There are many factors to take into account when choosing a web hosting company. One issue that can be a challenge for businesses is the relationship between web hosting location and SEO. What type of hosting is best for SEO? Does it matter where your website is hosted?
The answer is complex. On the one hand, the location of your web hosting service can have an impact on your website’s SEO rankings, but not in the way you might expect…
Server locations generally make the biggest impacts to website speed and optimisation for local customers. How much this will affect your business will depend on a variety of factors, including the geographical location of the intended audiences for your website.
To understand it fully, we first need to be clear on what exactly is meant by the term web hosting.
What is a web host?
A web host provides the services and infrastructure to put your website out onto the internet. Your website will be held on a server. When a customer clicks on your website, it will be retrieved from the server to be sent to their computer. Web hosts also provide domain names for your website.
The web host’s servers can impact on the accessibility of your website, and it’s here that web hosting location affects SEO.
Does hosting location affect SEO?
There are many misconceptions about the relationship between web hosting location and SEO. Broadly speaking, there are several ways SEO can be impacted by the location of a web host.
Some websites load within seconds, others at a crawl. You might wonder what causes this. A variety of factors are involved, but one of the main ones is the location of the server. If a visitor to your website is local to the web host’s datacenter, the website will load more quickly for them. If the site visitor lives in a completely different country to the datacenter, it will load at a considerably slower rate.
This will have an impact on your SEO rankings in two ways. One the one hand, it will negatively impact user experience. One study by Google showed that 53% of mobile users will leave websites that take over 3 seconds to load. This weakens the likelihood of making sales to online visitors. User experience is heavily underestimated in its impact on SEO.
On the more immediate level, the slower and less accessible a website is, the lower it will rank in search results. So a slow website has a huge impact on SEO, and this can be caused by the viewer’s distance to the web host location.
Search engine rankings
IP addresses can make an impact on search engine rankings. If your domain name ends in .co.uk, this won’t be an issue for you, as the search engine automatically identifies that the audience is likely to be UK based.
However, if you’re using a .com address, the engine may find it harder to differentiate which country your content is intended for, and as a consequence you may find your rankings drop, or rise in localities that you don’t wish to advertise to.
You can change this to your target country within your webmaster tools, for example, in Google’s Search Console. Google generally tries not to base the ranking off of server location alone, but incorporates links and location details from the website, so server location should not be considered the only factor.
You can also use CDN servers, which store cached versions of your website at different servers across the globe, making the website accessible at faster speeds across many different locations by closing the distance between user and server.
If you’re aiming for a particular locality, local servers can also be very useful for honing speeds in your target location, thus raising you in search engine rankings.
What is SEO Web Hosting?
Some companies offer SEO hosting, which tailors web hosting specifically for the purposes of building SEO traffic. This is particularly useful for companies with multiple websites that need to interlink to each other. IP addresses stored in a server generally share the same Class C IP, which means they are part of the same ‘C-Block’. This can mean only the first link of the interlinked websites in the C-Block will be recognised in the rankings. SEO hosts separate C-Blocks, meaning each individual site will be independently ranked.
In some cases, if an IP address is recognised as problematic, all other IPs in the C-Block will also be impacted in the search engine. As SEO hosts store IP addresses on unique C-Blocks, this means that your website won’t be impacted by the blacklisting of other sites.
Although search engines are improving their algorithms to determine the locations of website audiences, this is still not exact, so having a local server can be very beneficial to your search rankings.
What hosting is best for SEO?
If your website is very large and contains a lot of data, it is well worth buying a dedicated server for your website. Rackmount servers are the best option, offering flexibility and stability for small businesses to enterprises. It also means you can host yourself from a local location, maximising speeds and search ranking optimisation for a local business.
Utilising a local SEO agency can also help to boost your rankings. They can utilise SEO techniques and technology to help you get seen in local search results. They use keyword, PPC and content strategies to help develop your SEO rankings organically, such as Tillison Consulting who focus their strategy for SEO Hampshire.
In terms of speed and optimisation for local customers, server location can make a big difference to your search engine rankings. There are a variety of services in place to improve the issue between web hosting location and SEO, including designated servers, local SEO agencies and CDN servers.
Before choosing your web host, consider who your intended market is. Are you aiming your services towards a worldwide or a specific local audience? This will be an important consideration before deciding how to tackle the issue of improving search engine rankings.