When you think of SEO, you probably spend a lot of time focused on the main drivers of search engine performance: Keywords, social signal performance, the quality and freshness of your content, and the quality of the links on your page. The actual importance of any of these drivers to SERP ranking is unknown — Google keeps search algorithms secret (which might measure as many as 200 factors). However, there is one area that many site owners overlook, at least in terms of SEO: Their web host.

When looking for the best website host, most site owners focus on bandwidth, downtime, and cost. Those are certainly important considerations, but what many don’t realize is that the web host you choose could have a negative impact on your SEO efforts. That’s right: You could have the greatest site in the world that checks off all of the search algorithm boxes, and still suffer on the SERP.

Granted, it’s important to understand that Google has never overtly stated that choosing certain web hosts lead to penalties, nor does anyone really know exactly how much of an influence the host has on search rankings. However, there is enough evidence to show that at least on some level, where you choose to host your site makes a difference, especially in terms of the following 3 items.

1) Speed

Web users are not a patient group. According to research on loading time by Kissmetrics, 40 percent of users will abandon a page if it does not load within 3 seconds. The longer it takes a site to load, the more likely it is that the user will click away from the site — and that’s not good in Google’s opinion.

The speed and responsiveness of the site is an important factor in SERP rankings, with those sites that load quickly ranking above those that take longer. Some even suspect that bounce rate, the percentage of users who click on your site and leave immediately, influences your search rankings. Therefore, if your page takes too long to fully load and users move on, your bounce rate will skyrocket and your ranking will tank.

Also Check: 10 Successful Ways To Engage Your Site Visitors

Granted, there are factors other than the web host that can influence site speed, such as the plugins you have on the site, the amount of traffic the site receives, and even malware. That being said, your web host should have the bandwidth available to manage your traffic, even if you see a short-term spike thanks to a promotion or viral content. In addition, the host should have adequate security protections to prevent the malware and viruses that can infect the server and slow down page loading speed. Ideally, to meet user expectations, your site should load in 2 seconds or less.

2) Downtime


Web host downtime is a major concern for site owners for several reasons. First, obviously a site that’s not operational is not going to result in conversions. However, downtime also affects your SEO efforts. Google is constantly crawling to web and evaluating sites in order to return search results.

If your site is down when that happens, then your ranking will take a huge hit — if your site even appears at all. Sites that appear to have an abundance of errors and downtime have been deindexed, resulting in lost traffic to the site owner.

Most web hosting providers claim to offer 100 percent — or as close as possible to 100 percent — uptime. Do your homework before making a decision, and read reviews to determine how close that goal they really are. Once you’re up and running, invest in some website monitoring tools to identify and when possible correct site availability problems to prevent costly downtime.

Also Read: The 15 Best Free Tools for Your Search Optimization Needs

3) Host Location

Not everyone agrees that this is a factor in SEO, but there is evidence that the actual physical location of your server can make a significant difference in your rankings. This is especially relevant if you are doing a lot of local SEO, because the search engines appear to seek out locally hosted sites and place them higher than those located in another state, or even another country.

Even if localized search isn’t a major concern for you, keep in mind that website hosting servers that are located outside of the U.S. may face greater scrutiny than those inside the country, thanks to different rules regarding security and data protection. Bottom line? The closer to home your web host, the better, just to be on the SEO safe side.

Again, these factors aren’t confirmed by Google, but are widely believed to have influence on search engine rankings. Even if they do not, though, they are still important considerations and can affect your customers’ experiences and whether they return to your site or not.