Does Your Web Host Location Matter for Google & SEO?
For many, your online website is the storefront for your business. In these always-online times, businesses have come to rely more on the internet to bring in new customers and grow.
In order to bring customers to your website however, your website needs to be found by people easily. You’ll already know through personal experience that search engines are how people find websites nowadays. The key to getting your website seen by more people, and getting higher in the search results, is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.
There are many factors that Google considers when determining a website’s position in the search rankings – far too many to list here! Some of them are obvious, for example how quickly a website loads will impact the search rankings. Some factors however, are not as obvious.
One of these factors that’s often overlooked is your server location, or where your hosting provider houses their servers. In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at how your web host’s location affects your website’s SEO performance.
What is server location?
Server location is the geographical location of the data centre where your website is hosted. There are thousands of data centres across the world, and usually your hosting provider will utilise a data centre in one location to hold a number of servers. The location of this data centre isn’t related to where you yourself are located – it can be anywhere in the world.
Let’s take our own data centre as an example. Our data centre is located in Maidenhead, United Kingdom. We’ve chosen this location as it’s geographically close to where our customers are typically based – meaning it’s quicker to access our services for UK customers, than if our data centre was based abroad.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to use a data centre based near you. In fact, many hosting providers operate in the US while their customer base is located in the UK. You can utilise a data centre located anywhere, and this is very common for areas that may not have the capabilities to maintain a good data centre.
Using a data centre that’s located very far away from you can cause you some significant problems however. Let’s take a look at exactly what problems you may be faced with, in this type of situation.
Does server location have an impact on my website’s speed?
Every time you access your website, the data is being transferred from the server in the data centre, across the internet, finally reaching your device. Now it’s easy to forget about this whole process, as we’re all used to accessing everything instantly. But when considering website speed, it’s important to take into account the geographical location of the data centre being used.
In short, the answer to the question is yes – your server’s location does indeed have an impact on your website’s speed. When you take into account the process of loading a web page, it becomes easy to see why this is the case.
Let’s put this into an example for the sake of clarity. Say your website is being hosted on a server in the USA, but you’re accessing the website from the United Kingdom. You’ll almost always find that the website will take slightly longer to load, compared to a website on a server in the UK. In short, the further away you are geographically from the data centre, the longer your device will take to fetch the website data.
Being closer to the data centre means that the data from the server can be fetched more quickly, as it doesn’t have a far distance to travel over the internet. The inverse can be said for situations when you’re located far away from the data centre.
Will server location impact my website’s SEO?
The impact of server location on your website’s SEO is not immediately as clear. We can, however, reach a few conclusions about this.
As you may be aware, Google’s algorithm takes into account many different factors when determining a website’s position in the search rankings. One of the biggest contributing factors is the load speed of your website.
A slow website negatively affects user experience – users are much more likely to leave the page quickly, and not follow through to your other website pages. Google recognises this and their algorithm reflects this as a result.
Now think back to our earlier example of hosting your website abroad but having your customers based primarily in the United Kingdom. If your users are loading your website from a location geographically far away from them, then this means that there’s a chance the website will take longer to load for them. This in turn shows Google that your website is loading slowly for your users.
In recent years however, the introduction of Content Delivery Networks has helped to mitigate slow website load times. Let’s look at how this works.
How can a Content Delivery Network (CDN) help speed up your website?
A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, is a network of interconnected servers that store cached web content that is then used to serve this web content to website visitors. These CDN servers are typically spread throughout the world, in order to provide the best coverage possible.
CDNs can significantly help to speed up your website by allowing your browser to load the website from a server located geographically closer to you. So instead of loading a website from a data centre based in the USA, a CDN might allow you to load the same website from content cached on a server based close to you.
This in turn means that your SEO ranking won’t be affected by where your servers are based, since your website content is being served from different CDN points across the world. With website speed being so crucial to SEO performance, it’s easy to see why CDNs have become so popular.
The most important factor that will affect your website’s SEO is website speed. If your website loads slowly, it will perform poorly in the search rankings – it’s as simple as that.
Hosting on a server geographically close to your customers is a great idea if you can do this. If not, a CDN can help you mitigate any speed issues and therefore help your SEO performance.
At UKHost4u, we host all of our servers in the UK to provide the best service possible to our customers. Our wide range of products allow you to host your website easily, no matter how big your business is.