Today’s question about SEO comes from July to Houston, who asks:
“How does hosting affect SEO and, specifically, what features should you look for when you want to host an affiliate website?”
This is a big question and I see a lot of misinformation about it on the internet.
Unfortunately, web hosting is a huge niche in the affiliate space. This means that there is a real incentive for people to write all kinds of articles and make all sorts of claims about how your hosting can help you outperform your SEO.
In fact, I did a quick Google search to get some questions about SEO and hosting each The result I found comes from a site that also contained affiliate links.
I promise you that there will be no hosting recommendations or affiliate links in this post.
The truth is that web hosting matters very little to SEO. Now, I can imagine what some of you are saying … and we’ll see all that matters below.
4 Web Hosting Factors That Can Affect SEO
You will want to consider these factors as you choose a web host, as they can affect SEO in several ways.
1. Page speed
We all know that page speed is a ranking factor. How important is a debate still (even though Google says it’s a factor)? “tiny little” factor), but that is not the issue here.
If you choose small web hosting without the bandwidth you need, your speed may be affected. The type of plan you choose is also very important.
If you have a major news site, for example, you won’t want to stay on a shared plan with limited bandwidth that doesn’t support last-minute news traffic.
You will need to decide based on the needs of your website whether you want shared hosting, a virtual private server, a dedicated server, or a scalable cloud-based hosting solution.
All of this can work perfectly for SEO, depending on what your website does and how much traffic / resources you need.
2. Accommodation limitations
Some web hosts have strange limitations. I had a client hosting on a platform that does not give them access to their own .htaccess files. They had a limit of 1,000 redirects they can make when, in theory, it should be unlimited.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily affect SEO by itself, but it does, depending on what you want to do with your website.
Make sure your host can handle all the normal day-to-day things you want to do on your site.
With CDNs like Akamai and Cloudflare, the location of the host matters much less now than it used to be.
Where this still matters is on the legal side and on the international side. If you want to do business specifically in China or Russia, for example, it is best to host the site in China or Russia.
If you want to do anything that is illegal in some countries, but not in others (such as a bitcoin pool, sports betting, or criticizing some royalties), make sure you don’t stay in those countries.
Again, these things aren’t really SEO, but they could definitely throw a spanner in your SEO plans.
4. Operating time
That’s what we talked about a lot with accommodation in telephone connection time and T1 lines.
Today it’s not a big deal with CDNS and redundancies and things like Microsoft Azure or Amazon cloud services.
Yes, some parts of the internet and the cloud sometimes go down, and yes, you should choose a reliable hosting company that minimizes your downtime. But these types of problems are usually temporary.
Things that don’t really matter
Something I hear constantly talking about class C IPs. This topic used to be very popular among spammers who wanted to hide their spam on Google.
The theory is that if they’re all in the same hosting environment, Google can find them more easily. While there is some truth, I’ve found that there are many easier ways to discover junk networks from people who ignore the noise and uncertainty of who might also be on your server.
Advertising and analytics tags, social widgets, themes, and HTML comments have already left people’s spam before.
Google knows this, and they also know that you have no control over who else hosts you in your neighborhood, so they probably won’t oppose you.
One of my other pet movies is “___ hosting”, where ___ is a platform like WordPress or Angular or React or AEM or Contentful or any CMS / framework you want to use.
Of course, some hosts specialize in it. But if you know what you are doing, there is no reason why you cannot choose the server settings in any good web hosting.
You can control Windows / Linux or Cpanel / Plesk or any of the server programs up to the operating system, the version of PHP and MySQL (or another language of your choice) to get the optimal configuration for what you need.
Now, if you’re just starting out and don’t want to manage a server (like me), you may want to take advantage of a maintenance team familiar with your choice of architecture to help you, but that’s not really an SEO decision.