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The question of SEO might pop up into your mind as you’re searching for the right web host for you… and rightly so.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a key factor in how well your website performs online. The right SEO strategy can play an integral role in scaling and expanding your business online. Yet, even after countless hours spent curating top quality content, optimizing your pages, scoring awesome backlinks and promoting your site, a rotten web host could destroy your site’s chances at performing well in search results.
So, is it true? Does web hosting affect your SEO? The answer is “Yes”. Your website's SEO can be affected by your web host service. But the question should really be "how does a web host affect SEO and how can I stop it?"
While it’s true that bad hosts can, quite literally, kill your SEO, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a great host will boost your website’s search engine performance, either.
It all comes down to three key points when determining how much your web host impacts SEO.
Yes. Of course, your website uptime will affect SEO rankings. If your site is down, why would Google or any other search engine for that matter want to rank your website high on its search results?? Popular sites are lucky enough to have that fancy Google spider crawl it’s posts and pages several times each week, or even daily. If your site is down and Google can’t crawl your pages, it’s likely that your rankings will suffer. Search engines want to display results that are incredibly reliable, that their users can click through and access the content they seek quickly and easily. If your site is constantly underperforming due to unexpected outages, chances are high your SEO will suffer. The main takeaway here is that sites with no downtime, or very minimal downtime, will reap the benefits in search results later.
What do you do when you click on a search result in Google and the page takes an incredibly long time to load? If you’re anything like me, you bail. What’s the point in waiting for that page to load if there are plenty of other sites out there with equally valuable information for you to peruse? That’s exactly the thought process of Google. Google, and other search engines, take into consideration the speed of your site when ranking you. Yes, the weight they put on slow speed isn’t terribly heavy, but it’s still a factor. When you’re trying to gain and retain market share, everything counts, even the smallest SEO percentage points. High website speed can translate nicely to high organic rankings. So, if your web host causes your website to load painfully slow, your rankings in Google could drop.
If you’re targeting a specific audience in a particular location in the world, it’s a good idea for your server to be located where your target audience is. Google looks at your IP address (based on your web host’s server) to determine where you are in the world. Where your server is located, wherever that is, can determine where Google ranks you for the general search results and especially for local search results. Arbitrarily choosing a web host without considering its server location could hurt you. So do your homework on that one, as always.
Website builders aren’t typically recommended. To clarify, this doesn’t mean drag and drop website builders on reputable Content Management Systems (like WordPress) should suddenly be out of question. By “website builders” we mean things like GoDaddy website builder, or other, built in cheap solutions that web hosts try to sell naïve purchasers on. Stray away from website builders, which could not only damage your SEO but also limit your website’s scalability and functionality and portability (should the time come that you’d like to move your site to another platform). Best to avoid them.
Despite Google releasing a statement in 2003 about this very topic exactly, people still seem to be concerned that their IP address on shared servers could hurt their SEO rankings. Having a unique IP address won’t factor into your SEO rankings. While you may have plenty of reasons to benefit from moving over to a dedicated IP address, your SEO rank shouldn’t be one of them. According to Google, “Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. If your ISP does virtual hosting correctly, you’ll never see a difference between the two cases.”
So, there you have it, a unique IP address isn’t necessary when it comes to bettering your SEO.
So, SEO is important and web hosting is important. But how much weight should you put on SEO Web host shopping?
A little, but not too much.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while SEO Web Host shopping to avoid as much SEO damage as possible.
1. Make sure the uptime stats are high. By high, we mean something like 99.9% or higher. No web host company is going to be able to guarantee 100% uptime. While some companies make an elevator pitch on their 100% guarantees, you’ll find out within their fine print that this just isn’t possible. That said, there are plenty of shared SEO web hosting options for you to look into and purchase that have great uptime stats and will ensure your website maintains high availability.
2. Read customer reviews on how speedy websites operate on your potential web host. There are many factors that affect website speed, so always keep that in mind. If a website has a lot of extra code, or is dense in imagery and other media, speed could take a hit. But reviewing customer feedback will still give you the best information you need when it comes to ensuring your website won’t suffer from slow loading.
3. Run a quick Google search on where the web host has their servers. If location is important to your business and, in turn, your website, ensuring you have a cozy spot on a server near your target audience is important. While location is not mission critical for SEO purposes, every little bit helps.