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Does Site Hosting Affect Google rankings



Does Site Hosting Affect Google rankings

After planning and developing a website the next part is to host it on the Internet. Hosting is indeed an issue to spend time on but a question arises: should you look at it with an SEO eye or not? Website owners should be concerned with search engine optimization as much as they are with prices and features when considering web hosting.

Does choosing a host provider makes any difference in rankings at search engines? If you submit your site repeatedly to Google but it still is not indexed, then you might think your hosting provider could be responsible.

There is a strong belief that for a website to rank high, it must have a unique IP address. However, this idea doesn’t seem necessary because these days most of the websites are hosted on shared IPs. On a single computer many servers run side by side and serve different domains from single IPs.

If you look at any SEO forum, you will see several topics old and new trying to talk about web hosting concerns as well as name server issues. The question people have in mind is close to, “A ‘cheap’ web hosting company hosts my site, but by the price of it, also may be hosting spammers, scam sites or other banned sites like gambling or porn. Does that affect my rank and does it risk my website?”

The answer in plain words is yes and no. It may affect you to some extent, and no it may not affect you in other concerns. Read in detail below.

If there is virtual shared IP hosting on the server, and Google penalizes the server and IP due to spamming, then your website could also be banned or otherwise penalized. Another situation can be that your site resides on a server that also hosts adult content, and Google can theoretically ban you both.

But it can’t be taken for granted that your site would be banned for being on a “blacklisted” server, if your content is acceptable. But to be on the safer side certain points should be clear when hiring a web host.

Host should be up 24/7

For proper website services it must be up 100% of time so that users aren’t looking at blank pages. Similarly, search engines have no specific times that they will come to a website for crawling, so your site must be up at all times in order to make search engines happy. Even if the Googlebot encounters a 404 error it will come again in the next crawl, but be on the safer side ensure 100% uptime of your site.

Yes, all hosts take time for maintenance tasks, but they should inform their clients that for a certain time of the work so you can plan accordingly. But if your host does not inform you and you browse your site and see a 404 error, then it might be time to consider moving to a new host. This is so important because Google is believed to have a smaller crawl daily and a deep crawl once a month, which implies that Googlebot can come anytime. So your website must be ready to receive this welcome guest.

Clean record

Google should have a good and clean record for your host, but there is no mechanism to know that. However, as a tip, web hosts that are very popular and used by large websites could be trusted rather than unpopular ones. Have a look at http://support.easystreet.com/abuse/banned_ip.html. For example, host Company X could offer very good and reasonable packages, but a website hosted on it could face problems with optimizing for Altavista if this host has been banned by AV, so your site may miss the traffic coming from this popular search engine. But such cases are rare - in a nutshell look for the prominent and reputable names in this field.

Virtual shared IPs

Virtual shared IP is a system by which a web server uses the same IP address for different domains. Instead of having new computer for a server, multiple virtual servers are made to reside on the same computer. Some web hosts can host 2,000 domains on a single IP address; it all depends on the processing power and resources available to the server and the quality of service that the host wishes to provide to its clients.

In this case the web page fed to the search engines would be very slow. However virtual shared hosting is a common scene as being a cheap and reliable option and mostly accepted by engines especially Google. Google does not ban sites by virtue of their sharing an IP address with a misbehaving site. In the words of Craig Silverstein of Google at an interview:

“Actually, Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. If your ISP does virtual hosting correctly, you'll never see a difference between the two cases. We do see a small percentage of ISPs every month that misconfigure their virtual hosting, which might account for this persistent misperception.”

This makes it quite clear that Google does not penalize a site on account of virtual hosting if it is configured the proper way.

Intelligent domain selection

Domain name selection should be very cunning and wise, if your website has to serve a local market. For example, if it’s the United Kingdom then a .uk domain is viable, and if the website is intended for a global market then a top level domain of .com is preferred. Domain selection will directly affect the ranking of your website at Google, say, if a UK-based shoe company has .uk domain it would rank higher for UK shoes search, otherwise the competition is very much for general ones.

URL restructuring

Maintaining the proper structure of your URLs is also important, as search engines face problems while indexing dynamic URLs (meaning, URLs that have many parameters or long query strings). Google is considered to be happy only with one or two parameters; if there are more parameters, then it could be more difficult for the site to be indexed.

Try to convert your dynamic pages to static ones, or let the server do it for you to reduce the number of parameters in the URL. Apache is the most popular web server and employs a special “rewrite” module that allows you to convert dynamic long URLs to search engine friendly web addresses. This module (mod_rewrite) is not installed by default on the server, but many hosting companies can easily install it. Once it is installed it can convert the following dynamic URL http://www.ittips.com/index.php?page=index_v2&id=632&c=13
into http://www.ittips.com/computersindex_v2-632-13.htm

The new URL is more SEO friendly and desired by crawlers. Ensure that your host has this module working to enjoy the benefits.

Conclusion

Hosting should not be the largest concern you have in an SEO program, but there are certain exceptions to that. Hosts can be penalized by Google for content reasons, and this may affect your site’s performance. It is also preferable to look for individual IP address so that risk of index removal is minimized.

Another thing that can be inferred is that sites hosted by free web hosts may not rank highly at Google for the most competitive keywords because of the obvious reason that free sites are mostly prone to depleted content. In a nutshell, you must be thorough in picking your web host and always clarify all issues before selecting one. These small considerations can make you safe for your further plans toward search engine optimization.

 


About the Author

Nakul Goyal has degrees in Master of Sciences in Information Technology from Panjab University, Chandigarh and a Bachelor of Computer Applications from Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, India. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional, a Brainbench Certified 'MVP' (Most Valuable Professional), Brainbench Certified Internet professional and a CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) Associate. Website: http://www.nakulgoyal.com

 


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