Many business owners focus so much on the aesthetic appeal of their website because they think that’s what will attract new customers. But all the money spent on design isn’t worth a thing if your site isn’t being found.
Hopefully by now you already understand the importance of content. But are you thinking about the backend work that ensures your website gets ranked by search engines? An important place to start is with the quality of your web host.
Web hosting is an often overlooked, yet critical, factor in determining your website’s SEO rankings.
You know how you always see those 99.9% uptime callouts on web hosting companies? There’s a reason for that.
The quality of your web host is a key determinant in how accessible your website actually is. The poorer the host quality, the more often your website is will be down, which can damage your SEO rankings. On the other hand, if your website is accessible virtually all of the time — especially when Google crawls it — it’s more likely to be found in relevant searches.
Remember that the amount of downtime your website experiences can fluctuate fairly frequently. Make sure you’re monitoring your site’s uptime, and contact your host if you have any concerns.
Your website’s page load speed affects SEO rankings. The internet is a competitive place, and people are no longer willing to wait to see the content on a slow site. You can control some of the factors affecting the speed of your website, such as coding and content, but much of it depends on your host. Just like downtime, speed fluctuates, so check your website’s load time often to see if there are any significant or concerning changes. Some host-related factors that you can check on include the type of hard drive technology, availability of a content delivery network (CDN), and whether the hosting is optimized for your content management system, such as WordPress.
If you’re sure you’ve done everything right on your end but are still experiencing slow loading times for your website, don’t just drop your web hosting company! Try contacting your web developer and your web host and ask if they can help or if there are any VPS options or dedicated server upgrades available to improve your website’s performance.
HostGator customers can test their server’s upload and download speed here.
3. IP Location
The physical location of your web host can have an impact on your SEO rankings. Search engines may rank websites with IP addresses in the same country as the company higher than ones based in other countries. So try to find a site host with servers in your country to boost your website’s SEO potential.
IP location can also affect your website’s speed. If you’re targeting users in a different country from the one where your host server is located, those users are likely to experience slower loading times, which can have an adverse impact on your website’s success.
Poor website security can be truly detrimental to your site’s SEO. Attackers can hack your website, create spam pages, and generate massive amounts of fake backlinks to your site — just the sort of thing Google loves to penalize. By the time you successfully identify the fraudulent page and have it removed, Google will likely have already imposed the penalty and the damage will have been done.
Poor security also increases the chances that your website could get infected with malware, which can lead to your site being blacklisted by search engines or showing a security warning in the search results. Before choosing a web host, be sure they have security technology options available and malware removal support to defend your site from attackers.
HostGator customers can use SiteLock to scan and defend against hackers, malware, and other vulnerabilities.
5. HTTPS / SSL Support
More and more websites are moving toward using https to protect user data in its web traffic. Because of this, Google has specifically stated that SSL is an SEO ranking factor. It’s still a minor ranking factor for the moment, and therefore shouldn’t have too strong an impact, but it increasingly looks like it will become more important in the near future.
If you want to move your website from HTTP to HTTPS, check with your web hosting company to get their specific TSL/SSL certificates. From there, you’ll want to find a checklist of what you need to do to ensure that your website is fully operating in HTTPS. If it sounds intimidating, rest assured — these lists are fairly easy to find and will help you make the switch seamlessly.
6. Tech Support
When your website goes down, time suddenly comes to a standstill and panic sets in. These moments will reveal your web host’s true character. Make sure your host has 24/7 tech support help available (HostGator does!). If you want to go even further, investigate the experience of your host’s support staff. This way, if disaster strikes, you’ll know you have a dedicated and capable support team ready to come to your rescue.
Your web hosting plays a major role in determining whether your site’s SEO is a boom or a bust. Making an informed decision and regularly checking your hosting quality is not only a good way to increase your search result rankings, but it ensures your users have an excellent experience on your site and keep coming back for more.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and bestselling author Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, The Referral Engine, and SEO for Growth which he co-wrote with Phil Singleton, CEO of Kansas City Web Design®. Jantsch is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.