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Does Website Hosting Affect Rankings at Google ?

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After planning and developing a website the next part is to host it on the internet. Web Hosting is indeed an issue to be spent time on but the question arises if you need to look at it with your SEO eye or not? The issue of Web Hosting’ is not just related to the price and features of web hosting provider offered but website owners who are far sighted consider some other factors too and one of those factors is search engine optimization. Does choosing a host provider makes any difference in rankings at search engines. If you submit your site again and again to Google but still isn’t able to get it indexed then you must give a thought to your host provider who may be responsible. There is a strong belief that a website to rank higher must have a unique IP address but on the other hand it doesn’t seem necessary because these days most of the websites are hosted on shared IP’s. On a single computer many servers run side by side and serve different domains from single IP’s.

If you look at any of those SEO forums, you will see several topics old and new trying to talk about web hosting concerns as well as name servers issues!! The question people have in mind is “A cheap’ web hosting company hosts my site but, by the price of it, also may be hosting numerous spammers, scam sites, or other banned sites like Gambling and or Porn. (But for less then 10 bucks per month they’ll give you 5000 MB and unlimited domains!). Does that affect my rank and does it risk my website?

The answer in plain words is Yes and No. It may affect you to some extent and No it may not affect you in other concerns. Read in detail below.

Well there are certain situations like if the domain sharing your server and IP is penalized by Google on account of spamming then your website is also expected to be banned or penalized, this is a condition if there is virtual shared IP hosting. Another situation can be that your website is residing on the server containing illegal adult content, and that site too is on the hit list of Google resulting in your website to be banned too. But it is never taken for granted that if such co incidence happens then your website is surely affected because it is common sense that for a mistake by one person another one cannot be punished. Still to be on the safer side certain points should be made clear while hiring a web host.

Host should be 24/7 up: For proper website services it must be up 100% of time so that users aren’t encountered with blank page at times. Similarly search engines have no specific timings to come to a website for crawling so it must be up at all times in order to make search engines happy. If googlebot encounters a 404 error it will come again in the next crawl, so to be on the safer side ensure 100% uptime of your site. Yes maintenance tasks all hosts do but they should inform well in advance that for such and such period the site will be down due to maintenance so that you can plan accordingly but on the other hand if your host doesn’t informs you and you browse your site to see a 404 error then you must consider moving to another one. Google is believed to have a smaller crawl daily and a deep crawl once a month which implies that googlebot can come anytime. So your website must be ready to receive this welcome guest.

Clean record: The record of the host should be good at Google, although there is no mechanism to know about it but web hosts that are very popular and extensively used by big websites could be trusted rather than unpopular ones. Have a look at http://support.easystreet.com/abuse/banned_ip.html. For example a host hypermart.com offers very good and reasonable packages of hosting for general as well as dedicated hosting but a website hosted on it could face problems with optimizing at Altavista because this host service has got banned by Altavista and miss the traffic coming from this popular search engine. But such cases are rare and in a nutshell look for the prominent and reputable names in this field.

Virtual shared IP’s: Virtual shared IP is a system by which a web server uses the same IP address for different domains. Instead of having new computer for a server multiple virtual servers are made to reside on the same computer. Some web hosts can host 2000 domains on a single IP address; it all depends on the processing power and resources available to the server and the quality of service that the host wishes to provide to its clients. In this case the web page feed to the search engines would be very slow. However these days virtual shared hosting is a common scene as being a cheap and reliable option and mostly accepted by engines especially Google. Google does not ban sites by virtue of their sharing an IP address with a misbehaving site. In the words of Craig Silverstein of Google at an interview
“Actually, Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. If your ISP does virtual hosting correctly, you’ll never see a difference between the two cases. We do see a small percentage of ISPs every month that misconfigure their virtual hosting, which might account for this persistent misperception”. This makes it quite clear that Google does not penalize a site on account of virtual hosting if it is configured the proper way.

Intelligent domain selection: Domain name selection should be very cunning and wise, if your website has to serve local market say for example UK then a .uk domain is viable and if the website is intended for a global market then a top level domain of .com must be preferred. Domain selection will directly affect the ranking of your website at Google as in the above example if a shoe company uk has .uk domain it would rank higher for UK shoes search otherwise the competition is very much for general ones.

URL restructuring: With web hosting maintaining the proper structure of your URL’s is also important, search engines face problems while indexing dynamic URL’s (URL’s having many parameters or long query strings). Google is considered to be happy only with one or two parameters and more of the parameters the more it will be difficult to index them. Try to convert your dynamic pages to static ones, or let the server do it for you the other way to reduce the number of parameters passed in the URL which will help the page to be indexed fast. Apache is the most popular web server and employs a special “rewrite” module that allows you to convert the dynamic long URL’s to search engine friendly web addresses, this module (mod_rewrite) is not installed by default on the server but many hosting companies install it additionally being very easy. Once it is installed it can convert the following dynamic URL http://www.ittips.com/index.php?page=index_v2&id=632&c=13
into: http://www.ittips.com/computersindex_v2-632-13.htm (Shameless Self Promotion, ITTips.com is owned by the Author of this ArticleJ)

The new URL generated by the server that is accessible on the web is more SEO friendly and much desired by crawlers. Ensure that your host has this module working to enjoy the benefits.

Hosting does not matter that much although certain exceptions are always there i.e some host is penalized by Google but that way Google is intelligent in its operations and cannot deploy it unless compelled to do so. It is preferable to look for individual IP address so that risk of index removal is minimized. An expert advice can always save your time and money a great deal that is very precious which otherwise you learn by experience. Another thing that can be inferred is that sites hosted by free web hosts aren’t expected to rank high in future at Google for most competitive keywords because of the obvious reason that free sites are mostly prone to depleted content. In a nutshell you must be thorough with your web host and always clarify all issues before selecting one. These small considerations can make you safe for your further plans towards search engine optimization.

Good Luck

Nakul Goyal : A Master of Sciences in Information Technology from Panjab University, Chandigarh and a Bachelor of Computer Applications from Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, India. He is passionate towards the Cyber World & he likes to write about Technology. He’s a Microsoft Certified Professional, a Brainbench Certified ‘MVP’ (Most Valuable Professional), Brainbench Certified Internet professional and a CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) Associate. Professionally, Nakul is the co-founder of a Web Designing, Search Engine Optimization Company.

Website: http://www.nakulgoyal.com

Does Website Hosting Affect Rankings at Google ?
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About Nakul Goyal
Nakul Goyal : A Master of Sciences in Information Technology from Panjab University, Chandigarh and a Bachelor of Computer Applications from Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, India. He is passionate towards the Cyber World & he likes to write about Technology. He's a Microsoft Certified Professional, a Brainbench Certified 'MVP' (Most Valuable Professional), Brainbench Certified Internet professional and a CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) Associate. Professionally, Nakul is the co-founder of a Web Designing, Search Engine Optimization Company.

Website: http://www.nakulgoyal.com WebProNews Writer
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