In today's world, businesses need a strong online presence to reach high levels of success. That's because an online presence equals better branding, more visibility, and, in the end, more customers/clients. One massive part of building that online presence? Ranking high on search engines.
All businesses that operate online know about SEO by now. Whether you're a business owner or marketer, you will know just how vital an SEO strategy is to ensure your website ranks high on Google, beating the competition. But do you also know that your choice of hosting company can also have an impact on that ranking? It's true – and in this article, you can find out precisely what influence your web host has over your SEO efforts. So, read on to learn what a hosting service is, how it impacts search engine rankings, and how to choose the best hosting company for your business.
What is a Hosting Server?
A hosting server is a type of company that hosts websites for others. It provides a secure online location for users to build their websites however they see fit. They do this by providing a server, which can be anywhere worldwide, that stores all the website's data. By using a web hosting company, you are basically renting space on their server, and in that space, you can store your data and files – everything that goes into your website.
It's important to note that there are different types of web hosting providers – some are a better fit than others. For example, some provide more bandwidth; some are free, and others you must pay for. The type you choose will depend on your business – particularly the size of your business.
Who Uses a Hosting Company?
A hosting company's clients include a whole range of people and businesses who simply want to build a website. Of course, a lot of a hosting server's target market is businesses (including e-commerce businesses).
Many people use a web hosting company because they can provide excellent tech support, access to a domain email address, reliability, security, and so much more. With a high-quality hosting company, businesses can rely on their website running smoothly for their users.
What Hosting Factors Influence SEO?
As mentioned, SEO matters. With the right SEO strategy, you can watch your business grow by reeling in more customers and creating a stronger brand. The chances are you have already put a lot of effort into your website's SEO, so you won't want anything damaging to that. The question is, can a website hosting provider affect it?
The answer is a resounding yes! A website host can affect SEO. The main reason is that search engines favour fast and smooth-running websites – something a hosting server plays a role in. Here is precisely what a hosting company can influence regarding SEO.
- Website Speed
Google prioritises speed, which means page loading times affect SEO directly. It makes sense – there's a much better user experience with fast loading times. A website host can significantly affect how speedy your website runs, as some simply run faster than others. For example, a web host server with low bandwidth – lower than you require – will harm your SEO rankings due to longer loading times. That's why choosing a host that matches your traffic needs is important.
- Location of the Server
The physical location of the server can also impact your SEO. For example, imagine you're running your website from the UK, but the server is all the way in China; that distance might slightly impact the loading times. There's a reason many hosting companies have servers in multiple locations!
It should be noted, however, that the server's location doesn't make an impact in terms of targeting that particular country/region.
- SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate proves your website's identity and instils trust. Google prefers websites with an SSL certificate, so you may rank lower if you choose a host that doesn't provide one.
- Server Downtime
If you have a poor-running web host who frequently has downtime, it will affect your website's performance, lowering its search engine ranking. Ideally, you would choose a website provider with a lot of uptime for the best SEO.
Security measures are a must. While increased security (such as having data backups in case of hacking) doesn't directly influence SEO, it can have an impact. That's because if your website experiences a data breach, it could significantly affect your ranking. So, choose a web hosting plan with regular backups to prevent data loss and improve your reputation.
- Types of Hosting
You can find a range of web hosts – some might better fit you than others, especially regarding SEO. Here are some of the types of hosting providers you can come across:
- Shared Hosting
- Virtual Private Server
- Dedicated Hosting
- Cloud Hosting
- Managed Hosting
- Free Hosting
So, for example, cloud hosting might be a good fit if you want lots of uptime, as there is always a backup server to rely on. Dedicated hosting can be an excellent choice if you want high-speed loading times, as you will not be sharing the server with anyone else (although it is expensive). Both of these advantages help your SEO rankings.
How to Choose the Best Host?
So, how do you choose the right one for your business – keeping SEO in mind? In terms of SEO, you want high speed, invulnerable security, and little to no downtime. But, at the same time, you want to work within your budget. We speak to Paul Morris from Superb Digital in Bristol about what factors to consider when looking for a hosting partner – here they are.
- Your Budget
While your budget plays no role in your SEO outcomes, it's still an important consideration, as you need to know the kind of host you can realistically afford.
- The Type of Host
After determining your budget, you need to know what kind of host best suits your needs. For small businesses, you likely won't need a dedicated server; shared hosting will suffice. However, if you're a huge enterprise, you may want a large bandwidth. In this case, a private server works well.
- Customer Support
Building a website is easier than ever, but you'll still want to know your host has a responsive customer service team on hand should you need it. Make sure it has excellent customer support so that if you run into any issues, they get solved quickly.
Sometimes, you'll need a larger bandwidth than others. Having a web host that provides scalability means having a server that adapts to your needs – something you should always look out for when choosing one.
- High Levels of Security
Lastly, always ensure the host has high levels of security in the form of regular backups. It's your website and your data; after all, you need to know it's in safe hands.
When searching for a website host, always keep the above five factors in mind, and you are sure to make a more sensible decision.
How to Switch Hosts?
Do you want to switch hosts? Perhaps you've found your current one isn't helping you rank well on search engines. Fortunately, the process is quite straightforward – here's what you need to do.
- Pick Your New Website Host
You can use the tips above to make the correct choice, choosing a host that fits your business's needs.
- Backup Your Website
You'll need to download and back everything up. That means everything, from your content to your files to your URLs.
- Export Database
Next, transfer all the data to your new host. Usually, you can do this with phpMyAdmin, but you can also use other platforms.
- Create a New Database
At this point, set up a brand-new database for your new website. Then, move all your existing data into the new one. You can always make changes along the way to ensure it all aligns properly.
- Move Your Files
Then, move your existing files to the new provider. In some cases, you might need to edit the code so that it syncs. Once transferred and synced, you can upload them.
- Test the Website
Once that is all complete, perform the tests before going live. How you test depends on the provider. The key part here is to be thorough, ensuring all internal links and URLs are correct.
Choose the Right Web Host for Optimal SEO
As you can see, the website host you use significantly impacts your search engine ranking. The last thing you want is for your SEO strategy to stop working so well due to a poor-quality website host. So, naturally, you want to choose a server that fits well with your particular business. Your main goal is to ensure the host has high levels of security, provides fast loading speeds, and offers excellent customer support should you need it. By prioritising these, your web host will not negatively harm your SEO efforts.