COULD YOUR WEB HOSTING BE AFFECTING YOUR SEO?

Your Web Hosting Could be affecting your SEO

Web Hosting server and SEO article image

Is your site experiencing poor ranking even though you followed Google's SEO guidelines to the letter. Then your web hosting could be affecting your SEO campaign and preventing you from achieving high ranking.

Before reading this article about how your hosting company could be affecting your SEO?, we recommend that you pick up one of your favorite drink, and Enjoy (the drink and the article of course!).

CHOOSE YOUR HOSTING COMPANY CAREFULLY

Did you know that site speed (or page speed) is one of many important factors to the success of your website and that the web hosting could be either helping you succeed, or adding to your SEO demise?

When was the last time you audited your hosting company, or run a GTmetrix, or Pingdom scan? Probably never, or maybe you just didn't have the time to check your hosting plan's hardware and software features. If you haven't yet, then you are to blame for the slow speed of your website, and not the web hosting company.

TRAITS OF A GOOD HOSTING COMPANY

There are hundreds, if not thousands of hosting companies to choose from but not all hosting companies are created equal, so before you get that hosting plan, there are important treats a good hosting company should have, and they are

  • Customer Support - A good hosting company should have a 365 days support with a toll free number
  • Local Support - If I am in the US, then I should get a support technician based in the US, and not in the other side of the world. Some will actually just tell you to open a ticket
  • Ticketing System - When you must open a support ticket, you should not have to wait 24 or 48 hours for a response just to tell you 'We need access to your FTP account'
  • Knowledgeable support technician - The support technician should be trained before putting him on the phone because no one wants to be put on hold, while the tech is himself getting support from his colleague on something he should know in the first place, especially when your site is down
  • Plain English - I had my share dealing with support that spoke a language that only him could understand. The language should not be too technical for a regular Joe to understand.
  • Software update - They update their software (PHP, MySQL for example) version as soon as the new version is made available

After you've read this article, pick up the phone, call your website's hosting company and ask questions! Now sure what questions to ask? No problem because what you are about to read will provide you with the questions, and answers that will help you decide whether you want to dump your existing hosting company, or stay and demand some actions.

But first, let us talk a little bit about

SITE SPEED AND SEO

According to Google, site speed (or page speed to be exact) is one of many ranking factors (over 200 of them) and if the time to first byte is high, it means that your page speed is slow, thus resulting in low page crawl, and poor ranking.

So if the time to first byte is extremely high, talk to your hosting company, and if they give you the run around, move on!

PAGE SPEED & USER EXPERIENCE (UX)

If you don't want to wait an eternity for the page, of your favorite site, to load, know that you are not alone because honestly, we are not patient (I know I am not and especially when it comes to slow computers, and very slow websites). The slower your page speed is, the higher the bounce rate will be.

So if you want to improve user experience (UX) and boost customer retention, this is what you will have to work on

WEB HOSTING (did you think it couldn't affect your SEO?)

Which hosting company you choose, as a home for your website, will have a positive, or negative impact on your SEO campaign, and ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). If you've chosen your existing hosting company because of their cheap price offer (some are offering .01 a month hosting plan as I am writing this article), then the only person to blame, for your poorly ranked website, is you and you alone.

So what should you do? Audit your hosting company and the hosting plan, and depending on your audit report, you might have to find a new home for your business website, or demand action.

Side note: Do not lock yourself into a long term contract, like 2 or 3 years just because they tell you that by buying a 3 or more years of web hosting, you will be saving a lot of money.

If the result of the audit report is bad, and the hosting company is not listening to your complaints and demands, inform them that 'you are moving on up, to the much improved side, to a home with SSD drives and better compression' the end of this month.

Your new home on the east side should offer the following.

99.99 UPTIME

100% of Uptime, with 0% downtime and optimal speed would be a haven sent - You can wait till you get to heaven for that :-) but one thing we recommend is to monitor your site's up-time, downtime speed on a regular basis and if you notice a drop, pick up the phone and contact your web hosting company right away.

It is worth to opt for a month to month plan, even if you don't get a discounted price, because that way, if after two months they start experiencing problem and are not doing anything about it, or not listening to their customers' complaints, you can easily drop them like a hot potato

REGARDING DOWNTIME

Imagine for a moment, if you please, your website is a brick and mortar store and that every time I visit your store to see whether you have new product, or offer any deal, and I see a sign that says 'Closed', and I come back later, the following day and the sign is still there, do you think I will continue coming back to your store, or visit your competitor's store? What are the chances of me visiting your store again? Probably very slim, or never again

So get a new employee and maybe keep the store open 24/365 and this will make me your faithful customer for many years to come

STORAGE

How much data can you store and 500MB? Not not enough. Depending on your website size and needs, 10GB (small size website) should suffice for your small websute but for an eCommerce, the requirements are higher

Side note - BEWARE of the 'unlimited storage limit' print for no one actually offer you unlimited storage (it is just another scam). So read the fine print and look for a hosting company that makes the information about each of the hosting plan easily available and clear. Also, check how easy it would be if you had to upgrade to a higher storage and how much you will have to pay extra

HARD DRIVE TYPE

I haven't checked whether all hosting companies move up to SSD drives, but just in case, look for a hosting company that offers SSD storage in every hosting plan (including their cheapest ones) instead of the old mechanical drives. An SSD drive will improve your site speed because it has non-moveable parts.

