7 Ways Web Hosting Affects SEO

Updated: December 9, 2019
by Jack Stan

Before we start, let’s get one thing clear: SEO is not just about good keywords and a few authority links. It’s much, much more.

Sure, maintaining a steady flow of posts and updates is good for your website’s ranking, but the foundation of it is also very important—specifically, the type of hosting and hosting company you use for your website.

Speedy and trouble-free websites have a better chance of being ranked higher, and this is possible only if you go for a top-rated web hosting provider. With that said, we’ll shed some light on the ways web hosting affects SEO score, and list 7 key things you should pay attention to when searching for a hosting provider.

7 Ways Web Hosting Affects SEO

1. Uptime and Downtime

This should be on top of your list when checking out a hosting provider. The uptime and downtime percentage can be a make-or-break for your website. If your website is down frequently, that means that you should change your hosting provider ASAP.

Not only does downtime affect the performance of your website, but it also has a negative effect on both the search engine results pages (SERPs) and your SEO score. A website that is down will not show up in search results because the search engine won’t be able to find it. Also, it will decrease the bounce rate, which directly affects the authority of the website in question.

For best results, pick a top-notch hosting provider that will offer the best uptime percentage for your site. 

2. Page Loading Time

Page Loading Time

No one sticks around on a site that takes a lot of time to load. And just to be clear, if your site takes a while to load fully, you can usually point the finger at your web host.

It’s been 10 years since Google first announced that they will take page load time as a factor in determining ranking, and it has become more and more important since. 

There’s an unwritten rule that says that if a page takes more than two seconds to load, users are highly likely to choose another option on the SERP. So the lower the page load time, the better the reputation of a website and the higher the page views.

So before you jump to the best-looking offer, check out sites with online tools like GT Metrix and Google Page Speed Tool, which measure page load time.

3. Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is considered to be the best option for all who enter the webmaster world, as they present a cost-effective solution to the web hosting aspect of website building. Let’s kick off with a straightforward comparison, shall we?

Shared Hosting:

  • Price: Easy on the pocketbook. Shared hosting plans often come with a tantalizing price tag – perfect for new websites or those on a tight budget.
  • Speed: It's like carpooling. Sometimes you get the fast lane; other times, you're stuck behind a school bus. If another website on your server has a traffic spike, it can slow you down.
  • SEO Impact: If your website has consistent speed issues because of shared resources, search engines might not be your biggest fan. Slow sites can get lower rankings.
  • Great for beginners. If you're just dipping your toes into the world of websites, shared hosting can be a gentle entry point.
  • Maintenance: The hosting provider usually handles it. No need to roll up your sleeves.
  • Upgrades and Scalability: At some point, you might need more power. Many shared hosting providers offer easy upgrades, but there's a ceiling.

Dedicated Hosting:

  • Price: A bit more of an investment. With an entire server to yourself, the cost is higher. But, think about all that space!
  • Speed: Fast and consistent. It's your server; no one else can hog the resources. This often results in zippier site performance.
  • SEO Impact: With more control over speed, dedicated hosting can lead to a positive impact on SEO. Search engines tend to favor quicker, more responsive sites.
  • Room to Grow: Ideal for larger websites or those with a ton of traffic. Spread out, enjoy the space!
  • Maintenance: Requires a bit more tech know-how. But hey, some people like getting their hands dirty.
  • Customization: Adjust server settings, install software, or optimize for performance. The world's your oyster.

So, where does SEO fit into all this? Speed is just one piece of the vast SEO puzzle. But it's a piece that's been growing in importance. Visitors love speedy sites. And if visitors are happy, search engines are happy. That's the simple truth.

When you're on shared hosting, unpredictable speed bumps can pop up. Maybe another site on your server suddenly goes viral, or perhaps there's a surge in traffic during a holiday sale. These unpredictable moments can slow your site down, and if they happen often, it can nudge search engines to push your website down the search rankings.

On the flip side, dedicated hosting gives you the driver's seat. Since it's just you, the speed is often faster and more consistent. This reliability can be a big thumbs up in the eyes of search engines.

4. Website & Web Host Security

Web host security

You can have all the passwords and mechanisms in place to protect your website(s), but sometimes that isn’t enough. Your hosting provider needs to have good protection, too.

The Ripple Effects of a Hacked Website

Imagine waking up one morning, coffee in hand, only to find your website painted with graffiti-like ads, spammy links, or worse. Yikes! A hacked website isn’t just an eyesore; it's a blow to your reputation, business, and search rankings.

  • Trust Erosion: Your visitors trust you. If they see spam or get redirected to dubious sites, that trust can vanish in an instant.
  • Downtime: Repairing a hacked site isn't a snap-your-fingers situation. The longer the fix takes, the more potential visitors you lose.
  • Search Engine Blues: Search engines don’t like sending users to potentially harmful sites. If malware's detected on your site, it could be pushed down in rankings or even removed altogether.

Why Unsecured Web Hosts are Trouble

Your web host is like the foundation of your digital house. If the foundation is weak, the entire structure is at risk.

