Some SEO ranking factors get all the attention while others get very little coverage. One of the least discussed factors that Google uses to determine which websites rank well and which don’t is your web host. There are several different ways that your webhost affects your SEO. Let’s take a look at how your webhost affects your ability to rank on the first page of Google as well as how you can easily see if your site is being damaged by these issues.
Google’s Noble Goal
Google (and the other search engines) want to provide the most relevant results for each and every search. There are several different ways that they measure how well they do in this regard. I’ll share two.
They count the clicks that each link on their search results page receives. Since they provide the most relevant links at the top of the page – clicks at the top of the search results let them know they did a good job while clicks on links that are lower in the search results let them know that they didn’t.
Another factor that they use to determine relevance for their search results is the activity that takes place after the link is clicked. If the search result that you click on did not provide the information that you were looking for, you will tend to click the back button in your browser and return to the search results page to search further. This kind of activity is called a bounce. In fact, Google Analytics actually reports the “Bounce Rate” for the different pages on your website.
Bounce Rates and SEO
Each page on your website has a bounce rate associated with it and this only represents a problem when this number gets too high. There are a lot of different factors that contribute to increasing or decreasing the bounce rate on a particular webpage and in general you should only be concerned about this if your bounce rate is higher than others in your industry.
Page Load Speed and Bounce Rates
In general there are two different factors that you have control over that can cause your website to load slowly. The first is that your pages have either very large files (think big pictures), or lots of smaller files on them. This can be fixed by optimizing your webpage so that it loads quickly. This is something that your webmaster should be able to do for you. If you want to see how quickly your webpage loads relative to other websites – you can use this free speed test to find out https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ I like this tool because it although it gives you lots of information, it presents it in an easy to understand format so that you don’t need to speak geek in order to make sense of the results.
The second factor that you have control over that can cause your website to load slowly is your choice of webhost.
Webhosting and SEO
Unless you’re paying hundreds of dollars monthly just for a dedicated server for your website, your website is sitting on a webserver along with lots of other websites. Usually webhosts consider the number of websites that they put on a server to be confidential and proprietary information so they won’t tell you if you ask. However, if you know how to speak geek and know where to look, this information is publicly available. Usually hosting companies pack hundreds of websites onto the same server. What this means for you is that if any of those websites gets an above average amount of usage, your website will likely be slowed down. If your website slows down only very rarely, your SEO won’t be impacted. If however your website is slowed down regularly either because of increased activity on your website or increased activity on any of the other websites on the same server, your website will be penalized by Google.
If your website goes offline or slows to a crawl with any regularity, you can be assured that this will have a negative impact on your Google rankings and you should start looking for a new web host right away.
I love the free Pingdom tool (https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/) because not only does it grade your website load time, it can also alert you when your site goes offline.
My Favorite Web Hosts
For those who don’t know, I owned and operated a website hosting company for 14 years. As a result of that experience, I tend to be very picky about where I host my website.
Personally I host my own website at two different hosting companies. I use one host as my primary host and the other host functions as a backup host. This is a low cost method of implementing an effective disaster recovery solution. If you have questions on how something like this could work for your business – just let me know and I can show you how to set this up or set it up for you.
Stormer Hosting – Stormer is a boutique hosting firm with great customer service. I’ve used them for years and know the owner of the company well. I highly recommend them for many of my clients – but that being said, they aren’t a great fit for everyone. Stormer may not be a good fit for you if your website is mission critical or you need to be able to speak to technical support outside of business hours. Pricing starts at less than $7.00/month.
BlueHost – BlueHost is a large hosting company with customer service and technical support available 24 x 7 x 365. If this is important to your business, BlueHost may be a great fit for you. Pricing starts at less than $7.00/month.
I use both Stormer and Bluehost to how my website and have had a very positive experience with both companies.
Take just a few minutes to see how quickly your site loads compared to other sites using this free speed test to find out https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ If you suspect that your host is hurting your Google rankings, switching to a new host can improve your search engine ranking.