Although a good host won’t make your rankings soar, a bad host can damage your chances for being at the Top-10 on results page. What is the connection between chosen hosting provider and SEO?
Speed and search engines
Quick and responsive websites are more likely to be ranked better than slow ones. First, low load time dramatically affects user experience. Secondly, Google and other search engines use speed as a ranking factor, so slow websites stand no chance. There are many online services that can show you how fast your site is (Google Webmaster Tools, Alexa, etc.).
Different things affect page loading. Oversized images and poorly coded CSS and HTML add up to loading speed, but wrongly chosen host can also spoil performance. Old servers and insufficient monitoring take their toll. Therefore you should prefer well-established companies with good reputation for speed.
Another important aspect is whether you use shared hosting or a dedicated server. Cheap shared hosting is notorious for slow speed, and your website will potentially be hosted in a server together with hundreds of other websites. Shared hosting servers are pretty popular and work normally for most minor websites. But if you have to handle a large amount of traffic, have resource-hungry web design, or just need to maximize speed, there are better variants.
Ordering a virtual private server (VPS) you still have to share space. But while with shared hosting greedy neighbors can steal all bandwidth leaving your website with no resources, on a VPS you are guaranteed certain amount of resources, so your website will have enough power. The most expensive and yet the most reliable solution is a dedicated server. It provides you with overall control over the server and a large amount of resources staying always reliable.
Speed won’t matter, if your website is down or inaccessible. Websites that are often unavailable can be seriously penalized from SEO standpoint, if the issue stays unfixed. Estimating exact uptime number is pretty hard for hosting companies, but you will rarely see a number under 99%. In fact, promised 99,99% can be true: prominent hosts have modern, reliable and properly maintained servers. However, even the best servers may go down accidentally. Read SLA and terms of service to know what to expect in case of downtime. Many companies have policies that protect website owners in case of unknown unknowns.
Anyway, you should keep tabs on website accessibility on your own. Many webmaster platforms have notifications popping up in case of accessibility problems. If the issue keeps arising frequently, don’t hesitate to contact your host and find out what causes them.
Does it matter who you share hosting service with?
Shared hosting is a contradictory hosting option that has been a hot issue for SEO experts for years. This service is an affordable way to establish your business presence in the Net. Bandwidth and storage space are shared among users, and in most cases you don’t have to know who your neighbors are.
Let’s look at shared hosting from two points of view.
On one hand, many people claim that questionable websites can affect your website reputation in search engines. Some web hosts are known to serve spammy users and even conscientious clients can go breaking bad. It’s like renting a room in apartment and revealing that your neighbor is a criminal: the value of property can suddenly diminish.
On the other hand, some claim that it doesn’t make any difference. Google has stated that the type of web hosting does not affect SEO, e.g. it is not considered to be a ranking factor. Virtually hosted domains and domain on unique IP addresses are treated equally. It’s unlikely that Google will change the policy in the nearest future. However, if you’re concerned with who your neighbors are, reverse IP lookup will show you who you share the server with. Specialists recommend signing up with a reliable ISP.
Do not rush to decide upon a web hosting company: the choice is so wide that you will definitely find a reliable and affordable host. But even if you have already locked into a detrimental partnership, it’s never late to look for a better one. The choice of host is important for SEO, website performance and overall business success.