  • Shared Vulnerability: If you're on shared hosting and one website gets compromised, there's potential risk for others on the same server.
  • Data Loss: Without adequate security measures, all that precious data could be at the mercy of cybercriminals.
  • Unwanted Guests: A lack of security might invite bots, spammers, and hackers. They're the party crashers of the digital world, and trust us, you don’t want them around.

Keeping Your Website and Web Host Secure

Alright, so things can get messy. But here’s the good news: you can take steps to protect your website and ensure your web host is up to snuff.

  • Regular Backups: Think of this as an insurance policy. Regular backups ensure that if anything goes haywire, you can restore your site to its previous state.
  • Update: Running old versions of software, plugins, or themes? That's like leaving your front door unlocked. Always keep everything updated to patch vulnerabilities.
  • Strong Passwords: This one's a no-brainer. Swap out “password123” for something complex and unique. And change passwords regularly!
  • SSL Certificates: I will talk about it in a minute.
  • Choose a Secure Web Host: Not all hosting providers are created equal. When shopping around, look for those that prioritize security. Features like malware scanning, firewalls, and secure server capabilities should be on your checklist.

The SEO and Security Connection

Maintaining security isn’t just about fending off cyber attackers; it’s intertwined with SEO. Search engines aim to provide a safe browsing experience for users. If your site's compromised, it sends a red flag, signaling that maybe your site isn't the best to show to searchers. And, as mentioned, a malware-infected site might get pushed down in rankings or even de-indexed.

Make sure your hosting provider is safe by checking out customer reviews. Don’t forget to ask them what safety measures and which mechanisms you can turn to if things turn sour.

5. SSL Certification

SSL Certification

Having an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a must since Google has confirmed that it’s also a factor that determines SEO score. Most web hosts provide free SSL certificates, so use the one you’re given. 

While an SSL certificate can get you additional SEO score points, it also improves the reputation and reliability of your site. Users will feel much safer browsing through your site and inputting data, knowing it’s all protected.

The cost of an SSL can vary based on the type of certificate, where you're obtaining it from, and any additional features or warranties it might offer. Here's a breakdown:

1. Free SSL Certificates

Think of services like Let's Encrypt as the generous folks handing out freebies. A bunch of web hosts have teamed up with them, offering easy-peasy SSL installations. They handle the basic job of encrypting data between your website and its visitors.

2. Domain-Validated (DV) Certificates

This is like your standard cup of coffee - does the job and ensures the website belongs to you. Costs can be as low as free or up to about $50 a year, depending on where you’re shopping.

3. Organization-Validated (OV) Certificates

Taking it up a notch, OV certificates are like that premium coffee with an extra shot. They validate your domain and give a bit of info about your organization. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 annually.

4. Extended Validation (EV) Certificates

This is the fancy, grande, extra-whip option. With EV, sometimes you'll see the company's name in the address bar, giving your visitors that warm and fuzzy feeling of extra trust. These can set you back between $100 to $500 each year.

5. Wildcard and Multi-Domain SSLs

If you've got a bustling digital domain with subdomains or multiple sites, this is your ticket. Covering all those domains might cost you from $50 to a few hundred bucks annually.

6. Those Little Extras

Just like choosing toppings for your ice cream, some SSL providers offer tasty add-ons. Think warranties or those shiny site badges that shout, "Hey, we're secure!" Prices can vary based on these goodies.

Is SSL a standard with web hosting now?

Many hosting companies are adding SSL certificates as a part of the deal, often without asking for an extra dime. Especially if you're eyeing business-friendly or managed hosting options.

But here's the scoop: The type of SSL they offer can differ. Lots of them gift you with the free DV certificates. If you're dreaming bigger and looking for OV or EV certificates, there might be a little price tag attached.

6. Server Location

The location of your server is very important, and can drastically affect the audience and SEO ranking. The closer your server is to your target audience, the more visitors your site will have.

For example, a Germany-based website will get good SEO ranking if it’s being hosted in Germany and will get more relevant visitors to it.

The thing that plays the biggest role in all of this is the IP address. Your website’s IP address is like a geographical coordinate for your site. And Google works in a way that likes to pair Germans with German websites and Italians with Italian websites.

Also, the location of your server can have a small effect on the load speed, as fetching information from a distant server takes a bit more time than it would if the server was nearby.

7. The Domain

The Domain German Spanish

The domain of your website can also affect your SEO ranking and the number of visitors you have. 

Let’s take the Germany example from above. We said that Google likes to pair Germans with German websites, and this means that, for them, Google is more likely to recommend websites that end in .de, while it would recommend websites that end with .es to Spanish visitors. This isn’t an issue for local brands, as they usually set their domains this way, but how can one know if their .com site is getting in front of the right audience? 

That’s simple: they use geo-targeting tools.

There are a few of these on the market, and even Google has one. Pick one, choose the target country, and you are all set.

Final Words

Resist your urge to just go for the most affordable hosting solution. Find one that will suit your business and your needs—something that will set a perfect foundation for you to build your business on. There will always be cheap options, but in the long run, they do more harm than good.

About the Author

Online Marketing Career Consultant. Network marketing and web developing since 2009, helping people quit daytime job and earn enough money and freedom. Keen swimmer, horse-rider, cake-baker, a little bit of OCD.

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