Web hosting for SEO: Why it’s important
Great web hosting won't put your website at the top of the search results, but it's a prerequisite for strong SEO results. Here's why.
Want to know an easy way to speed up and improve the overall performance of your website?
Invest in good hosting.
Ignorance is no longer an excuse for any company to use a cheap web host.
Website performance is a critical element that can help improve your rankings, traffic and conversions.
This guide will cover everything you need to understand about why web hosting is important for SEO.
What is website hosting
A website hosting service provider, or web host, is a service that offers the technology required for a website to be viewed online.
Think of a web host as the home base of your website. Websites or webpages are stored on special computers called servers, and through the server your webpages get connected and delivered to internet browsers.
So, when users want to view your website, all they have to do is type your website address or domain into their browser.
When building a website, companies typically invest a lot of time and resources on design, development, digital marketing and SEO.
But web hosting is one area that tends to be an afterthought.
If you are willing to invest in making sure the website looks good and driving traffic to it, why not also ensure that the actual website is fast, functional and flexible?
Using a high-quality web host can maximize your conversion rates, along with other helpful benefits.
How web hosting benefits businesses
If you want a website for your business, then you will need a web host. Although web hosting is usually left at the back of a business’ mindset, it is crucial for your online presence.
A reliable web host can give your company a variety of benefits, such as:
- Improved site performance.
- Effective data management.
- Enhanced security.
- High uptime.
In short, investing in a reliable web host is wise – and should help grow your business.
Expected features from hosting providers
Web hosts offer more than just web hosting services for businesses. Web host firms offer multiple services that ensure a hassle-free experience for business owners and to make sure their only focus is the time and energy spent on their business.
Here are some features you should expect from a good web hosting provider:
- Email accounts: Hosting providers will require users to create their own domain name. Domain names and email accounts will be one of the features provided.
- FTP access: FTP allows you to upload files from a local computer to the web server. Your website will be accessible through the internet, with files transferred from your computer straight to the server using this feature. FTP access is critical for web developers.
- WordPress support: WordPress, which powers nearly half of the websites on the internet, is a convenient way to create and manage your website content.
- Enhanced security: Many hosting providers, such as WPEngine, now provide complimentary SSL certificates with their hosting services.
Most popular web hosts
Popular web hosting companies include:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud Platform
- 1&1 IONOS
- Hetzner Online
- Liquid Web
- WP Engine
Why web hosting is important for SEO
When it comes to SEO, Google strives to deliver the best possible results for its users.
This means that a strong and reliable web host will lay the foundation for your SEO efforts.
Google looks at several factors to ensure the user has a positive experience after using their search engine. Websites that work faster with improved UX can get a rankings boost.
SEO is a huge focus for nearly all businesses and brands today. Everyone wants their site listed on the first page of Google for relevant search queries.
Websites that fail to rank on Page 1 of Google likely won’t be found. As the saying goes, “the best place to hide a website is the second page of Google.”
There are three main reasons why web hosting is important for SEO: speed, security and location.
Looking at it from a practical standpoint, speed is an extremely important factor for SEO.
A slow and cheap web host will result in a slow website. The domino effect is that it would result in poor rankings, low organic traffic, and minimal leads.
What’s the solution?
A good web host will have high speeds, which will decrease the load time of your pages.
When determining how fast a website should load in 2022, it should always be as fast as possible. Google’s benchmark for the ideal time for mobile speed is two seconds or less.
A 2022 study showed average loading time for mobile-sites was around 4.5 seconds. For 20% of the analyzed mobile landing pages, the visual content took longer than 6.6 seconds to load.
Considering that speed equals revenue, this is still far too slow.
Tools for Measuring Page Speed
Need to measure your page speeds? Use these helpful tools:
- Google Page Speed Insights
Target Metrics for Websites
The Core Web Vitals report is what shows how your webpages perform based on real world usage data, which is also referred to as “field data.”
With the Core Web Vitals, the URL performance is shown by status, metric type, and URL group.
