Web hosting can impact a number of important factors related to a website’s online performance, which is why the health of any website is so intimately related to hosting. With so many important website factors on the line, many users can’t help but wonder if web hosting can have an effect on SEO, and the answer is yes, it can. Web hosting might not always have an effect on SEO, but the potential certainly exists.
While it’s not so much that search engines show preference to certain web hosts over others, there can be negative, SEO-related consequences for poor hosting. This is mostly because a lousy web host can hinder certain website functions that factor in to a website’s overall SEO performance. By and large, the relationship between a website’s SEO and web host boils down to these four main things.
The correlation between the location of a web host and the SEO of a site is a loose one at best, but one that exists nonetheless. If you have a website in the US and are trying to rank on Google US, it might hold you back to have a web host that’s in the UK. For web hosting, the closer users are to the server’s datacenter, the better and more quickly the server can respond. For that reason, proximity can make a big difference on the ability of the server to respond to user commands. This segues nicely into the next factor, which is speed.
There’s a strong relationship between site speed and organic rankings, and by now we know that speed is accounted for in search engine algorithms. The location of your web host is related to speed due to the aforementioned issue of user proximity to the server’s datacenter: the closer the users are, such as in the same country, the faster the server response time will be. But another component of web hosting and speed is how many sites are using the server’s resources. In general, cheap web hosting options will plop your site on a server with hundreds of other sites. That’s not always a bad thing, but if your website gets a lot of traffic or has a complex design, it’s probably not your best option.
Also known as accessibility, uptime/downtime refers to the how consistently available your website is, and that all comes back to the servers. It’s safe to assume that search engine spiders probably crawl your site a couple times each day. If your website is down because your web hosting server is down the spiders won’t be able to crawl the site, which is bad for SEO. Most reputable and prominent web hosting companies boast an uptime of 99-99.9%. Whether or not that figure is entirely accurate leaves some room for debate, but for the most part it’s pretty reliable. Top tier web hosts will have protection and guarantees of support built in to their terms of service, which is something all website owners should investigate thoroughly.
Few things as detrimental as hacking can happen to a website, which makes having a secure web host imperative. If a website gets hacked and something awful happens, liked customer information theft or a flux of spam, it can and will significantly hurt the SEO of that website. Even more problematic, it can be very difficult to recover lost ground in rankings after a website has been hacked. The best web hosts will have a secure datacenter, boast a high uptime, backup website data in case of emergencies, and even offer a manual reboot in the event of a security breach.