It all goes back to SEO. Your choice of web hosting will either enhance or kill your website’s SEO strategies. Which means that before you choose a web host, you must evaluate the features offered and how the features present (or absent) will impact your SEO strategy.
Today, we look at shared web hosting and how it affects SEO and your overall ranking in search engines.
A web host, in the simplest terms, refers to the place or service that houses your blog or website.
It could be viewed as the place where your website lives, and when a user searches for content on the internet and comes across your web page, it is because your web page files are stored in the host’s servers and that is where they are accessible from.
The servers are supercomputers with operating systems, powerful CPUs, memory, and other storage components. Often, the components and the power of the server will determine how fast users access your web content.
Web hosting providers primarily own the servers we speak about.
Even though the web hosting companies you are considering promise to provide the best web hosting service, the hosting that is just right for your business website or personal blog, the hosting plans and the types of hosting provided will differ significantly.
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When it comes to shared web hosting which is marketed as the best web hosting option for beginners, you and several other website owners (perhaps thousands) share a server.
With thousands of websites attracting traffic online housed from one home, competition for available resources is inevitable.
So, even if the web host allocates a specific amount of bandwidth, disk, and storage space, these shared resources or your quota might not be enough to meet the growing needs of your visitors.
As a result, shared web hosting could impact your ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs).
Because of the sharing of already limited resources, website performance and even speed are significantly affected and this could lower your ranking. Also, the shared environment could increase the security risk on your website.
The most common shared web hosting solutions include Windows and Linux shared hosting.
And your choice over one of these solutions depends on the developmental platform you are using for your website, as well the coding language used.
If you have an ASP.NET website, you have to opt for the shared Windows hosting.
So, Yes. Shared web hosting will affect your site’s ranking, especially if you receive traffic spikes.
However, you shouldn’t be worried about being on the shared hosting plan if your blog/ website is new and not receiving a lot of traffic, or if yours is a static brochure site.
Shared hosting also works well for test and development sites and personal blogs.
Wondering how your web host affects search engine rankings?
Well, your web host determines the accessibility of your website and level of user satisfaction rendered. These two factors are, in turn, determined by your website’s loading speed and security.
Below is a look of the most important SEO ranking factors that are determined by your web hosting provider:
1. Page Loading Time
Websites that take a long time to load because of shared hosting will negatively affect your ranking.
According to the search engine giant Google, page load speed is one of the top technical SEO factors that you need to consider when optimizing your website.
It, therefore, means that even if you employ the best SEO strategies like reducing the size of your images or adding plugins to increase loading time, the wrong web hosting could still damage your website’s ranking.
Also note that for the longest time, page speed has been regarded as one of the leading SEO ranking factors.
To reinforce their intentions of making page speed a top ranking factor, Google announced an algorithm (search engine) update in June 2018.
The update focused on Google’s intention to use mobile page speed as one of its ranking factors. With the update came the knowledge that slow-loading mobile sites would be penalized.
You could check your mobile website’s page speed with Google’s speed testing tool. For your website, use the Google Page Speed Tool
If you are on a shared web hosting plan, you will realize that your website’s loading speeds are quite low.
You could also look at the page speed in terms of bounce rates. With high bounce rates because of slow-loading, your website doesn’t look good in Google’s eyes (crawling bots).
The other downside of slow-loading pages and the high bounce rate is the reduction of your page’s conversion rate.
Besides access to server resources, hosting affects search engine ranking in terms of your hosting provider’s IP location.
If you didn’t know, the physical location of your web hosting provider has a significant effect on SEO rankings.
It’s been shown that the websites whose IP addresses are located in the same country or proximity with the web host’s IP addresses rank higher than far-away IP addresses.
Therefore, before you choose that web host offering affordable web hosting, you need to ensure that the host has servers in your location.
And there’s more: the location of your IP address will affect your web pages loading speeds unless your web host uses CDN. Unfortunately, the shared server might be too far from your online visitors resulting in slow-loading speeds and lower ranking.
2. Accessibility and Security
Is your URL right?
Will it be accessible and crawlable by Google’s bots?
Will Google understand what your website is about?
Using the robots.txt file, Google knows where to find specific information and also where it cannot find your web content.
Your URL also needs a sitemap to list all the web pages on your website. Your web host influences these factors to an extent.
Also on security is a lightweight ranking factor, HTTPS. With HTTPS on your URL, your website looks more credible and secure.
For HTTPS URL, you need an SSL certificate which is to be provided by your web host. In shared hosting, access to free SSL certificates might be limited.
On security and shared web hosting, we also need to address the risk your website faces when housed in a server shared with thousands of other websites.
The shared environment might have malicious sites, and in close proximity, your website could be compromised.
Also, the shared web hosting means limited access to the best security features, backups, or DDoS attack prevention solutions.
3. Server’s Downtime
For your web visitors to enjoy their experience on your website, they need to access your site at all times.
Otherwise, finding out that your website is offline most of the time will not only dampen their experience but could also result in low ranking because of negative reviews and complaints.
If your web host’s servers are down more times than you’d like, your ranking will dip.
The relationship between downtime and ranking?
Well, when your website is down, it doesn’t show up on search engines. And when the search engine receives a query on content relatable to your website’s content, you will not be there.
The glitch, even when short-lived, will degrade all your SEO efforts. And as mentioned above, it will increase your website’s bounce rates, hurting your website’s authority in the process.
While you wish to avoid downtime, a traffic spike could mean depletion of the resources you are allocated.
If your site crashes because your shared web host server cannot handle what’s going on in your website, everything around you suffers. You should, therefore, consider web hosts who promise an uptime of at least 99.9 percent.
That said, below are the other SEO-friendly features you should look for in a web hosting provider:
Options: A SEO-friendly web host offers a wide range of options like automatic backups to help you get your website back up after a malicious attack or if the servers are down; SSL certificates to enhance the security of your website; multiple web hosting plans to meet the needs of your website as and when you grow.
Customer Support: website access and server issues must be fixed as soon as they are detected. For this to happen, you need to engage a web host whose technical support team is easily accessible and fast acting. In shared hosting, fast customer support might be a luxury which could leave your website offline even for hours. And as mentioned above, being offline will result in poor ranking and low conversion rates.
Despite the negative effects that arise from using shared web hosting, it is important to note that shared hosting is not always bad, especially if your website attracts low volume traffic.
But, to be on the safe side and to boost your ranking on SERPs, get hosting from a reliable hosting provider, employ the best CDN, and ensure that your website is well-optimized.
Finally, remember that you could rank low when on the shared hosting plan if some of your neighbors are penalized or if they are spammy – when sharing a server, you’ll be sharing an IP address with several other websites.