From keywords to building backlinks and analyzing your competitors, there are many things you can work on to increase your website ranking. However, there might be one area you’re overlooking. Any idea what I’m talking about yet?
It’s the influence your web hosting has on SEO.
Whether you realize it or not, the web host you choose can make all the difference between getting your website ranking higher or being pretty much invisible online.
When you think about it, it’s obvious why.
The web host you go with impacts several areas of your website, including uptime and loading speeds.
If you are researching how to host a website, here are 7 things to look out for to help meet your SEO needs.
Why Web Hosting Is So Important For SEO
Your chosen web host plays a significant role in putting your website on the map and keeping it visible, and therefore, you need to pick your web host carefully.
Before I go too much further, let’s just see what Google says about how search works. It considers five factors:
As we’re talking about SEO and web hosting, I’ll focus on usability. For ranking, Google looks at:
- Loading times
- Mobile friendliness
- Country and location (so Google can serve location-based content)
Basically, the more accessible your content is, the more likely it is to rank better.
Google also considers page experience signals, like whether your site uses HTTPS.
Your webhost influences all of the above, which is why you need to choose carefully.
What To Look For When It Comes To Web Hosting And SEO
When it comes to web hosting and SEO, you should expect a few things from your provider as standard, such as uptime reliability and efficient loading times. However, as detailed in the next section, there are other features to look out for:
1. Uptime Reliability
For businesses, a few minutes of downtime can cost thousands of dollars in lost productivity. For your visitors, it’s frustrating if they can’t access your website or if it keeps crashing. However, downtime is equally damaging to your reputation among search engines.
The likes of Google regularly visit websites, and if your website is down a lot, your site gains a reputation for unreliability.
While no web host can guarantee to keep your site online 100 percent of the time, most hosts now provide 99.9 percent uptime. According to Search Engine Journal, 99 percent uptime equals approximately 1.44 minutes of downtime daily, or 8.8 hours a year. Pretty good, huh?
Ever heard the saying ‘speed is of the essence’? Your visitors agree with this, which is why you don’t want to keep them hanging around.
A slow website causes users to leave, increasing your bounce rate significantly, as the stat from Google’s research shows.
However, despite the importance of fast loading times, too many websites fail to make the grade.
According to research by Littledata, the average time it takes for a mobile page fully loads is 4.6 seconds. On the face of it, that sound pretty swift, but it won’t put you among the best-performing sites.
What should you be aiming for?
Littledata says if you want your site among the top twenty percent, then your loading time should be within 3.2 seconds. To appear in the top ten percent, your site should reach a full mobile page load within 2.6 seconds.
Not sure about your current speed? Here are some tools to check:
- Pagespeed Insights
That’s your speed covered, now let’s move on to the importance of customer service.
3. Customer Service
When choosing web hosting for SEO, there are some key areas of customer service to think about:
- The size of the company. Although it’s not always the case, a larger company is more likely to have better resources and staff available to help with customer service issues. They also have more money to invest in training their representatives.
- The company’s overall reputation. These days, you don’t need to look too far to view other people’s opinions. Find out what others say by looking at web hosting service reviews and use that as guidance for narrowing down your choices.
- Availability: is the company available 24 hours a day and seven days a week? Problems with hosting can occur at any time. You need to know that someone is available to take your call.
- Contact options: The easier it is to get in touch with a company, the better. Email and contact forms are great, but it can take time to get responses. Look for companies with a customer service contact number, social media accounts, and Live Chat for quicker responses.
Would you buy from a site you don’t trust? I doubt it. It’s also unlikely that you’d share your sensitive information if the site didn’t have an HTTPS certificate, but It’s not just about consumer trust.
Back in 2014, Google first named HTTPS as a ranking factor. As Google’s Search Advocate, John Mu, explains on Twitter, it’s only a lightweight ranking factor, and the lack of an HTTPS won’t stop your site from getting indexed.
