When people talk about SEO (search engine optimisation), they will normally be referring to the stuff you do on web pages to make it as attractive to search engines – and users – as possible.
This usually includes optimising page content and structure, employing various techniques such as Google+ authorship to help build up an online reputation, and generally monitoring the popularity of certain keywords and phrases which are directly related to the brand, products or services offered on websites.
But one thing that even seasoned SEO professionals and those with a specific interest in SEO sometimes forget about, is the fact that your web host can affect your website’s SEO! Here is why your web host can affect your website’s SEO:
One of the major factors that can affect your website’s search engine optimisation efforts – and sometimes hinder them – is your web host server’s reliability. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing will regularly ‘crawl’ your web pages in order to find out about any new content on there.
Search engine crawling refers to an automated process whereby it will read a list of URLs on your website that you have told it to access, such as a “sitemap” file which is in XML format.
It will also attempt to find and access any other pages or content such as PDF or Word document files that are linked from the pages on your website (unless you have specifically blocked them using a robots.txt file).
It one or more pages or files that a web crawler is allowed to visit cannot be accessed due to your web host’s server being down for whatever reason, it will return an error message when you log into the search engine’s webmaster tools area.
Should this occur on a regular basis, then there is a high possibility that those URLs will be dropped from the search engine’s index, resulting in a loss of traffic from organic searches.
Another problem that can affect SEO is the reputation of the web hosting company or organisation themselves. If they are well-known to host websites of an illegal or illicit nature, search engines such as Google may blacklist the IP addresses of the servers they use.
So, if your website is hosted on one of those blacklisted servers, then you will have little to no chance of being able to establish and build up a reputation for your website on such search engines. When you are looking at choosing website hosting, you should always make sure that the company you want to host your website are reputable and reliable.
Something which is related to the reliability part of this blog post is the web host’s location. Although you can obviously host any website in any part of the world, the truth is the further your web host’s servers are physically located from the bulk of your intended target audience, the slower it will be to access.
For example, if you have a UK website which is hosted on a web server somewhere in Australia, it will be slower to access, and these speed problems can negatively affect SEO if a web crawler tries to access your site, and it receives a timeout message because the server is taking too long to respond with page content.