SEO or Search Engine Optimization plays a very important role in organic reach of your website and in turn achieves whatever your goal is behind starting a website. SEO simply means making it easy for search engines like Google to recommend your content to its users for the stuff they are looking for.
There are many factors that we need to consider such as keywords, on-page SEO, backlinks, technical SEO and so on which we all know about and pay a lot of attention to, but there is one factor that impacts your SEO by a high magnitude that is missed by most website owners, and that is Hosting.
The performance of your website host i.e. the server that stores your website and serves it to the world, impacts the user experience of your website visitors. If your website is frequently unreachable or takes a lot of time to load, the users won’t ant to return to it again and that will be a big negative in the eyes of search engines.
So here are the 5 best SEO practices that you must follow for your website hosting:
- Choose a reliable hosting provider
- Optimize website speed
- Use SSL certificate
- Implement regular backups
- Monitor host performance
Now let’s discuss them in detail
Choose a reliable hosting provider
Selection of hosting is the first decision you make after deciding to launch a website and acquiring a domain name. The host is the server where you will put the code that’ll run your website.
While it may be tempting to select the cheapest option for the web host to start with, that might not be the best decision for your website. There are many hosting providers such as GoDaddy, Hostgator, Bluehost that provide various competitive plans. On the other hand you can also choose to host the website on a cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure where you can build your entire architecture from ground up.
Here are some of the things you need to consider while selecting a provider:
- Uptime: Uptime is the amount of time that your web server remains operational, which means it’ll be able to serve the website without any problems. If your website is down or unreachable when a user clicks on a search result or when a google bot is trying to crawl the page, that is a negative sign that’ll impact your SEO score. So choose a web host that not only advertises the maximum uptime but also has the best user reviews for a good uptime.
- Server Response Time: This is the time your server takes to respond to a request from users’ browser. This is also referred to as ping or latency. The lesser the ping time, the better the user experience.
- Server Location: This factor affects the ping factor heavily. Where your server is located with respect to your users’ physical location dictates the time it’ll take for your server to respond to your user. Ideally you should first analyse your target audience and see where the majority of it located geographically. Having your server closer to your audience helps in reducing the ping making the audience and in turn Google very happy.
Optimise Website Speed
Website speed is different from the server response time. While server response time refers to the time it takes the server to respond to the request from your browser, website speed is how much time it actually takes to load all the content on the web page.
While server location and response time determines when your website starts loading, it’s your code on the server that actually dictates how much time it’ll take to fully load.
Here are some things you can do to achieve a good page speed:
- Optimize images: Images with a large size are the culprits most of the times for slow page loads. Optimizing your images before uploading them with tools like TinyPNG or using a WordPress plugin to do it can help greatly.
- Use a CDN: A CDN or a Content Delivery Network is a network of servers linked together with the goal of delivering content as quickly, cheaply, reliably, and securely as possible. Cloudflare is one of the best options for a CDN along with Amazon CloudFront and Microsoft Azure CDN.
Use SSL Certificates
SSL certificates are what enable websites to move from HTTP to HTTPS, which is more secure. SSL certificates make SSL/TLS encryption possible.
Here are some reasons why your website needs an SSL certificate:
- Encryption: SSL provides the encryption for the data between a client and the web server, which means no unwanted entity can read your data.
- Authentication: SSL certificates verify that a client is talking to the correct server that actually owns the domain. This helps prevent domain spoofing and other kinds of attacks.
- HTTPS: This is the most important things for businesses, to get that https in their website URL. In addition to securing user data in transit, HTTPS makes sites more trustworthy from a user’s perspective.
You can get a free SSL certificate for your website from Cloudflare or LetsEncrypt.
Implement Regular Backups
Backups aren’t a thing that comes to your mind when you are talking about SEO. So why are we adding this here?
One day or the other there will be something wrong with your hosting server. The provider network may go down, DNS may crash, a hacker might take over your website and delete all the content. You don’t want to lose all the content that you have created on the website in any such scenarios, and worse than that, give a 404 error when a visitor clicks on a link to your website from SERPs. If that happens that’s a big negative sign for the search algorithms and it will affect your ranking massively.
To make sure that you are taking regular backups that you can use to recover the content in case of emergencies you can choose one of these paths:
- Host Takes Backups: Select a hosting provider that offers to take regular backups for you
- Manual Backups: You manually download the files and database from the server.
- Cron Jobs: You set up a Cron job that will backup the desired files and database and ideally upload to a remote location at regular intervals
Monitor host performance
Lastly, constantly monitoring how your website host is performing is very important to keep a close eye on any errors or red flags and take measures in time. Here are some of the things that you can look at:
- Google Analytics: Monitor the traffic for landing pages, bounce rate as well as geographical location of the users
- Google Search Console: To keep a watch on errors on pages and indexing issues
- Server Error Log: Your server will start throwing errors as soon as some unexpected behaviour is detected
- CDN Dashboard: A CDN provider like Cloudflare will also give you access to a dashboard to track the visitors on your website that you can monitor
In conclusion, your hosting choice has a huge impact on your SEO rankings so you must take them seriously and take action accordingly.
In case you are not technically equipped to manage this aspect or any other aspect of your website, you can leave it to professionals like us!!