5 web hosting factors that can affect your website’s SEO

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Once you have the best web hosting for your new site and have used one of the best website builders to create it, search engine optimization (SEO) is key to keeping your site front and center. and well classified. In the modern world, you always have to be on your SEO game in order to keep visitor traffic to your site.

SEO means tailoring your site and its content, so that the site can rank as high as possible in Google, Bing, or Yahoo! Search results. Your ideal scenario is that when someone searches for a keyword relevant to your business, your site is the first link to appear on the screen.

However, while a large portion of a website’s SEO score is derived from content, web hosting plays a vital role. Here we outline the five most important web hosting factors to consider that can either make or break the organic traffic coming to your website.

1. Slow website speed

an iPhone with a loading screen

Slow website speeds end up costing you in SEO (Image credit: Avenir)

No one likes to wait for a web page to load. In fact, waiting is so hated on the internet that major search engines like Google factor your site’s load speed into your SEO score. Sites that take longer than a few seconds to load are penalized, while sites that load instantly see their search results increase.

So, choosing a hosting provider that can give visitors a fast experience is essential for your page ranking. If you can afford it, consider upgrading to the best VPS hosting or the best cloud hosting from slower shared hosting. This is especially important if you have more than a few thousand visitors to your site each month.

Also, make sure that your web host’s data center is located close to your audience. The more data needs to be transmitted back and forth, the longer your website will take to load. You might also consider setting up page caching with your host or using a content delivery network (CDN).

That said, be sure to take a look at your website content before blaming your host for the slow loading. Large images, poorly constructed plugins, and even sloppy HTML and JavaScript can all weigh down your site and hurt your SEO score.

2. Website downtime

The only thing worse than a slow site is a site that doesn’t load at all. Downtime is almost always caused by problems with your host⁠ — it could be due to a hardware failure, an overloaded server, a security breach, or something else.

Unfortunately, your website’s SEO performance can drop even if your site is offline for a few minutes at a time. Google and other search engines may flag your website as unreliable. If the downtime lasts for several days instead of a few minutes, Google may completely remove your site from search results.

When choosing a web hosting provider, check if they offer an uptime guarantee and quality. A 99% uptime guarantee means your site may still be down for several days each year, but a 99.99% guarantee means your site will only be down for a few minutes each year.

3. Failed to connect to the database

laptop on the desk displaying coding language

You need to make sure your site is cached in case it gets overloaded with traffic (Image credit: Christopher Gower)

If you and your visitors see a warning message stating “Internal Server Error” or “Database Connection Failed”, it is because your server has been overloaded with traffic. It won’t hurt your SEO score as much as your website is completely offline, but it can increase your site’s bounce rate.

In the short term, you can create a cached copy of your site or popular pages so that visitors don’t actually need to log into the database stored at your web host. On WordPress, the easiest way to do this is to use a free plugin called WP Super Cache.

In the long run, however, you’ll want to consider upgrading your hosting plan. Database errors are a result of you simply not having enough bandwidth to handle all of your traffic. Ask your hosting provider to upgrade to a VPS or cloud hosting plan.

4. Use shared hosting services with spammers

While it’s not a common problem, sharing your server with websites and email addresses that contain spam can actually hurt your website’s search rankings. When search engines penalize websites with spam, they penalize every site using that IP address, which may include your website if you are using a shared hosting plan.

If you are concerned that this could be a cause of poor SEO performance, this is easy to check. Enter your URL in the Reverse IP Domain Check tool to see who else is using your IP address.

5. Incorrect TLD

man working at computer with two monitors

Make sure your website URL is using a top level domain, so visitors can find it easily (Image credit: Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash)

If possible, make sure your website URL uses a .com TLD (top level domain). For better or worse, this is what people assume you are using when they search for your website. If your website address ends in .net or .co (a Colombian TLD, not a smart alternative to .com!), Visitors will have a hard time finding your site.

The sad reality is that most of the best .com website names have been taken, so there is a trade-off here. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your website name is short and memorable, and your TLD isn’t too obscure if you can’t acquire a .com address.

Web Hosting Factors: Conclusion

Managing your website’s SEO is a big job that never seems to end. While a large portion of your site’s SEO score is derived from your content, it’s important to keep an eye out for hosting factors that can have a disproportionate impact on your search rankings. By taking the time to choose the best hosting provider for your site, you can eliminate many of these potential SEO problems right off the bat.

Further reading on SEO and domain names

To learn more about SEO and websites, check out our articles listing nine SEO tips that can improve your Google rankings and how web hosting affects SEO. To learn more about domain names, read our articles examining how to choose a domain name and what small businesses should consider when registering a domain name.


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