However, as Mu explains, HTTPS is great for users, and Google’s research shows a considerable rise in web users relying on HTTPS. Here are some of the key stats:
- Desktop users load over half of the pages they view via HTTPS and spend two-thirds of their time on secure pages
- 98 percent of Chrome users load pages via HTTP
- While HTTPS is less common among mobile users, figures among these visitors are growing too
While you can install an SSL certificate yourself, the easiest way is to find a web host that provides a free or affordable certificate.
Some of the sites offering free SSL certificates include
- A2 Hosting
That’s HTTPS covered. What about server location and its impact on your SEO and web hosting?
5. Server Location
Does server location affect loading times? Absolutely.
In a YouTube clip, former Google Search Quality expert Matt Cutts said: ‘We try to return the most relevant results to each user in each country. And server location in terms of IP address is a factor in that’.
For example, if your server is in the United States, but most of your customers are in the United Kingdom, data transfer times are likely to be considerably delayed. However, changing the server location to the UK is likely to reduce response times and improve website loading speed.
The reason for this? Well, it comes down to two things: network latency or ‘ping’ (the time it takes for information to travel from one point in a network to another) and time to the first byte (the interval between the request being sent to the server and the browser receiving the first byte).
The server location also affects your bounce rate and legal compliance (you need to store any data per local laws)
To help find the best server locations for your site, follow these three tips:
- Go to Google Analytics and sign in. Next, choose ‘audience’, then ‘geo’, and ‘location’ to determine where your audience is based.
- Check latency times. You can use a free tool like the one at devicetests.com:
3. Check your Time For First Byte with a tool such as GeekFlare:
For both tests, the lower the number, the better.
If you notice delays, it may be worth looking around for the best cheap web hosting and transferring your website to another provider.
6. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is a popular option for small businesses, as it offers an affordable way to start a website, but it has some downsides.
The biggest issue for users can be website performance. As shared hosts typically have many users sharing the same server, performance can suffer compared to dedicated servers. This can result in slower page load times and decreased Site Speed Index scores (a page loading score metric).
Further, if you need to make any major changes or updates to your website, like adding new features or redesigning your entire site, then the customization options may be limited.
You may also find that your performance dips the more your traffic grows.
That said, shared hosting has plenty of positives, such as its ease of use and scalability,
7. CMS Quality
A content management system (CMS) is a software application or set of related programs used to create and manage digital content efficiently.
It aids your web hosting SEO by enabling content optimization and its integrated SEO plug-ins.
According to Zippia, there are over 80 CMS options to choose from, and 64.9 percent opt for WordPress.
The sheer number of available systems can make it difficult to choose, so look for the following three features to narrow down your options:
1. Ease of use: A CMS should be easy to use, even for beginners, and have a user-friendly interface and simple, straightforward controls.
2. Flexibility: Find a flexible CMS to accommodate your website’s specific needs. It should allow you to add or remove content easily, change layouts, and more.
3. Compatibility: Ensure the CMS is compatible with popular web browsers and devices. It should also work well with other software and plugins you may want to use
It depends on which host you’re using. If SEO isn’t already built-in, you can often add plug-ins to your CMS for optimization
It depends on the host. Some are better than others but remember, you get what you pay for, and web hosting costs shouldn’t be your only consideration. Free hosting sites may lack quality, advanced features, and built-in SEO.
Yes. The closer the server location is to your visitors, the quicker the speed.
Wix has some great SEO features, including a Google Search and Google Analytics integration, as well as a single template for SEO on multiple pages.
Additionally, Wix has an SEO Wiz. This is a step-by-step checklist that you’ll find on your site’s dashboard under ‘marketing home’. The checklist helps you to connect and verify your site with Google, enables efficient site indexing, and gives you SEO tips for improved visibility.
Hostinger, Bluehost, and SiteGround all score well among reviewers for SEO web hosting, but it all depends on what features you’re looking for.
You will most likely have a long-term relationship with the hosting service you choose, so you want to pick the right one.
With so many web hosts to choose from, finding the perfect host is often time consuming, and you might not always get it right the first time.
To simplify things, when looking for a provider for your SEO web hosting, ensure it offers uptime reliability, speed, and security.
Also, don’t overlook server location and the impact it can have on your SEO, and test customer service first by making a few queries.
What tips do you have for SEO and web hosting?