Intro: There are many factors that impact SEO performance. Web hosting is a major one.
Search engine optimization is one of the pillars of digital marketing. Along with numerous other digital marketing techniques the likes of email marketing, social media management, search engine marketing, and more, SEO creates the foundation for online brand visibility, reputation, and awareness. But you probably know all of that already.
The reason you’re here is because you’re intrigued by the fact that your hosting plan can affect your ranking in the SERPs. And no, it’s not a load of SEO nerd speculation – web hosting can and will impact your SEO performance, so let’s go over some of the most important hosting factors and how they can affect your brand as a whole.
Here’s the not-so-secret relationship between web hosting and SEO.
1. Hosting is not for share
Before we completely bash on the idea of shared hosting for growth-oriented businesses, let’s give shared hosting a fair chance to prove itself. Firstly, shared hosting is affordable. This is why many new business owners or those operating on a tight budget tend to lean towards this option at first. Secondly, depending on the hosting provider you choose, you could actually enjoy some pretty decent customer support.
And that’s about it. On the other hand, choosing to run your website on a shared hosting platform can do a lot more harm than good.
First off, shared hosting is notoriously slow. You can expect your load times to increase because you are sharing server resources with many other sites, and therefore your CX and UX to drop as a result. What’s more, you can never really know who your server “neighbors” are. You might be sharing your hosting plan with one or several spammy websites that have terrible SEO scores, which will negatively affect your brand’s reputation in the eyes of search engines as well.
On the off chance that you do go for shared hosting despite of the downsides, be sure to choose a provider with a proven track record and minimal downtime, and check whom you’re sharing the platform with by entering your URL in the Reverse IP Domain Check. If there are any spammy sites, run like hell.
2. Site speed is crucial
It should go without saying that site speed is one of the most important elements of a thriving website, and not just from an SEO standpoint. Site speed is one of those nuanced ranking factors that helps Google prioritize search results based on a number of complementary factors – such as bounce rate, engagement, and customer experience. Needless to say, all of these factors will be influenced by your site’s loading time.
The faster your pages load, the happier the visitor. The happier the visitor, the more time they’ll spend perusing your site and engaging with it, which sends a clear signal to the search engines that you have something truly valuable to offer.
Sadly, though, many business leaders prioritize website design without even thinking about the fact that it might be their hosting plan that’s slowing it down. What you end up getting is a beautiful website that takes ages to load (that’s more than two seconds) and thus drives people right into the warm embrace of your fast-loading competitor sites. That’s no way to grow a business, so make sure to complement site design and optimization with a performance-hosting plan.
3. Dominate local search with local hosting
With the dawn of the digital age and the way technology is progressing with each passing year, you would think that server location doesn’t matter. Oh, but it does. So much. The location of your servers, or where your website is stored, can have a significant impact on user experience overall. If, say, your website is on a server somewhere in Canada, and you’re operating in Australia, you can bet that the overall user experience is going to be less than optimal.
Aside from positioning your site on a server that’s close to your target audience, it’s also important to target your preferred audiences if you have an international brand or a top-level domain (TLD). This allows the search engines to position your site in the relevant local search results – a method that’s taken off in highly competitive regions such as Australia by brands that need a competitive edge.
To set their geographic targets on the go and as their business grow, business leaders will manage their sites through intuitive cPanel web hosting Australia that allows them to target specific markets easily without having to go through cumbersome back-and-forward communiques with their hosting provider. These types of solutions can help your site appear in all relevant search results, load faster, and thus improve user experience across the board. In turn, Google will be able to rank you higher in the local SERPs.
4. The importance of website security
Another important factor every business leader should consider is website security. Without a doubt, the security of your website will greatly determine its SEO score. Because how is Google supposed to rank you high in the SERPs if sensitive customer information is disappearing from your website? In fact, if a breach in your firewall does occur, you can just turn the lights off because your company is pretty much done. Remember, it only takes a single successful cyber attack to ruin a brand’s reputation.
This is why Google emphasizes and prioritizes websites that boast “industry-leading” security measures such as a strong HTTPS encryption. Yes, the level of website security is a valuable ranking factor for Google, and the search engine will prioritize sites that have high-level data encryption. Because a safe customer is a happy customer – and that makes Google happy by extension. To make your site as safe as possible, you will need to find a hosting provider that offers software and hardware firewalls as well.
5. Minimize downtime as much as possible
Nowadays, almost every hosting provider guarantees 99.98% uptime. They have to, because nobody in their right mind would buy a spot on a server only to have their site crash unexpectedly. Downtime is the killer of brands (dramatic, yes), and the more your site stays offline, the higher the chances that Google will remove you from the relevant search results. Because a site that doesn’t load is not all that relevant anymore.
Sometimes, it’s a bug in the code, but most of the time, it’s your hosting plan that’s at fault. Whether you’ve exceeded the bandwidth limit, or if there’s something wrong with the servers, any amount of downtime could jeopardize your brand’s reputation in the eyes of your audience. Choose a hosting plan with a proven track record of zero downtime issues, and you will stay on Google’s good side.
6. Research and choose your domain carefully
And finally, when you’re researching hosting providers for your site, be sure to pay special attention to the domains they offer or emphasize in their packages. Don’t settle for any domain just because you’re able to use the full name of your business, because Google does rank domains differently based on the keywords you use, and the phrases people search for.
Say, for example, you want to use your brand’s full name with a “.com” domain extension. Naturally, you can expect that domain to be taken, so you settle for any extension that allows you to use your name. Guess which brand will receive more hits? Yes, the one with the TLD (top-level domain). With that in mind, it’s important to choose your domains carefully, and research how different domains rank, how people search for them, and whether or not a certain domain will do your brand more harm than good in terms of SEO.
Web hosting and SEO are very much connected, so before you spring for the first hosting provider that pops up, you’ll need to do your research and find the right web host your company’s current needs, as well as your long-term goals. As for SEO performance, the right web hosting plan will have an impact on your ranking in the SERPs, and give you the flexibility and control you need to optimize your site for higher visibility and brand awareness.
But what do you have to say about all of this? Surely, there is an SEO expert among you with a few interesting thoughts on today’s topic? Be sure to drop a line or two below.
Bily Bum is an electrical engineer, tech, and gaming fan with 15 years of experience in the technology world. He is also a contributor on site Technivorz.