Core Web Vitals are based on three metrics:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): This shows the amount of time it takes to render the largest element of visible content in the viewpoint from the moment when the user requests the URL. The largest element of content is typically an image or video, or large block text. This metric is important because it informs the user that the URL is loading.
- FID (First Input Delay): This shows the time from when the user interacts with the website by clicking on the link to the time in which the browser responds to the action. This metric is important since it is when the page becomes interactive.
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): This measures the sum total of all the individual layout shifts for every unexpected layout shift. This takes place during the entire lifespan of the page. The measurement can range from zero, which implies no shifting at all, to any positive number. The rest of the numbers indicate how much the layout shifts. This metric is important because it creates a bad user experience if the user experiences a layout shift while interacting with the website.
Without a strong security system for your website, it can suffer from detrimental issues such as hackers, spam pages, and fake backlinks.
All of these things can harm your Google rankings – and potentially result in a manual action.
There is also the risk of your site getting infected with malware, which could potentially result in your site getting blacklisted by search engines or showing a security warning in the search results.
If you don’t use a web host with a strong security system, it could negatively impact your SEO efforts.
One feature that web host providers may offer is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This is a security certificate that is the standard technology for keeping the internet connection secure.
Another plus side of strong security comes from reliable tech support and customer service. As a company, you want to ensure that the web host you’re using has top quality tech support and customer service.
If something is too slow or the site crashes, you can get it solved quick and efficiently. A strong tech and customer support team will ease any worries or panic if your site ever goes down.
Location is an important factor in the SEO of your website. Search engines will look at location-based signals into consideration when searching for optimal results.
Some questions to consider:
- Where is the user?
- Where is the business?
- Where is the site located?
All of these are practical reasons for where your website will be hosted. It plays a role in determining how far the data must travel, and its speed.
For example, if your business is located within the United States, you want your website to be located in the U.S. data center. If your company is in the United Kingdom, then you would want the site to be in a UK data center.
If your business operates globally, you will want a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that offers hubs around the world, so the hosting is fast regardless of the user’s location.
Using a cheap web host can result in not being placed in a local data center. This can potentially negative impact your website, including how the site performs for your users and your organic search rankings.
Which web hosting service should you use?
All hosting platforms have their benefits – but to be blunt, some really stink.
So how exactly should you choose a reliable service?
You can look for the following factors:
- Length of the web hosts’ experience
- Reputation among other clients/companies
- Seeking a web host that offers security measures such as SSL
Why WP Engine is (almost always) my recommendation
We have worked with (and still work with) clients on a variety of hosting platforms.
But when it comes down to which is the best, I almost always suggest WP Engine.
In my experience with WP Engine:
- Their customer service is incredibly responsive, helpful and always available.
- Their security and speed are second to none.
- They conduct daily backups in the unlikely event the website were to go down.
The cost of WP Engine is extremely reasonable. The beginner package (which is great for most website) at only $23/month.
The speed and performance of this hosting platform is tremendous and really aids your efforts as you optimize the site for mobile-speed and core web vitals.
Furthermore, WP Engine also provides a free SSL certificate to their members, even further beefing up the website’s security and meeting Google’s known-standards.
Working with WP Engine has allowed me to focus on my SEO work and less on server and performance issues that may be associated with a weaker hosting service.
Educating your clients/stakeholders on the value of good hosting
Your clients or stakeholders are already investing so much into creating a successful website (content, SEO, etc.)
Picking the wrong web host could undermine all of those other investments.
Picking the right web host can almost instantly improve your speed, Core Web Vitals and standing.
If your website has poor web hosting, it runs the risk of negatively affecting your SEO.
Your site could suffer from downtime, which is about as bad of a user experience as someone could have.
If the web host is slow, it is more likely that the user will leave your page and switch to another option.
Load time equates to reputation. And any website that takes longer than a few seconds to load will lose users (which means fewer conversions and less revenue).
Think of it like this: if you purchased a new Bentley (new website), you wouldn’t want it to have the engine of a Kia Soul (slow web host/server). (I drive a Kia Soul, so certainly not a dig!)
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.