Design, quality and frequency are the three factors you’ll hear about most when reading up on SEO. If you’ve run your own website for long enough, you’ll be well versed in the idea that producing high quality, share-able content on a regular basis will improve your ranking in search engine results.
There is another hidden factor, however, that has nothing to do with what is on your website, but can still greatly impact its position in search engine results: your web hosting. You can tick the content, quality and design-related SEO boxes, but if your web hosting isn’t up to scratch, your ranking will still suffer!
This article looks at how your web hosting issues can affect your search engine ranking, and what you can do to resolve or avoid these problems in the future.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization“. It’s a series of technique or best practices website owners can engage to improve their website’s position in search engine results. These practices include updating your site frequently, producing quality content that visitors share, and focusing on search terms that people might use when looking for the information on your site. For example, if you run a website about growing garden vegetables, you might include keywords like “home vegetable garden” and “winter garden vegetables” on your site.
Over time, these practices should boost the ranking of your website within search engine results, bringing it closer to the coveted number one spot. SEO is important because the higher your website appears in search engine results, the more likely you are to receive more visitors!
How does web hosting affect SEO?
Both the type of web hosting package you purchase and the company you choose to host your site can affect your website’s search engine ranking. The three most common issues that can affect your website are below, however this isn’t an exhaustive list. As a general rule, if an aspect of your web hosting negatively affects the performance of your website, it could negatively affect your site’s SEO too.
A website hosted on the same server is marked as spam
While it might save you money, shared hosting comes with its own perils. When you sign up to shared hosting, you share the hosting server with many other websites. This means you also share an IP address with them. If your site ends up sharing a server with a website that exists only to generate links or advertising revenue by spamming visitors, search engines could blacklist the server IP as spam, negatively impacting your website’s ranking in search results.
Your host suffers a lot of downtime
“Downtime” describes time when your website isn’t available to visitors. This could be because of scheduled server maintenance, an error, or another issue. During downtime, however, you’re missing out on valuable visitor numbers. Search engines take downtime into account when ranking pages, so if your website is frequently unavailable to its bots due to downtime, this will soon start to affect your SEO.
Slow server speeds
Search engines such as Google.com also measure the loading speed of your page. They aim to provide users with high performing, top quality websites in their results, so if your website takes a long time to load because of slow web hosting server speeds, your ranking will drop!
How you can protect your SEO ranking?
If you want to avoid or remedy web host-related SEO issues, you can take several steps to protect your site’s ranking. This might involve changing web hosts, however you will reap the benefits in the long term.
Let’s discuss some of the steps which you can take.
Look for a host with a good reputation
All web hosts will promote the quality and reliability of their services, however in reality their service might not match up to their claims. The easiest way to look for a host with a good reputation is to search for reviews and previous customers testimonials.
Look for a host with excellent uptime
This should be as close to 100% as possible, and ideally no less than 99.7%. Lower uptime percentages might not sound like a lot, however even an uptime rate of 99.7% means your website will be down for the equivalent of an entire day over the course of a year!
Choose a hosting package with a dedicated IP
Hosting packages with a dedicated IP or, even better, a dedicated server usually costs more than opting for shared hosting. Paying the extra, however, gives you peace of mind that your SEO won’t be affected by other websites on your server. Remember, shared servers are more likely to experience problems and downtime than dedicated servers!
Choose a web host with good server speeds
If you’re currently using a cheap hosting package, check whether your host offers alternative packages with higher server speeds. Search engines tend to penalize sites that have loading times longer than 6 seconds, so try to find a server that offers fast server speeds and an accelerated cache feature.
If possible, host your website with a company in the same location as your target audience
Although not a priority compared to features like uptime and server speed, the location of a potential hosting company is also important to consider. Your website is attached to an IP, which is traceable to an individual location. Search engines will assume by default that your site caters for visitors from that country, and will adjust their results accordingly. Therefore, it can be helpful to find hosting that is in the same country as your key audience.
It can be difficult to tell whether your web host is affecting your SEO at first. Even if you’re not sure, however, addressing the issues above will improve visitors’ experience of your website, making it more likely they will return and improving your site’s reputation.
Having reviewed many web hosting companies, I have created a list of recommended companies that offer a high quality service at good value.
My favorite is Bluehost, and I have partnered with them to offer my readers a special discount which you can not get anywhere else. If you’re looking for a good quality host that will help rather than hinder your SEO, click here to check out more on Bluehost now!