Google has been updating its algorithm every 6 months and adjusting some of its ranking factors related to the quality of your web hosting. Below, we’ll look at which aspects of your web hosting package affect your website’s ranking and explain why it’s important to understand this.
The loading speed of your websites is very important to the search engines as it improves the customer experience. Google knows that slow loading Websites have a much higher abandonment rate because users are impatient and don’t want to wait for the site to load. This is why the slower a website loads, the less likely it is that Google will include it in the results because it looks bad (Google). Websites need to perform fast on both mobile and PC. Website loading times are considered an important feature for Google.
While there are other factors that can affect page loading speed, such as image optimization, caching, compression, and minification, ultimately your server’s performance is critical. It is important to choose a web host that uses powerful servers, SSD drives, fast connectivity and one that is not shared by thousands of other users. Better yet, upgrade to a more powerful solution such as VPS, Cloud or dedicated server.
It’s more concerning to Google than sending users to slow-loading websites, but sending them to sites that are offline. It is not in Google’s best interest to send users to sites that are not available, it paints a negative image on them and people may look to alternative search engines. That’s why Google keeps track of how long a website has been online and uses that as part of its ranking algorithm.
There are many reasons why your site could go offline. Some of these are related to things you do on your site, like putting it in maintenance mode or causing it to crash by installing incompatible software or making coding errors. Other reasons include operating system upgrades, software patches, and plugin updates.
However, with some hosting solutions, the time your website goes offline can be due to running hardware that is outdated, unreliable and keeps breaking down. Your web host server may be running out of resources and the server just can’t handle the amount of traffic. In these cases, it may affect the site’s position.
To protect yourself, make sure your web host offers guaranteed uptime, backed by a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The minimum you should be looking for is 99.95% uptime. If you need 100% uptime, then you should choose a cloud hosting solution.
Data has to travel from A to B (from the server to your PC/mobile) and the further it has to travel, the longer it takes. We have all seen on TV the interviews with people in say America from the UK and the delays in answering questions. This is exactly the same with Servers; it’s known as “latency”, which makes your server respond more slowly to requests from a user’s browser and thus reduces site speed.
Ideally, therefore, you need a server that is geographically closer to where most of your users are located. However, some web hosts store their data all over the world, mostly in huge US data centers. Even if the company is based in the UK, the servers can be located anywhere.
It is therefore extremely important that if your user base is predominantly European, you ensure that your servers are physically located in a European data center with high-speed connectivity.
You will see the importance of an SSL certificate in one of my previous articles
The padlock icon displayed in browsers is a clear sign of how seriously Google takes security. The last thing it wants is to send users to sites where their financial or personal information is at risk of being intercepted due to an insecure connection between the browser and the website.
Today, the security of that connection is essential to perform well in search engine results. Google Chrome shows a ‘Not Secure’ warning in the browser bar of websites without an SSL certificate. Google implemented this in July 2018. Google also gives a small ranking boost to sites that use SSL.
It is important that your web hosting server offers SSL. There are different types of SSL certificates and which one you need will depend on the level of security required by your organization.
Less well-known and suitable for many websites, that is a basic Domain Validated SSL that is now available for free from the certificate authority Let’s Encrypt. However, many web hosts prevent this, forcing customers to purchase alternative SSLs and pay an annual fee for using them.
In its pursuit of providing better services to its users, Google pushes websites to up their game. From a web hosting standpoint, this means a site that loads quickly on all devices, has minimal latency, is reliably online 99.5% of the time or more, and offers secure, encrypted connections. Websites with these things will find themselves better positioned by Google’s algorithm.