- Web hosting factors that directly and indirectly affect SEO
- Problems with Shared Hosting
- Web hosting factors that have minimal impact on SEO performance
Digital adoption has accelerated over the past year, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced several businesses to fast-track their digital transformation to survive.
Research shows that the internet is one of the most effective ways to market your business in 2021, which is expected to continue in 2022.
Given that fact, it’s no wonder that so many people emphasise the importance of having a website. However, the evolution of the online marketplace has also led to increased competition, with hundreds of organisations eager to see their websites appear in the top results for Google searches.
The first page of search engine result pages (SERPs) is essentially the holy grail for marketers, with the first organic search results in Google accounting for 28.5% of clicks. After that, the average clickthrough rate drops to 15.7% for the second listed result and an abysmal 2.5% for the tenth listing.
You can imagine the number decreasing significantly for the next set of pages.
To even stand a chance of ranking on the first page of Google, marketers need to have an effective search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.
Website owners spend significant amounts of time and money on SEO work to help boost their page rankings. The main four components of SEO are:
- On-page optimisation
- Off-page optimisation
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
Investing in each of these factors will help your website operate smoothly by making it easier for crawlers to process, understand and index your web pages, which will boost your search rankings.
Another factor that facilitates smooth website operation is an excellent web hosting service.
However, as web hosting is a vast niche, there are many misconceptions about it circulating the web, including claims about how web hosting can negatively affect your SEO.
Does web hosting affect a website’s SEO? The answer is yes.
Hence the importance of understanding how factors relating to web hosting can impact your website’s SEO.
Web Hosting Factors That Can Impact SEO
Owning a website comes with risks and complications. Like so many aspects of SEO, too much of anything can have a negative impact.
The same goes for web hosting.
Here are several web hosting factors that could impact your website’s SEO and damage your performance in SERPs.
#1 – Page Speed
Page speed – which refers to the time it takes a website or web page to load – is a direct ranking factor.
Although it may not significantly impact your SEO compared to content, page speed can also indirectly affect rankings as slow loading times will cause high bounce rates and reduced dwell time. You can check your page speed with Soar Online’s handy website checker tool.
If you’re sharing a server with millions of other websites, you’ll likely find that your website is slow to load. Spend a decent amount of time researching hosting options, and if you choose to go with a small web host, ensure they have the bandwidth you need; else, your speed could be affected.
If you’re a news website, choosing a web hosting provider with limited bandwidth would be counterproductive as they will probably struggle to support breaking news traffic.
Find a web host that will optimise your website’s performance. Determine your website’s needs, which will help you decide whether to opt for:
- Shared hosting
- Virtual private server
- Dedicated server
- Cloud-based scalable server
Although web hosts offering services for less than $5 might be tempting, a cheap company will likely result in slow loading times for visitors.
Slow sites are penalised by search engines and negatively affect user experience (UX), directly and indirectly impacting search performance. According to Google, page speed is a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile, with two seconds being the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.
Furthermore, faster landing pages deliver a better return on investment (ROI) by improving UX.
Good web hosts should have a comprehensive network infrastructure and host an appropriate number of sites on a single server to ensure web pages load fast. Besides this, you will also need to prevent slow page loading times by optimising content and images on the page, removing redundant scripts and inactive third-party widgets.
#2 – Database connection failures
Have you ever come across an “Internal Server Error” or “Database Connection Failed” message when visiting a website?
If you have, this message essentially informs you that the site is struggling to access the files needed to display the content on the page. While it could be a configuration error, it could also be caused by the number of visitors trying to access the database at one time.
For example, this message might be displayed when a limited edition product is released, or a video has gone viral on social media.
A good host would have safeguards to ensure the server doesn’t become strained by an influx of visitors. These safeguards would cache files on alternative servers and offload popular pages to reduce the number of connections to the database.
Business owners might want to consider upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server to improve website reliability and durability.
Private server hosting offers users increased control, easy scalability and are more cost-effective than dedicated servers. As your website is allocated a set share of a web server’s resources, even if another website in the server experiences a spike in traffic, your website will be unaffected.
Alternatively, choose a dedicated server if you don’t want to share a host with any other website.
#3 – Hosting Restrictions and Limits
Every shared web host has resource limitations; even if they state they offer unlimited storage, it’ll almost always restrict the number of inodes you can use.
