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How does web hosting affect SEO and which is best?

How does web hosting affect SEO and which is best?

Today’s Style an SEO question comes from Julio in Houston, who asks:

“How does hosting affect SEO, and specifically what features to look for when hosting an affiliate site?”

This is a good question and I see a lot of misinformation about this on the internet.

Unfortunately, web hosting is a huge niche in the affiliate space. This means that there is a real incentive for people to write all kinds of articles and make all sorts of claims about how their hosting can help push your SEO across the border.

In fact, I did a quick Google search for some SEO hosting queries, and every result I found was from a site that also had hosting-related links on it.

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I promise you that there will be no hosting recommendations or affiliate links in this post.

The truth is that web hosting means very little to SEO. Now I can imagine what some of you are saying … and we’ll get to the things that matter below.

4 Web Hosting Factors That Can Affect SEO

You will want to consider these factors when choosing a web host as they can affect SEO in different ways.

Page speed

We all know that page speed is a ranking factor. How big a factor is still up for debate (despite Google saying it is one ‘teeny tiny’ factor) but that is not the question here.

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If you choose a small web host without the bandwidth you need, your speed may be affected. The type of plan you choose is also of great importance here.

For example, if you Having a major news site, you will not host a shared plan with limited bandwidth that cannot support news traffic.

You need to decide based on the needs of your site if you want shared hosting, a virtual private server, a dedicated server or a cloud-based scalable hosting solution.

All of these can be just fine for SEO, depending on what your site is doing and how much traffic / resources it needs.

2. Hosting Restrictions

Some web hosts have strange limitations. I had a client that hosts a platform that does not give them access to their own .htaccess files. They had a limit of 1,000 redirects they can do when in theory it should be unlimited.

Again, this does not necessarily affect SEO alone – but it can, depending on what you are trying to do with your site.

Make sure your host can handle all the normal, daily things you want to do on your site.

3. Location

With CDNs like Akamai and Cloudflare, host placement means a lot less these days than usual.

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Where this is still important, however, is on the legal side and international side. For example, if you Want to do business specifically in China or Russia, it is best to host the site in China or Russia.

If you want to do something that is illegal in some countries but not in others (like a bitcoin pool, or sports betting or criticizing some royalties), make sure you are not hosting in those countries.

Again, these things are not really SEO, but can definitely throw a wrench into your SEO plans.

4. Uptime

This is something we used to talk a lot about with hosting back in time with dial-up and T1 lines.

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It’s not really a big issue today with CDNS and layoffs and things like Microsoft Azure or Amazon cloud services.

Yes, parts of the internet and the cloud sometimes go down, and yes, you should choose a reliable hosting company that minimizes your downtime. However, this type of question is usually only temporary.

Things that do not really matter

One thing I constantly hear about is Class C IPs. This topic used to be super popular among spammers who wanted to hide their spam from Google.

The theory was that if they were all in the same hosting environment, Google could more easily find them. While there is some truth in that, I have found that there are many easier ways to uncover people’s spam networks that do not take into account noise and uncertainty about who may also be on your server.

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Analytics and ad tags, social widgets, themes, and HTML comments have all given people spam away before.

Google knows this, and they also know that you have no control over who else is hosting in your neighborhood – so they probably will not hold it against you.

One of my other pet peeves is “___ hosting”, where ___ is a platform like WordPress or Angular or React or AEM or Contentful or any CMS / framework you want to use.

Sure, some hosts specialize in it. However, if you know what you are doing, there is no reason why you should not choose your server setup with a good web host.

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You can control Windows / Linux or Cpanel / Plesk or any of the server software all the way down to the operating system, version of PHP and MySQL (or another language of choice) to get the optimal setup for what you need.

Now, if you are just starting out and do not want to manage a server (like me), you might want to take advantage of having a maintenance team that knows your choice of architecture to help you – but it’s not really an SEO decision.

More resources:

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Editor’s Note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO consulting column written by some of the industry’s best SEO experts, which has been hand-picked by the Search Engine Journal. Do you have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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