Search Engine Optimisation or SEO has been around for as long as search engines have, and getting to grips with how to improve your SEO performance is one of the best inbound marketing methods you can use. Not only will improving your SEO performance help bring in new customers and visitors to your website, but it will also help you get recognised when people search for terms relevant to your website. There are many different factors which affect your SEO performance, many of which Google doesn’t make obvious – hence why there are so many SEO professionals that have thoroughly researched the most effective methods. One of the areas that many people might not be aware of, however, is how much your web hosting provider will affect your website’s SEO performance.
In this article we will explain the top 9 ways your web hosting provider will affect your SEO performance in 2019.
Having your website offline, also called downtime, is one of the biggest reasons that your web hosting provider might be affecting your SEO performance. If your web hosting provider has a poor network infrastructure, faulty hardware, or other problems in their data centre, then you might find that your website is often going offline. Not only does this give a bad impression to your website visitors, it also severely affects your search engine rankings. Google recognizes downtime as an indication of an unreliable website, and will even remove your website from the search results pages if your website is offline for a few days! Significant downtime, in general, will negatively affect your search engine rankings.
Page Load Time
Perhaps the second most significant SEO factor which your web hosting provider might be responsible for is slow page load time. While it’s very true that a poorly configured or poorly optimised website with large images, redundant scripts, and third-party elements will often run slowly – often the case is that your web hosting provider simply has a slow network service. You should definitely make sure to optimise your website for speed, which you can check with Google’s page speed tool; however, you should also make sure to choose a fast, reliable web hosting provider to avoid affecting your SEO rankings.
Database Connection Failures
Another common SEO area which web hosting providers might be responsible for is database connection failures on your website. This is typically indicated by an ‘Internal Server Error’ message when visitors see your website, although this message can differ depending on the issue. There’s a variety of reasons that this might occur, with the most common reasons being too many active connections to the website database or a broken database. This can also be the result of an issue with the configuration of your web host’s servers though, and this is another factor which will negatively impact the performance of your search engine optimisation.
Your Server’s Geographical Location
While this also feeds into the page speed of your website, it’s important to consider using a web hosting provider with physical servers that are geographically close to your website visitors. For example, if your web hosting provider is based in the UK, your British website visitors will always be able to load your website faster than if you were using a US-based hosting provider. While this isn’t considered to be a major factor in SEO rankings, it’s still worth considering.
Sharing IP Addresses
Google tracks and monitors the IP address that your website is being served from on your web hosting provider’s server. What this means is that the IP address your website is coming from will have a certain reputation based on the activity coming from that IP address. This means that if you’re sharing an IP address with other people, for example in a shared hosting environment, your website’s rankings will be affected by what other people do from that IP address. So if customers send lots of spam emails from that IP address it will negatively affect your search engine rankings. For this reason, it’s best to have a dedicated IP address or go with something other than shared hosting.
The impact of server security on your website’s SEO performance feeds back into previous points, as poor security can result in downtime and slow page speed. If your web hosting provider has ineffective security measures on their servers then you can face a whole range of problems – from hacked accounts to compromised emails, to even losing all of your website data! Any of these factors can have a negative impact on your SEO performance, so you should make sure your hosting provider has their servers secure and locked down with sufficient security measures.
Having an SSL Certificate
In recent years Google has started penalising websites that don’t load over HTTPS with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. An SSL certificate encrypts data being transferred between the client and the website, meaning hackers can’t intercept traffic. As a general rule you should have an SSL certificate on your website anyway as a basic security measure, but if your website is loading unsecured over an HTTP connection then your SEO rankings will be heavily penalised.
Spam protection is another somewhat indirect factor which might affect your website’s SEO performance and is also linked to the reputation of the IP address which your website is on. If you don’t have an adequate spam protection system in place, you may find that your email accounts are being compromised and being used to send lots of spam emails. If this occurs then your mail server will be recognized by Google as being used for spamming, and as such can cause the mail server to be blacklisted by certain ISPs (Internet Service Providers). If your website is hosted on the same IP address as this, your website will be penalised and will fall off the search engine results pages.
Your Domain Name
While the effect your domain name has on your SEO performance isn’t immediately obvious, it certainly can have a negative effect if done wrong. If for example you have a country specific domain name extension like .co.uk, but you’re hosting a website in Chinese, then you’ll find that your website will perform worse than one with a .cn domain extension. Google also prioritises search engine results based on your location, so if you want your visitors to see your website when they search it in the same country as you, you should use a country specific top level domain name.