When it comes to growing your business, building your brand, or simply achieving an edge over your competition, where your website appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) has a big impact on the amount of traffic your site receives.
Simply put, the higher your website ranks in SERPs, the better your click-through rates (CTRs) will be. Studies show that approximately 70 percent of all search engine traffic through Google originated on page one of the SERPs, while click-through rates dropped to less than six percent for web pages appearing on page two and lower.
It’s clear to see that investing in tools, techniques, and products that help to improve search engine optimization (SEO) makes good sense, and that includes choosing the right web hosting company.
Here’s the three major web hosting factors that could be helping, or hurting, your SEO efforts:
Search engines are constantly scanning websites using spiders (also known as webcrawlers) to index the content, rank the quality of the site, and look for issues that could impact user experiences.
If a spider tries to access a website during a server outage, this site will be recorded as being inaccessible. If this happens relatively frequently, the website will be red-flagged as being unreliable, leading to a drop in SERP rankings.
Why? It makes sense that server downtime should impact SEO. Search engines are intended to yield the most relevant and useful results in order to deliver the best possible user experience. However, a website that is often down cannot always be reliably accessed by web users, leading search engine rankings to drop for websites hosted on servers that are often down.
While it’s unrealistic to expect a server to be up and running 100 percent of the time since some downtime is needed for server maintenance, 99.9 percent uptime is a realistic expectation of a web hosting company.
Page Load Time
Search engines place a significant emphasis on page load times, which is understandable since the average web user will abandon a site that hasn’t fully loaded within three seconds.
How quickly a page loads depends on a number of factors, including the speed of the web host. While a slow-loading site isn’t always caused by a slow, overloaded server, it’s not uncommon for web hosts to try and maximise their profits by sharing their servers with dozens, or even hundreds of other companies.
Slow page load time has a trickle-down effect on SEO efforts. First, the traffic to the site drops because web users simply won’t wait around for a slow page to load. This leads to a spike in the ‘bounce rates’ associated with a particular website, which triggers the search engine algorithms to downgrade the ranking of the site.
The location of your server can also have an impact on SEO efforts. This is because search engines try to deliver localised SERP results whenever possible.
Search engines use the IP address of each website to decide where a website is based, and the search results are generated based on the geo-location of the web user. For example, a company that’s based in the UK which uses a web host with a server in India may be perceived as being located in India by search engine algorithms, leading to a loss in local traffic from web users in the UK.
To a lesser extent, the location of the server in relation to the web audience will also have an impact on SEO efforts. The closer a web user is to the server of the website that they are browsing, the faster that website will load onto their desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
If you do choose to host your website outside of your local area, be sure to take advantage of the geo-targeting feature in the Google Search Console Tool. This feature allows website owners to manually identify the country or countries that are being targeting, allowing globally-hosted domains to target web users in a specific geo-location.
Choosing a high-quality, established web host is one of the simplest (and most overlooked) ways to boost SEO efforts, grow your online audience, and improve your standing in the search engine results pages. Look for a host that has a proven track record of consistent server speed, reliability, and a location that matches your geo-targeted area.
Sam Martin works in Marketing for Hosting.co.uk, the innovators of UK hosting. When he’s not finding new ways to innovate the hosting process, you’ll find Sam learning about the latest updates from the world of tech.