SEO ranking plays a crucial role in this age of digital marketing. High ranking on search engine search results, SERPs, not only improves a website’s visibility but also increases conversion rates.
According to 2019 SEO statistics, SEO ranking accounts for 14% conversion rates, and only 25% of Google users scroll beyond the first page of search results.
SEO ranking depends on several factors; the well-known ones are keyword SEO optimisation and content marketing. However, many websites with SEO optimised content miss the first two result pages. The answer lies in one often-neglected factor, web hosting.
Web hosting plays a significant role in the SEO ranking of a site. Since you only get to choose this once in a month or a year, you need to get it right the first time, if possible. Here are five ways the choice of web hosting service affects how a site ranks on SERPs.
1. Server Uptime
Uptime is a measure of the number of times a website is available or accessible to visitors within a given period. Its opposite is downtime. A good option should guarantee 99.9% uptime. Downtimes affect both the performance of a website as well as its SERP ranking.
When a website is down, it behaves as if it does not exist. Therefore, when a search engine receives a query based on a keyword related to the website or page, it does not find the web page. If the downtimes are frequent, the search engine flags the website as unstable and shows other sites instead, even when the webpage is live.
Besides, downtime increases the bounce rate. Search engines consider high bounce rates as an indicator of an untrustworthy website and flag it to lower ranks.
2. Loading Speeds
There was a time when 7 seconds was the accepted average page loading time. However, most internet users today will move on to another website if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Slow pages can be a result of heavy images that need optimisation. However, often, it is due to lack of resources on the web host’s side. Besides disappointed visitors, it also leads to lower SEO ranking.
Slow pages often increase the number of visitors leaving the site within a second or two. A website’s ranking on search results suffers from every bounce.
3. Shared Hosting
Yes, search algorithms work the way they do because they operate on specific criteria. Among the many factors considered by search engine algorithms is the type of web hosting service.
Suppose two websites have the same quality of keyword optimisation, but one is on a dedicated server while another is on shared hosting. Which one will rank higher? The answer is obvious; the one on a dedicated server will win.
Shared hosting is an excellent option for those who are starting and are on a budget. However, it works against the site’s search engine ranking for several reasons. First, the hosting service provider assumes that quality is not the main priority. Hence, downtimes are frequent, and pages load slowly.
Search engines also prefer dedicated, virtual private servers and cloud servers because of their high level of trustworthiness. It is easy for a website on a shared host to be surrounded by spamming sites. Such a neighbourhood reduces the website’s authority and consequently, SEO ranking.
In addition to dangerous neighbours, shared hosting also has little to no security, which makes the sites easy prey for hackers. Search engines consider this too.
4. Host Location
It is possible to have a lower search engine ranking even with the best web hosting service. The problem is often on the location of the server. The best practice is to have a server close to your target audience.
First, having a host server located close to the intended audience reduces the time it takes to fetch data. Consequently, it leads to faster page loading and download rates. The overall effect is reduced bounce rate and a consequent boost in SERP ranking.
It is even more important for e-commerce websites since online stores with a local host are more likely to have improved SEO ranking and relevant traffic than the others.
Every website has an IP address that points the search engine to the location of your website, which is often the server. Take for instance, if your host server is in Canada and your business is in Europe. Google will point Canadian users to your website and European users to other sites on servers in or closer to Europe.
It is easy to solve the above problem using a location-specific domain such as .uk, .ie, and the likes. However, this is limiting if you need to have your business available to people in different regions like the US, Australia, and Brazil. In such a case, even the location of the server does not help. Only one tool can help, geo-targeting console.
Websites with universal domains such as .com, .net, .online, among others, need to point the search engine to their target countries. It will improve the visibility of the website in local ranking results. Most web hosting services allow this through the Geo-targeting console. Unfortunately, some web hosting packages do not come with this option.
Summary: Choosing an SEO Friendly Web Hosting Service
Let us wrap this up with five tips on how to select a web hosting service that will increase the SEO performance of a website.
- Size of the site: How much traffic do you envision to have on your website? A secure shared-hosting service is sufficient for a small website with few visitors. However, sites with 1000+ visitors in a day need better hosting service for better search engine ranking and functionality. A dedicated server, cloud server, or a VPS is a suitable option.
- Security: Trust is one of the essential considerations in e-commerce. Sites that install SSL certificates are more secure and rank better than the ones that do not. Ensure your host allows you to purchase or install this certificate on your site.
- Uptime: Settle for 99.9% uptime. Web hosting service providers often provide data to prove that they can deliver this uptime level, ask for it.
- Data centre location: Hosts often have data centres in various regions. You should opt for one that is close to your target audience. Alternatively, choose a web hosting service that has an integrated or third party Content Delivery/Distribution Network, CDN. It leads to faster browsing and minimises server overload or crash.
- Backup system: Find out if the host has a backup system or a plugin, just in case the server crashes.
Having these five factors in mind will make it easy for you to choose the hosting service that suits your need and helps your SEO optimisation efforts.
Delan Cooper is a writer with years of experience in marketing communication. He enjoys meeting new people and reading more books to get inspired for his own book. Connect with him on