Hosting server location for website SEOWith more than a thousand web-hosting companies out there providing the same services at similar prices. If you want to get it right the first time. It is a very tricky job to choose a web-host suited to your need. While considering your options more often than not, the location of your host server becomes a point of debate; whether to go for localized web-hosts or overseas one. In the world of cloud computing today, online collaboration from anywhere and at any time on the earth can easily be done. Though server location seems to be somewhat insignificant and localized. But, web hosting is relevant to SEO and user experience, the choice is always a tricky one. Here, we will try and look at how the hosting server can affect your website’s SEO. But before we do that, let us first see how it affects the speed of a website and its ramifications.
Impact of Server Location on Website SpeedWhenever a user loads or opens a website, it passes from the data centre or host server. Farther to the user via a passage of interconnected networks also known as the internet. The data is transferred through the fastest and most efficient path to reach the destination. A lot of networks use fibre-optic cables to transfer data at the speed of light (approximately 3 x 10^8 m/s). And then the user only experiences a delay of 10 milliseconds for every 1000 km distance travelled by the data. This is very negligible a delay in user experience. However, while speaking of server location and website speed! The easiest solution for getting the maximum speed is always to host the server close to your visitors as possible. This means that if your websites target users from only one country it is most advisable to host the server in that country. But the story is different when your websites are targeting visitors from all around the world. In such a case the websites need to use Content Delivery Network (CDN) in order to operate efficiently.
The study shows that the average user is not patient enough to wait for slow-loading websites and as such abandons the website. Servers take a certain amount of time to receive and process a request from a visitor and this is known as its latency. This latency increases for servers on a different country or continent from the user. Another research shows that slow loading websites are not good for business. Amazon claims that a page slowdown by even 1 second can cost them up to $1.6 billion in sales each year. Yet another study shows that 53% of mobile users abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to render. Also, Google is known to consider loading speeds while ranking search results; thus a loading time of more than a few seconds can prompt Google to lower your page rankings in the SERPs.
How Search Engines see Server LocationsNowadays choosing the same location for your host server as that of your target audience is not as important as it used to be. This is because; search engines like Google, Bing, etc. are now allowing website owners to set a target country in their webmaster tools. If the website using a country TLD (like, .uk for the United Kingdom) cannot choose a target country as the TLD itself does that job. However, for websites using TLDs like .com or.org, etc. the owner needs to set a target country in the webmaster tools. If not done so, the search engines will carry on selection based on other criteria such as server IP address. And any information about location available in the web-content (like contact info, content snippets, etc.), backlinks to the page. Also any other SEO relevant information. Thus, say your server is located in the States and your website is meant for users in Portugal, then you will absolutely need to set ‘Portugal’ in Google webmaster tools as your target country or for that matter in any other search engine webmaster tools. It is not necessary to host your server in Portugal, but if you are using a .pt domain this won’t be necessary at all. However, if your visitors are located all over the world, the server does not matter in that case. All you need to do then is to make sure that your web host can provide your website with some sort of CDN or content delivery network to spread your content.
Impact of Localized Web-hosting on SEOAccording to Google, the server’s location plays a very insignificant role in geo-targeting. This is because geo-targeting is at the TLD itself; either a country-code TLD (.uk, .es, etc.) or a generic TLD (.com, .org, etc.) along with Webmaster tools. Thus, we see that the host server location does not matter much.
However, they do recommend setting up the server at a location that will give faster access for the users. We have already discussed that server latency and response time plays a crucial role in SEO. Localized hosting is most preferred for its direct effects on SEO. Page load speed also plays an important role in SEO ranking for Google as well as the other search engines. This is simply because of the faster load time of a website guarantees a better user experience. Thus, localized hosting and IP geolocation are important for a website to improve its rankings in SERPs as well as SEO. We have seen how server location can affect your SEO, page ranking and page load speed. We have also seen how using Webmaster Tools can ease your server location troubles. Still, it is advisable to host your server at such a location so that it gives your visitors ease of use.