Your website’s IP address is assigned to your website based on the location of the server that it is being hosted on. Thus, if your company or business is situated in Australia and you are targeting local folk, hosting your website with a company that has servers in Australia should yield a higher search result for your website than a server in the US.
Note: Major hosting players such as GoDaddy are US based companies and shared web hosting services are often in the US.
In summary, a poor choice of website host will not only affect your SEO rankings but also the experience that you provide your customers. Whilst all small victories, the top tips above amount to a significant step in the right direction of both search-engine compliance and customers who will keep on returning. The one question we always keep in mind with any decision that we make is simple: ”Is this going to improve the experience for my customers?” By keeping this in mind, you can be sure that your decision is worthwhile.