Some web owners have even reported restricted access to critical files and limits on the number of redirects, which in theory, should be unlimited.
While this may not directly affect SEO, it could indirectly impact your ranking by limiting what you can do with your site. So, when choosing a web hosting provider, make sure the host can handle your day-to-day website activities.
#4 – Problems with Shared Hosting
A shared hosting solution might be cost-effective, but cheap servers are often unreliable.
So, what is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is where a single server stores files for multiple sites, with each website receiving a shared amount of bandwidth. As several sites share one host connected to the internet, the quality of the server is compromised, which impacts SEO.
If we’re talking about preferences, Google favours websites that don’t operate on a shared server due to the potentially harmful SEO effects. One of the most significant disadvantages of using shared hosting is spam, as cheap providers offer their services to anyone, including spammers.
Your website’s SEO and authority are also affected as you share a hosting platform with “bad neighbours”. Not only that, you’ll more than likely find that with shared hosting, there are also limited resources, sluggishness, security issues and poor technical support.
Avoid the risks of shared hosting by opting for a VPS or cloud-based host. Soar Online’s 500 Club, an offering made up of 5 benefits for £500 a month, includes a switch from shared to private hosting.
#5 – Top Level Domain (TLD)
Top-level domains (TLD) are at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet after the root domain. For example, websites containing either .com, .edu, or .org are examples of TLDs, with the letters following the dot informing the user that the content is commercial and globally recognised.
Although there have been attempts to popularise other TLDs such as .mobi and .net, most people expect websites to carry either the .com TLD or .co.UK if we’re talking about the UK. In fact, using other TLDs could harm your website by making your domain name harder to remember, resulting in reduced traffic levels.
Although TLDs have minimal impact on search performance, it is still a ranking factor. Using a recognisable domain will help your SEO efforts by making your website name more memorable and accessible.
#6 – Undesirable “Neighbours”
The reputation of websites hosted on the same server as your own can impact how your website performs when it comes to SEO and potential penalties from Google. If you are hosting your website on a shared server, check whether your website will be sitting alongside potentially undesirable sites, such as adult, gambling or spam-orientated domains, or you could find yourself being “guilty by association”!
If you are unsure how your hosting performs or what other websites you share your hosting with, we can provide you with a free report; use our quick form below to get started.
#7 – Up-Time & Downtime Of Your Web Hosting
Another significant factor for your website’s ranking and SEO is uptime and downtime. If your website suffers from regular downtime due to web hosting, it is more likely to affect your ranking with Google as they will not want to send users to ‘dead’ pages.
Using a reliable web hosting service that suffers from minimal downtime is crucial. A good hosting plan will see 99% uptime, with some offering service level agreements guaranteeing service.
#8 – Location
In recent times Google has been making significant changes to their search algorithms and have now placed massive importance on local SEO. If you are looking to target local businesses via search engines, always ensure you are using a server located in the country/region associated with your business’s location. However, if you’re working on a global product, where you host will not be a huge factor.
#9 – Acceleration or Speed of Web Hosting Server
The speed of the server also plays a major role. No matter how well your website is optimised, your rankings will be affected if your server speed is slow. So always ensure to adhere to the best structure to speed up your production/live website. There are plenty of helpful testing tools to check your server response time. Try this one and test your server response.
Web Hosting Factors That Do Not Impact SEO
There’s a lot of misconceptions about Class CIPs and web hosting. The topic was prevalent among spammers who wanted to hide that they were publishing irrelevant or unsolicited content from Google.
These spammers believed that if there were different hosting environments, it would be harder for Google to detect their website. Although there is some truth in that statement, there are other, easier ways to filter out spam networks.
Social widgets, themes, HTML comments and advertising tags have all given away spam content before.
Google is also aware that site owners have no control over anyone sharing your hosting platform, and as a result, it’s extremely rare for the web service to penalise you for matters out of your control.
However, if your web hosting service is penalised, all of the websites associated with that host could be subject to a Google penalty.
One of the main dangers of choosing a web hosting service with a poor reputation is the adverse effects it could have on your SEO.
Always research the wide range of web hosting services, paying particular attention to downtime statistics, the location of the service and the speed at which they run.
If you’re new to web hosting and have doubts about managing a server, employ a maintenance team who’s familiar with your choice of server and can help manage that aspect of your site – albeit that’s not to say this couldn’t affect your SEO.