Google is constantly rolling out updates to its search algorithm to improve the quality of the sites that appear within search engine results pages (SERPs). These changes often spark turmoil within the SEO community, outraging some and prompting others to find new best practices that fit the bill and make the sites that they manage “Google friendly”. With algorithm rollouts happening sporadically throughout the year, keeping track of these continual changes isn’t easy.
Increasingly, marketing managers, SEO experts, and conversion rate optimization managers are turning to various technologies, techniques, and tools to make it easier to keep a website in Google’s good graces. What the company is doing may seem like overkill, but, in the end, it has to ensure the quality of its search business. This involves making sure that its system cannot be gamed to the detriment of the general quality results pages. The rest of us mere mortals must learn to adapt in order to compete properly in a market with potential competitors numbering in the millions.
Part of this process involves a principal decision that must be taken before a website is even published. Your web hosting service of choice matters greatly when it comes to how Google judges your site. In the end, making a smart web hosting choice will make everything else easier for you from an SEO perspective. Here’s why:
Server speed can affect you.
Your infrastructure needs to be fast. Google has always placed an emphasis on site speed, within its algorithm, making it one of the primary things to work on before moving on to trying other SEO techniques. Even more, its new mobile-friendly algorithm shows no signs of changing the status quo when it comes to judging mobile sites. When choosing a host, have a look at some of the websites the service is already hosting. How are their load times? Are the load times affected by the site’s code and loading order, or is it a problem from the server itself?
Be especially wary of hosts that tend to have good load times only outside of peak hours. Make sure you test during a time where Internet users are most active (7-9 PM, GMT). Even if you are caching your site on a CDN, ensure that the most basic unit — the servers that are actually hosting your site’s primary data — is as solid as possible before proceeding to whip out your debit card.
Mobile matters more than you realize.
Mobile websites often require a series of dependencies to be enabled from the host software. How much control do you have over this? Google is starting to become more interested in ranking mobile websites properly, which is no surprise due to the immense growth in mobile traffic that the internet as a whole has been experiencing in the last five years.
This trend means one thing: you will need to implement technologies that optimize content for mobile devices. If your hosting provider isn’t ready to give you that control or capability, you should, at least, have the flexibility to make your site mobile friendly with the dependencies that the host provides for you out of the box.
You’re doing more than just renting space and processing power.
Years ago, when people were just starting to get their feet wet with web hosting, service providers would make the amount of space and bandwidth they offer a major selling point– and buyers fell for this every time. Now that bandwidth and space are extraordinarily cheap, these two criteria won’t tell you much about whether or not a web host is a right fit for your business. But hosting optimizations will.
Keep in mind that you’re not only renting some space on a server. You’re also renting a piece of the entire infrastructure behind it, including all of the optimizations that the software within the server has. Some of the optimizations might be pleasant surprises, but a lack in optimizations can be a terrifying experience, especially when you commit to purchasing hosting for more than a few months. You should take serious consideration of this fact before choosing a suitable hosting service for your site.
SEO is a complex process designed to ensure that your website has the best chance of gaining visibility, encompassing everything from the quality of your content to the speed at which pages load. While you do have a lot of control over content quality, when it comes to load speed, your service provider is holding all the cards. Don’t skimp on providers to save a few bucks now but take a beating in Google’s rankings. Take time to understand your different provider options and choose the best provider that fits your budget and your SEO needs.
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