In a nutshell – fast, reliable web hosting is very critically important for SEO. Slow hosting can hold you back and negatively impact your SEO in more ways than one.
Fast, reliable 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.
Hosting Is Your Website’s Home On The Web
Yet, in our experience, hosting is often scrimped on. This is a mistake – hosting can affect SEO. Putting your website on some cheap hosting will not only impact your results but will impact all marketing efforts so is a provably false economy.
There are three key 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
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 struggle to get any results from 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 datacenter. If your business is in the US, you want your website in a US datacenter. If you operate around the world then you will want hosting 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 datacenter. This can have a further negative impact on how fast your site performs for users and, in turn, this can impact your SEO rankings.
Hosting Affects SEO Rankings
Like most of this digital marketing and SEO game, much of this is common sense.
We want hosting that is fast and reliable as users are impatient and won’t wait for slow sites and they certainly will not tolerate a site that is unavailable.
Google will not refer search engine visitors to slow sites. We want hosting that is secure so we don’t end up being hacked. And we want 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.
The 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.