Probably one of the most important yet overlooked aspect of any good SEO is the very host your site resides on. Not only can your host effect whether or not your site is available to your customers but, over the long-term, it can also help determine where your site places in Google and other search engine rankings due to a number of factors that are becoming more and more important as time goes on.
The first, and probably most obvious affect your host can have on your SEO has to do with reliability. Simply put, if your site is not available it won’t be ranked. While nearly all hosts today offer some sort of uptime guarantee the fact is that few seem to be able to live up to it. In some cases it is even possible for your host to simply shut your site off completely for a violation of terms or simply for getting too busy (that is why I left my last host). Once Google sees your site is down a few times it will quickly become harder for you to rank higher in their search results so a little planning can go a long way.
Make sure when you sign up for hosting that you do not purchase too far in advance if you’re planning on growing your site. If you’re getting a shared plan it won’t be long before you are experiencing limits or having your site turned off for hitting all together. On more expensive plans make sure the host you’re using is reputable. Even some have the big names in VPS and cloud hosting have been plagued by problems. For any plan make sure you keep your data backed up and always be ready to switch hosts on a moments notice. Finally, make sure you sign up with a service like Pingdom that will alert you (for free) when your site is down for any reason.
When talking about SEO speed matters. Faster sites will simply be given more weight by Google than slow sites. If you’re on shared hosting, or for that matter any type of hosting, the speed at which your site loads can be greatly affected. In some cases this is intentional as some shared hosting companies will intentionally slow your site if they feel you are using too many of their resources. In other cases it might be another account on your server is using too much or simply an overloaded data center than can cause your site to load slower than you could have delivered the information by carrier pigeon.
As with reliability, check out your host before you buy any plan and be willing to leave if things slow down. I’ve moved on from a number of shared hosts when the speed began to suffer as I was either throttled or the once speedy server I was on began to collect too many accounts. Most importantly, make sure you know how fast your site is loading at all times. There are a number of free tools to help you with this, but none of them will be any help if you don’t test your site on a regular basis.
While this is more important for email marketing than Google rankings, as for many sites email can drive traffic it can still be just as important.
Some web hosts are simply known for the amount of spam their customers send from their servers and as such many of the major email services will blacklist any mail coming from them as spam. This is particularly tricky in shared hosting where the host has little reason to care what their customers are sending over the internet.
To tackle this problem, as with any problem in this article, requires diligence. In this case check regularly to see if your server is blacklisted and be willing to move if it is. You can try to get the blacklist label removed but from experience this is often an exercise in futility as the server will just get blacklisted again quickly while the problem continues.
Have you experienced SEO issues due to your web host? I want to hear your story. Please tell me about it in the comment section below.