Does web hosting affects SEO and if yes what you should know about it?
Your web hosting provider i.e. the company that is hosting your website affects your SEO efforts in a number of ways. A good hosting provider can help you achieve your SEO goals faster while a bad web hosting provider can hinder your efforts.
To get straight to the point let me first explain what the term SEO web hosting means and then we go directly to explain how SEO is affected by the hosting provider and finally how to choose SEO friendly web hosting providers.
What is SEO web hosting?
SEO web hosting does not have a formal definition because it is not a procedure or product as such but rather is a term that people use to describe a web hosting provider that is SEO friendly. In reality though an SEO friendly provider does not offer something special that can boost SEO but it simply does not do anything bad that can damage SEO.
In other words an SEO web hosting provider is a provider that does not follow practices (as we will see below) that can negatively affect SEO.
How is your SEO affected by the hosting provider?
Search engine optimization is a set of rules you can apply to your website so that is has more exposure and visibility to search engines. Among those rules some are related and affected by your hosting provider like: performance (speed), availability (uptime), security and SEO awareness.
Web site speed: The speed of a website is a known SEO factor and one of the items affecting on page SEO. Your website should load as fast as possible in order to take advantage of the SEO benefits but also to offer your users a better experience which leads to more conversions.
In order to have a fast website you need 2 things. First, a good hosting provider with enough resources, a good datacentre infrastructure and fast hardware and second a well-coded website with optimized code and images.
For the second part, this is something you can control but for the first part if the provider does not have good hardware then this will also affect the performance of your website and your only option is to migrate to a more trusted provider.
Web site availability: Another factor that affects your search engine rankings is web site availability. Search engines and especially Google don’t like to redirect their users to websites that are not available that’s why they check and can remove (at least temporarily) from their index websites that have availability issues.
The availability of a website is the responsibility of web hosting providers and failure to do so can damage your online reputation. The worst case scenario is that this is happening while you are sleeping and if you don’t have any website monitoring tools in place you are losing customers and traffic.
Security: You may take all measures to secure your website but if the hosting provider does not do the same then it’s like building sand castles. For those of you who had the experience of a hacked website then you know what I am talking about and how frustrating it is to see your business hacked.
A website that does not have good security is most probably infected by malware and if this is not resolved fast it results in de-indexing and domain blacklisting.
SEO Awareness: If your hosting provider does not know what SEO is and don’t understand the basic principles, they may sometimes do things that can damage your efforts without knowing what they are doing. For example I had cases where my hosting provider restricted the google bot in the robots.txt because they were making many visits to my website! For those that know what robots.txt is can understand how SEO unfriendly the provider was.
This is just one example, I have seen providers shutting down websites because they had a lot of traffic and or asking webmasters to remove plugins (like Live Chat) because their infrastructure could not handle the extra load (although they did promise unlimited resources).
The bottom line is that your hosting provider should not do anything that could damage your SEO or reputation because of their inefficiencies and more importantly they should not do this without your permission.
How to choose SEO friendly web hosting providers?
Over the last 12 years I am working online, I had the opportunity to work with a number of web hosting providers and tried all sorts of hosting packages. Choosing an SEO web hosting provider is not hard and the good news is that there many good providers out there. The competition is tough and this makes them offer better services for lower prices which is good for the consumer.
Having said that it does mean that all hosting providers are good so I will try to give you some tips on how to select a good and SEO friendly provider for your online business or website.
Years in Business – While this is not a quality factor, a company that’s in business for a decade has more experience than a start-up. It also means that they must be doing something correct otherwise they would not survive that long.
Reputation – What is the reputation of the company? What do people and especially experts think about their services? Is it a cheap hosting provider with a very slow home page and outdated design?
Reviews – What do their customers say? What do people have to say about their up-time percentage, services and support? Search the web for reviews, look at their forums and social media pages. Do they interact with their customers and do they respond to customer comments or questions.
Datacenter – Do they have their own datacenter or they are just reselling services for another provider? Do they follow technology by having latest hardware and adhere to best practices or they have outdated hardware and procedures?
What are your hosting needs? Last but not least before selecting a hosting provider, you should know exactly what your needs are. Do you need your own virtual private server (VPS) because you expect to have large numbers of traffic or maybe you need a dedicated server? Is a shared hosting package the best solution for your business or maybe you need something more secure and scalable?
Although when I started writing this article I wanted to avoid making any recommendations as to which companies to choose, I have then decided that it would only be theoretical if I did not provide you with some companies I have used and remained happy from their services.
I have to clear out though that I am not affiliated with any of the companies below and there is no financial benefit for me if you choose those companies or if you click the links and go to their websites.
Shared hosting providers: Shared hosting is the cheapest and most popular web hosting package. It is suitable for beginners to blogging or people who just need to have a couple of pages online and only expect a handful of visitors per day.
Although many shared hosting providers promise unlimited resources and good service not all meet their promises. The best shared hosting providers in my opinion are: bluehost, inmotion hosting and hostgator.
Managed VPS providers: If you are serious about your website or online business then vps hosting is the way to go. A VPS hosting package has all the advantages of a dedicated server but at a lower cost.
I am using knownhost vps hosting for all my websites and I have experienced 100% uptime the last months. Their service is fantastic and their prices are comparable to other providers.
Besides knownhost, I would also recommend bluehost for VPS.
A web hosting provider has a role to play in your website’s success. Although there are no SEO web hosting companies as such, by choosing a provider that is reliable and trustworthy you can protect your website from unpleasant surprises (that also affect SEO) like slow loading speeds, downtime and security risks.
A lot of providers offer good services but if you don’t know which one to choose, the 4 providers mentioned above can offer you a good service at competitive prices.