Search engine optimization is one of the facets of digital marketing that provokes a love/hate response. It’s obvious that having an SEO plan is a necessity. After all, there is a lot of value in organic traffic. On average, just over half of the traffic coming to a site is via organic search. That means avenues like social, paid ads, email, referrals, etc. combined equal the traffic that Google or Bing bring to your site. While having more visitors is nice, what does that actually mean for your bottom line? Organic search traffic also brings in the most revenue across most industry sectors. While some visitors might just be researching or “window shopping” many are deliberately performing searches so they can make a purchase.
The frustration of an SEO campaign usually lies in how nebulous it can sometimes be. That’s because search companies, especially Google, are notoriously secretive about the factors that go into their ranking algorithms. That’s why tactics that used to work don’t necessarily work quite as well a few years down the line. This means reevaluating your tactics, dealing with the ups and downs of rankings or penalties, and investing more into a new strategy. The frustration lies in not being entirely confident that the action you’re taking is the best course. Luckily, the whole thing isn’t a shot in the dark. There are definite correlations marketing professionals have parsed in order to determine how to best get higher search results. It turns out, many factors go into your search rankings. And some pretty significant ones actually relate to your site’s hosting. That’s why if you’ve been trying to save money by staying on a shared hosting plan, you could actually be giving up on revenue that would more than pay for your, say, VPS instead.
Surprised that your hosting company might be affecting your SEO efforts? Let’s break down what is known about search algorithms and how hosting can play a substantial role.
Search Ranking Factors
We know some of the major factors that make up Google’s algorithm through both trial and error and some guidance from Google themselves. Content plays a big part. In fact, it’s become possibly the most heavily weighted piece of signaling of the value of a site. If your site’s content isn’t determined to be “of value” then your low rankings will reflect that. Now, how does an algorithm determine the value of content? It can’t just read it like a human being would.
Google relies on signals that people find value in the content. A big one is social sharing. The more social media interaction there is with your site, the higher the authority and value, therefore the higher the rank. Ultimately, Google looks to approximate a user’s experience with its algorithm. That means some technical attributes of a site will factor into the ranking formula as well. Some of those attributes have to do with how well your site performs. That includes things like page load time and site speed. This is where your host comes in.
How Your Host Plays a Part
You know the reason why someone would opt for a VPS over a shared hosting plan. It’s faster. No one likes to wait for a page to load, or worse, crash. But it’s not that simple. Not only do users value site speed and load times highly, but Google does as well. First, it’s important to make a critical point. Many things factor into site speed, not just your host. Upgrading your shared hosting to a VPS will certainly be beneficial, but it’s not a magic bullet. Developer decisions play a major role in site speed, too.
However, you want to give your site every advantage possible. Higher performing servers will give you speed and broadband boosts. This should ostensibly increase your page load times which would reflect positively on your ranking scores. Having a higher performing hosting solution gives you a bit more wiggle room when it comes to “heavy” coding, but best practices still dictate clean code when possible. Site uptime also plays a part in your SEO efforts. Don’t settle for anything less than 99.9% service level agreements. If a search engine crawler comes to index your site during a period that it’s in downtime, that could be detrimental to your ranking.
What You Can Do to Improve Rankings
By focusing on giving your visitors the best user experience possible, you’re also going to be bolstering your SEO efforts. What does that look like?
Outside of the realm of hosting and site performance, you also want to make sure your information architecture is sound with proper URL formatting, high quality content, plenty of social media engagement, and a focus on keyword research.
Planning for the Future
“Future proofing” as a concept is a bit dubious. No one can predict how things will go. But, there are some best practices that probably won’t ever fall out of fashion.
Setting up your site with the right hosting solution right off the bat is always a good idea. Many business owners start on lower tiered hosting to save money only to find themselves in a situation where they need to migrate down the line. While migrations aren’t always a big deal, things can go wrong. Information could be lost. The technicalities of a site migration could hurt your SEO rankings. Anytime you move something from one place to another, there is the possibility of search penalties.
Starting right away on a VPS will save you time and headaches in the long run because you’ll be set up where you need to be from the beginning. You’ll have the performance you need to handle your site’s growth from its beginnings up to having hundreds of thousands of visitors.
A successful SEO campaign is all about setting up strong site architecture, including content, right off the bat and then building off of that over the years. What you don’t want to do is find yourself in a situation where you’re doing complete overhauls.
As you can see there is a lot riding on having a reliable hosting solution that consistently offers high performance. Every part of your digital operations is interconnected, even in some not so obvious ways. That’s why it’s important to partner with the best. At KnownHost, we know how important your website is to your business. If you’re looking for a hosting company with the experience to handle any kind of project all while providing top of the line customer service, contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions and help you determine the best hosting solution for your business.