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Does hosting affect SEO? You are bound to ask this question when planning your first business website. Yes, which hosting service you choose has a significant impact on your site's ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages). However, it is about a lot more than just ranking. Let's explore further to see how it works.
Three major factors
Hosting determines the performance of your website. Different hosting services offer various features, some of which may differ from provider to provider. Some of the key aspects that will be affected by hosting include:
In the simplest terms, downtime refers to when your site goes down and becomes inaccessible due to factors such as maintenance or technical failure. Search engine spiders may crawl your website several times a day. If they detect extended or frequent downtime, it would adversely affect your ranking. Even a 1% downtime every day may amount to 7 hours over the course of a month.
Uptime, on the other hand, refers to the time when your site is up and running without disturbance. A number of factors can contribute to the uptime of a site, and the efficiency of the hosting is one of them. If not 100%, the best offer you need to look for is 99.9% uptime.
Speed not only affects a site's performance, but it also determines its ranking. Even though Google has not specified how it ranks websites, it is clear that the search engine considers load speed as one of the parameters. A site can be slow due to many factors, some of which are poor hosting and inefficient coding and development.
In the case of hosting, it is common for a website to be slower if it is hosting hundreds of other sites on a shared server. If you maintain a business website, and optimum performance is a crucial factor in your operation, it is best to opt for a dedicated server. Some reliable tools you can use to check your site loading speed are
In addition to downtime and speed, the location of the hosting server is also an important deciding factor in terms of SEO. For example, if your target audience is most American, you must choose a US based hosting. There are various indicators which search engines use to determine where your website is hosted, and the IP address is surely one of them.
Choosing an SEO-friendly hosting service
It is necessary for the website owners to choose an SEO-friendly hosting service as an important aspect of the marketing process. Here's a step by step approach that will point you in the right direction:
Define the basic needs. A single look at the hosting package and its features may give you a clear insight. However, if you are new to this and do not have any idea about what the specifics are, you must carry out research to identify your needs before making the final decision.
For the beginners, here is a simple list of basic web hosting terminology from the Vision Smash Media experts:
There are three types of hosting services:
Side by side comparison as below.
Virtual private server
How does it work?
You rent a single server to host your important website only, and do not share with anyone else.
A separate virtual server is rented.
You rent a sharing server which hosts many other websites too.
Full control of your server with the choice of OS, hardware specifications and so on.
Higher speed and more reliability along with massive bandwidth and high uptime.
Lesser cost than the other two options.
Shares the same IP with other sites which sits on the physical server.
Limited in space, features, and resources. Shares same IP with other unknown sites.
Some other common terms related to hosting include:
- Bandwidth – the amount of data transfer (download/upload) per month.
- Disk space – The storage available to you on the server.
- Operating system (OS) - Two standard hosting OS are Windows and Linux. Linux is significantly cheaper as open source.
- Control panel (C-panel) hosting - All the hosting service providers offer some sort of control panels for the users to add domains and custom configure the settings.
- IP address – It is a unique number which identifies your server location on the internet.
When thinking of web hosting as a fresher, it is also good if you know some marketing jargons too which many providers use to sell their SEO services to clients.
- Free website builder – Never take it as a criterion to shortlist your hosting service. You do not need this now as there are many flexible and user-friendly website development CMS platforms available such as WordPress.
- Search engine visibility – Many hosting providers still use this as an add-on feature they offer. Some even sell it as a paid add-on, when it is clear to everyone that any website on the web must be visible to the search engines. There is no extra effort from a hosting service provider needed for it.
Checking reviews and feedback about hosting services
Once you identify your exact needs and shortlist a few providers, spend some time to search for the customer reviews and feedback about each. With a lot of social media platforms and public discussion boards, it is much easier for anyone now to gather information about any services or products.
While considering user feedback about hosting services, the two key aspects to note are:
- Security issues – inadequately managed servers are vulnerable to hacker attacks, and your websites may get tagged as harmful to your computer. Check if the users frequently complain about this problem about a particular hosting service.
- Customer support – This is an essential aspect of any round-the-clock service like web hosting. Excellent review about customer support is the primary thing which defines an ideal service provider.
All in all, you should not take such an important decision in haste. If this is your first time buying hosting, make a well informed and knowledgeable decision. Do your homework well, understand your needs, and consider as many options as possible before choosing one.