Is Dedicated Hosting Better for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Updated August 15, 2020
A dedicated server CAN be better for SEO in a few select circumstances.
Before going into exactly when that can happen, it’s important to first gain an understanding of the fundamentals. In other words, it’s important to know the ins and outs of dedicated hosting, who needs it, what is SEO and how does one influence the other.
What is Dedicated Hosting?
Dedicated hosting is where an entire server is dedicated to the uses of a single business customer. That customer can choose to split the server up into various segments, share it with others, split it between many sites of their own, or can use the entire server for one specific website.
Dedicated servers that are split into segments are often then referred to as Virtual Private Servers (VPS). In this way many different individuals can get their own smaller seemingly dedicated servers, with root access, resources of their very own, lots of processor and memory capabilities plus control of what they can install.
Dedicated servers can also be split into many different smaller accounts, such as Reseller or Shared hosting accounts. By doing so, budget minded users can have a web hosting account as part of the collective without having to pay an arm and a leg.
Bottom line: A dedicated server gives the one business user total control over the entire server. It’s the ultimate in performance and security since there isn’t a sharing of resources unless they choose to share part of the server with others.
Who Needs Dedicated Hosting?
When you need extreme performance, such as large websites with huge amounts of traffic, or when you run demanding applications such as ecommerce shops, a dedicated server is the top of the heap – it is the pinnacle of performance and becomes the likely choice for those with the most stringent performance requirements.
All other types of hosting plans, other than dedicated hosting, relies on shared tenancy. In other words, other hosting means many people doing things on the same hardware. While web hosts make every effort to partition off each user so that one never affects the other, there are concerns about having other users logged into the same place, particularly when an entire company operation, personal information, databases, transactions and financial details are being stored.
With all other types of hosting plans, users don’t have the control available to pick and choose every manner of configuration and software that they’d like to install. Shared and Reseller are limited to cPanel control panel for example. VPS customers can choose cPanel or DirectAdmin. Dedicated server customers can install any control panel they want, providing of course they have a license to use it!
What is SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimization, the field of study and practice dedicated to knowing how to create content, modify data and metadata, plus manage websites so that the pages rank well for search phrases across popular search engines such as Google and Bing.
There are over 200 suspected different factors that impact how a page will rank in search results on Google alone.
Google doesn’t publish the algorithm and weightings of each factor that are part of SEO. If they did, there would be thousands of people attempting to manipulate those variables on their sites in an effort to outrank the rest. By keeping the algorithm top secret, Google ensures that there’s a level playing field among site owners.
The only problem with an unpublished algorithm determining the fate of millions is that it leads to guesswork. It all comes down to which expert you trust more than others in deciding which factors are more important than others.
Some activities can be undertaken to improve rankings with a minimum of effort. This includes things like changing the page title, editing the H1 tag, tweaking image ALT text and editing the first paragraph of content on the page.
Other SEO activities require a bit of cash. These types of activities include tasks like registering a domain for many years rather than just a single year or opting for high performance hosting rather than bargain basement $1.00 unlimited hosting.
How Does Dedicated Hosting Influence SEO?
Before you read another article that says web hosting has no impact on Google search rankings, consider the realities of the situation.
Again, there are over 200 suspected search ranking factors, and at least 3 of them are definitely hosting related.
Scenario 1 – Performance: Fast Hosting vs Slow Hosting
Page loading time matters. Page speed is the new black. By loading more quickly than others, some sites get the nod in the battle for the best rankings.
Expecting budget-beating shared hosting compared with the performance of high-end dedicated servers is completely unrealistic. While you CAN rank well with quality shared hosting, the cheapest, slowest, most poor-performing shared hosting definitely cannot possibly compete against the speeds of dedicated server hosting.
In the list of 200 shared above, items #22 and #23 are both page speed related. That’s 2 of the 200 that are clear reasons for dedicated server hosting.
Note: If your website is only a few pages, doesn’t require complex applications or otherwise tax performance, or if your shared hosting is high performance, then there’s very little to be gained by looking at faster dedicated hosting. Dedicated makes sense when it can load pages much quicker than shared, reseller or VPS alternatives.
Scenario 2 – Uptime: Dependable vs Undependable Hosting
Uptime is a big deal when it comes to search engines because it’s a big deal when it comes to search engine users. It’s incredibly frustrating to search for something on Google, click the result and find a page that doesn’t load because a site is offline, either due to maintenance, hosting issues or other problems.
Persistent downtime can lead to impacted search rankings and even possibly getting removed from the rankings entirely, as per #76 in the list of 200.
A quality dedicated server can greatly improve uptime and give a site owner the edge over less dependable hosting of other types.
Note: Quality hosting is the deciding factor. It just so happens that frequently those spending bigger sums each month are able to enjoy better uptime than those spending budget amounts. However…. Choosing quality hosting providers, like KnownHost can mean that even the lowest priced shared hosting plans enjoy just as good of uptime and their much more expensive dedicated hosting plans.
Scenario 3 – Location: Geo-targeted Searches Depend on Location
For domains that are on generic top-level domains, like .com or .net, the server location gives clues as to where the sites are located, and hence where they should appear in geo-targeted searches.
If someone is in Dallas, Texas and searches for “Paris restaurants”, there’s a good chance that Google will return results for restaurants located in Paris, Texas, from sites hosted in or near Texas (USA at least). For those hosting their website in France, Google might only show them when people are searching for restaurants in Paris, France, even though the site may be about a Paris, Texas restaurant.
Location, as #77 on the 200 list, makes a difference.
With shared hosting, you’re often limited to a location that’s not of your choosing. Maybe a hosting provider is putting your files in Calgary or Mexico City. This is especially true of cloud providers who don’t mention where your files are located. With dedicated server hosting you typically get a finer granularity of location choices so that you can host closest to your target audience.
Note: KnownHost has Shared and Reseller plans based in Atlanta, GA, ideal for anyone targeting North America, as well as VPS, Cloud and Dedicated hosting plans in Seattle, Atlanta and Amsterdam, which are great for those aiming at a west coast, anywhere in the United States or European audience.
Dedicated hosting CAN BE better for search engine optimization, depending on what other hosting alternatives you’re comparing. In general, however, the difference between quality, dependable, high performance hosting and hosting which isn’t, is the difference with which you should be concerned.
Find a quality provider, like KnownHost who has great uptime, located servers near your target audience and with high speed performance due to SSDs, premium hardware, premium software and top-notch support and admin staff. These are the hosting factors which will do the most for your SEO.