CPU

Your hosting company is renting you a server, which is just a computer that is configured differently than your home computer, and the more powerful CPU it has, the faster the operating system and software will run. So a 1x 3.0GHz CPU is slower than a 2x 3GHz CPU, and a 4x 3.0GHz CPU is faster than the 2x 3.0GHz CPU. You can do the math later.

RAM

The more Ram, the better and faster your website will be. Depending on the type of the website you plan to have, and what features you are planning to implement, 2GB should be enough to start with but if you can more RAM for the same price, or slightly higher, than go for it

OS - WINDOW OR LINUX

When choosing a hosting plan, we recommend that you go with a linux based server and not a window based one! Why? Well, just in case you were not aware, here they are

  • Stable OS - Linux based server is well know to be stable and run for many years without any failure.
  • Hardware - Linux does not require frequent hardware upgrade. Go with a hosting company that offers light-weight Linux containers
  • Security - We all know that when it comes to security, Linux is more secure than Windows because Linux is based on Unix. When was the last time you rebooted your Linux based computer? Probably for months, if not years :-)

BANDWIDTH

Before choosing that company to host your website, make sure you read that fine print about bandwidth or risk having your site shut down because of increased visits to your site.

A good hosting company should know about SEO and what should be implemented in order to provide you with optimized hardware and software to help you with your SEO campaign, and not damage your search engine optimization efforts

Side note - Don't believe in 'unlimited bandwidth' offers because in reality, there is no such thing as 'unlimited bandwidth'. Remember that hosting companies (at least the ones our clients had the unfortunate experience with) will throttle your CPU usage and even shut your site down if you exceed your inodes limit.

DEMAND TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS

If you can't afford the dedicated server hosting plan and you must go with shared hosting, ask the hosting company whether they host (or allow) adult websites? I am not saying that sharing a server with an adult website will affect your SEO, but all I am saying is that adult website tend to eat up a lot of bandwidth.

FREE DOMAIN OFFER

Don't base your decision because such hosting company is offering free domain with any hosting plan! We recommend that you purchase your domain name from a trusted registrar instead. Domains are still cheap.

We've heard stories about site owners being offered free domain, then when they were not happy with their hosting company, transferring the domain was not free, and the process of moving the domain to another registrar took two weeks.

So separate your domain from your hosting company and if you decide to move your site to another home, then all you have to worry about is making changes to your DNS server.

SITE BACKUP

If you believe your hosting company's server won't be hacked, or experience data loss, then let me tell you right now that I am a billionaire and I just offer web design and SEO services to everyone, for free, and for fun.

Remember, computers (servers) are man made, and anything man made can break at anytime. So look for a hosting company that offers free daily backup (at least 30 copies) and the ability to restore the site yourself if you can, and if not, they are there to help you, and at no additional cost.

Also, you also need to know where those backups are stored (all in one place or at different offsite storage.

SITE RESTORE

Many web hosting company might not offer site restore in case your site his hacked, or offer the service but at additional cost. Depending on the hosting plan you select, site backup might be included but when it comes to site restore, you might have to either do it yourself, or shell out more money to have the hosting company restore your site.

Still, no matter what hosting plan you have, and if you are using Joomla or WordPress, we recommend that you add Akeeba Backup to your components/extensions arsenal. And if you are using a PHP based website, you can use Akeeba Solo (we have No Affiliation to Akeeba and we are not getting any kick backs).

DATA CENTER LOCATION

Now, most of big hosting companies do offer multiple data center options, but just in case, go ahead and ask them, and if they do, how easy is it to switch (not sure why you would need to do that, but just in case). Can you do it yourself from the cPanel?

ACCESS TO FILES

We have a client (SEO) that started with one of the highly advertised hosting/site builder company but unfortunately, we were very limited to what we can do because we did not have FTP, SSH access and cPanel, thus we couldn't Combine and Minify their CSS and JavaScript files, change file permission and more.

GO FOR SSL

Even though Google announced, in August 06/2014 that it will give a site with SSL a minor boost in ranking, it is still a boost! So if you haven't switched to SSL yet, stop reading this article (just for a moment), and get an SSL now.

Note that there are two ways of switching your site to HTTPS, the right way, and the wrong way. Google has a great guide to help you swith from HTTP to HTTPS

LET'S ENCRYPT

If you don't have the money for an SSL certificate, your hosting company should offer a free 'Let's Encrypt' (provided you don't need a dedicated IP). Let's encrypt is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). Let's Encrypt offers a free, automated and open certificate authority (CA).

DEDICATED IP AND SEO

There are many controversies related to whether a dedicated IP will actually improve your SEO, or not. So let us share the 'Do you really need a dedicated IP address for better SEO?' article written by Mike Zielonka. Don't forget to read Matthew Egan's comment on Michael's article.

This is what Matt Cutts said about spammy websites and whether they affect other website's, on the same server' SEO campaign

Do you think web hosting affects your SEO?

Do you believe that web hosting is an integral part of good SEO? Did we miss something and would like to add it to? Then kindly fill out our simple contact form!

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