When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), most bloggers focus the majority of their time gathering links. Obviously, links are a key aspect of SEO and are critical to obtaining high search engine rankings. However, there are other factors that – if neglected – can significantly cripple your ability to rank in Google – even if you have plenty of quality backlinks. A poor choice in web hosting is one of those factors that can have a significant effect on your WordPress blog’s ability to rank in Google.
Your choice of web host can have an effect on your blog’s optimization for search due to several factors that Google takes into account in their ranking algorithm. Slow page load times, prolonged server downtime, and geo-location in the wrong region can all negatively affect your attempts to rank.
It goes without saying that the speed of your web host will affect the speed with which your WordPress blog loads. But perhaps what you didn’t know was that Google has officially stated that your website’s load speed is one of the signals they use in their ranking algorithm. Having a web server that can adequately handle your website’s traffic load is the most important factor in optimizing site speed. A slow server, or a service plan that can’t meet your traffic needs will not only create a poor user experience for readers, it can actually hurt you in the search engines.
In addition to finding a fast web server and a suitable hosting plan, you’ll also want to take some simple measures to optimize your WordPress blog for performance. Be sure to compress images so that they’re optimized for the web and be sure to compress and clean up any broken code or scripts that could affect page load times. You’ll also see a significant speed boost if you Cache static files.
If you’re fairly new to blogging and you’re not sure where to start then you’re in luck. The great thing about WordPress is that there are a number of plugins that can take care of these critical on-site SEO factors for you. You can use a WordPress plugin like WP W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache to cache static files, minify your .css and .js scripts, optimize images, and much more. These plugins can even be used with a Cloud based content delivery network if you’re really serious about shaving precious Milli-seconds off of your website’s loading times.
Reliability is always one of the key factors in choosing a web host, but it’s especially important if you’re concerned with your search engine rankings. If your WordPress blog is consistently down when Google’s bots crawl your site, Google will drop your site in its rankings in order to protect the user experience. Choosing a web host with a reputation for reliability and consistent up-time is key to avoiding search engine penalties due to server downtime.
In addition to choosing a reliable web host, it’s highly recommended that you monitor server performance with a tool like Pingdom, which will monitor your server 24/7 and notify you of any downtime. Excessive server downtime is a good reason to switch web hosts, both to protect your readers as well as your search engine rankings.
A great way to avoid excess server downtime is to choose a quality, reliable web host with a reputation for minimal down-time. Take the extra time upfront to do your research and you can save yourself plenty of hassle and headaches down the road. You can find plenty of independent hosting reviews at Whoishostingthis.com.
Your Server’s Location
The location of your server can have an effect on your search engine rankings in other areas of the world. Google’s recent attempts to personalize search results means that for many local search terms (e.g. lawyers in New York), Google’s ranking algorithm takes into account a number of geo-location factors to determine if your website should rank for this local search term. If your WordPress blog is hosted on a server in Australia, this could potentially hurt your ability to rank for a local search term in the United States.
Luckily, this is also the simplest factor to address. While you’re best served choosing a web host that’s based in the United States if you’re primarily targeting US traffic, you can also let Google know that you want to target the United States via Google Webmaster Tools.
Nat is a writer and SEO with a passion for technology and search engine marketing.