A factor that is not mentioned a lot (but it should) when talking about SEO is the role the hosting provider plays in the SEO success or failure of a website.
A good hosting provider can boost your SEO while a bad hosting provider can negatively affect your efforts to rank high in Google and other search engines.
How do hosting providers affect SEO?
I have been dealing with hosting providers for years and I must say that overall my experience was not so good. The reason is not because the hosting providers were not good (some of them were terrible actually) but because the hosting packages I have chosen where not appropriate of my websites and certainly were not good for SEO.
We will see below which hosting packages are good for your SEO but before let me quickly explain how do hosting providers affect SEO. To do that I will concentrate on 4 factors only: speed, security, uptime and support.
Speed: Fast websites gain an additional SEO benefit compared to websites that are not so fast. Actually speed is one of the SEO factors that is known (go through our SEO checklist for more known factors), so there is no doubt that it can affect your rankings.
The speed of a website depends on a number of things but it all starts with the hosting provider. If the provider is not well equipped with up-to-date hardware and software then you will have a very slow website and not only your SEO rankings will be affected but also you will lose customers.
Security: Websites hosted on servers that are not well protected are vulnerable to attacks by spammers. This may not sound important but there are ‘spiders’ crawling the web looking for unsecure servers. Once they find one, they will hack into your website and run malicious scripts that will either redirect the users to a spammy website or add links to your pages pointing to other websites. It happened to me a lot of times and I can tell you is not a very good experience.
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Uptime: Nobody (including Google) likes to go to a website and get a message that ‘site is not available’. There are hosting providers that they don’t take this very seriously but there are also hosting providers that strive to offer 100% uptime.
In terms of SEO if a website is constantly unavailable Google will decrease its ranking position since it does not offer a good experience for its users.
Support: Support is very important and it is indirectly related with SEO. Your hosting provider should be able to help you with a number of things related to website and server management that are sometimes related to SEO.
For example if you need to make your website SSL (that is https), the hosting provider should be able to guide you (or even do this for you). Choosing a provider that has good support can make a lot of difference when you are in need for help.
Why choose VPS hosting for your website?
All the above factors are related with the hosting provider but as mentioned before, sometimes things go wrong because of the type of hosting and not because of the provider.
In reality when setting up a website you have to choose between shared hosting and VPS hosting.
Shared hosting is the cheapest of all (can be as low as $6 per month) but is the least efficient since your website is hosted on the same server as other websites without any guarantees as to the resources it can use. As a result you end up with a slow website that is constantly unvailable and vulnerable to security attacks.
The other option is choose VPS hosting where you basically pay to have your own server, with dedicated resources and isolated from any other websites. The cost can be as low as $25 per month for a good and powerful VPS server.
It took me a number of years to realise that spending a few more dollars per month on hosting can make a big difference to the speed and usability of a website for both end-users but also administrators.
How to choose a reliable VPS hosting provider?
Finding a good VPS package from a hosting provider that can give you all of the above (speed, security, uptime and support) is the ideal scenario so that you stop worrying about web hosting and spend your time growing your online business. Things to look for to help you make the right decision:
Years in the industry – Hosting providers that are in business for a long time are more likely to offer better services due to more experience than new companies.
Company identity – Are they a real company, do they own their own equipment or are they just resellers that can go out of business any time soon.
What kind of SLA do they have? – Are they committed in providing you 99.9% uptime or reply to your support requests within an hour? What kind of SLA are they committed too.
Do they offer managed VPS Hosting? It’s important to look for managed VPS hosting providers and not just VPS hosting providers. The difference is that with managed hosting the provider will do the management of the server so that you don’t have to posses system administrator skills.
For example with managed hosting, if you want to install a new software or do a certain firewall configuration, you can email the hosting company and they will do it for you (at no extra charge) as part of their support services.
What is my recommendation?
After a lot of trials and testing I was fortunate enough to find a VPS hosting provider that is reliable, secure, has good support and reasonable prices. Knownhost.com is a managed VPS provider that has excellent and super fast support.
Although I am not affiliated in any way with the company, it is not the first time that I am writing about their services since after moving my websites with them (almost 2 years ago) I experienced 100% uptime which is just amazing. Their prices are reasonable and competitive and they have up-to-date hardware (I am using SSD VPS) which gives better performance and reliability.
If you are serious about your website or blog then going for a VPS is your only choice. It will cost more than shared hosting but the benefits are a lot. When choosing a VPS hosting provider for SEO make sure that you choose a company that has years of experience, good support, clear SLAs and offers managed hosting. Knownhost.com is a good choice but I am sure that there are other companies that are also that good.