Fast, reliable, secure web hosting is critical to the success of your SEO. Google wants to deliver the best possible results and cares about user experience, so faster websites, with improved UX, enjoy better rankings. In a nutshell: solid hosting is the foundation of your SEO efforts.
SEO & Web Hosting
How important is hosting for SEO?
The simple answer is that fast, reliable and secure web hosting is important from a usability perspective, so it is equally important for SEO.
Likewise, slow, insecure, unreliable hosting can have a negative impact on usability and that can have a negative effect on your SEO.
In this article I will cover in more detail why how robust web hosting can help you get an advantage over the competition – at a far better cost and return than by simply bumping up your SEO budget in other areas.
Why hosting is good for SEO
- Uptime and Downtime
We will go into detail on each of these points below to help you make an informed decision on your SEO optimised hosting.
Hosting Is Your Website’s Home On The Web
Yet, in our experience, hosting is often scrimped on. This is a hugely false economy. Cheap hosting will give you a slow and unreliable site that has poor conversion rates. If you are spending money to drive traffic to your site, why on earth would you then not ensure your site is available and fast to maximise conversion rates?
It is easy to have blind spots and this is one supposed saving that when thought through, does not add up.
Let’s have a look at the main web hosting factors that can affect your SEO:
Unless you have been living under a digital rock, you can’t have escaped the importance of speed for SEO and conversion rates. People hate slow websites. Google hates slow websites. People love fast websites.
So, making sure your website loads in under 2 seconds is key to ensuring that you take advantage of speed as an SEO ranking factor and keep your users happy. If you do everything else right and lose a sale as your website is slow – well that’s just heartbreaking. And completely avoidable.
Unfortunately, most websites don’t get close to the 2-second goal across pages. And, in many cases, this is due to the hosting slowing things down.
Fortunately, you can test your website and hosting speed with a few tools:
Pingdom is my favourite tool for testing the speed of a website. The tool details how long your website takes to load and shows you the breakdown of what is causing the delay.
You will want to pay particular attention to the yellow on the diagram below. Yellow is the wait time. Something that is almost entirely driven by your hosting.
Pingdom also provides a service that consistently tests how fast your website is performing to ensure that page speeds are always up to scratch.
A website that is fast at 7 pm on the evening may not be consistently fast or fast during peak times. Your customers are always online and Pingdom will help you identify if your site performs 24/7.
If you are seeing loading times over 2 seconds, drop me a line and we can quickly review whether it is your website or hosting that is the problem and what to do to improve your SEO and conversion rates.
1.2. Google Page Speed
Google also has a tool. This is a little more focused on what you can do to your website itself in terms of technical optimisation, but it will give you an idea if your site is also suffering from slow loading times, which almost always points to substandard hosting. The tool also provides real-world examples (in most cases) of how fast your site loads for real users. Invaluable data!
Hosting Speed is Crucial for SEO
In 2021 Google has rolled out new metrics in Google Search Console that helps you understand page experience and specifically the Core Web Vitals that helps you understand the real-world performance of your website. Despite the noise around this we are not seeing huge impacts on rankings (yet) but if Google is giving you this kind of diagnostic information you need to pay heed.
Ultimately, if your site is slow, Google will not return you as highly as fast, mobile-optimised sites. Ensure your hosting is lightning fast to maximise visibility and convert more visitors!
2. Uptime & Downtime
Google is an answers engine. People ask questions and Google crawls the web, categorises the content on websites, and then returns the best answer when people search and ask a question.
But what happens if your website is down (or intermittently slow)? Can Google access your website when they visit? Will Google trust that they can send a user to your website if it is frequently down?
The answer here is no. If your site suffers frequent downtime, Google will not trust that they can send users to your site. This will be transient initially, but over time, if your site is consistently slow and unavailable, you will hamper your SEO efforts.
To check whether your site is unavailable for Google, you can use the tools from Pingdom or simply register with Google Search Console.
Another element that can be ruinous to SEO is website security. Popular, modern content management systems like WordPress can become insecure if they are not well maintained.
This can result in websites being hacked. In many results, this is to hijack your traffic and rankings to deliver nefarious content (typically associated with gambling, prescription drugs, or pornography).
This hugely impacts how Google trusts your site. And whilst the search engine will do its best to inform you, security is best handled proactively.
The best hosting will have security measures in place – from alerting you when elements of your site become out of date or insecure to security measures such as website firewall and antivirus. Ideally, this is combined with proactive maintenance to tackle security on all fronts.
If you get hacked then it impacts how the search engines trust you, and that, in turn, will have a negative effect on your SEO and rankings.
If you have been hacked previously and want advice on a hosting solution that has a proactive approach to SEO, get in touch.
Search engines take a variety of location-based signals into consideration when ordering results. Where is the user? Where is the business? Where is the site hosted? There are practical reasons for the latter as where your website is hosted will determine how far data has to travel, and that can have an impact on speed.
Cheap hosting is often not located in the country you are targeting. So, if your business is in the UK, you want your website in a UK data center. If your business is in the US, you want your website in a US data centre. If you operate around the world then you will want to host with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that has hubs around the world to serve content locally so the hosting is fast wherever your customers may be.
If you buy your hosting based on price alone then you are unlikely to get hosting in a local data center. This can have a further negative impact on how fast your site performs for users and, in turn, this can impact your SEO rankings.
Nutshell – Hosting Affects SEO Rankings
Like most of this digital marketing and SEO game, much of this is common sense.
Google wants to keep their users happy by sending them to fast, reliable websites. Users will not wait for slow sites when they can just quickly and easily click back to the search results.
We want hosting that is secure so we don’t end up being hacked. And we want web hosting that is geographically located where our primary target audience is.
Great hosting will not magically boost your website to the top of the search engines. You still need to get the SEO basics dialled in and follow a structured SEO process. However, great hosting is a prerequisite to strong SEO results. This is the foundation that solid SEO results are built on.
Unsure of your hosting?
Get in touch for a free analysis of your hosting situation and it’s suitability for digital marketing and SEO efforts – get in touch.
Bowler Hat – The SEO Host with the Most
At Bowler Hat, we have developed a hosting service for WordPress that is perfect for SEO. Superfast hosting. Performance optimised. Proactive security. Maintenance. Backups and disaster recovery. Inclusive technical SEO. Inclusive SSL certificate. Everything you need to support your SEO and web marketing efforts and get an advantage over your competitors. For more details, drop us a line.