Yes, your hosting can have an impact on your SEO. Surprised? So are most people when they learn that their hosting plan can impact their potential for reaching high SERPs. But why? And how?
Turns out, your hosting plan affects three major areas which all affect your rankings: Security, Location, and Speed. We'll give you a thorough breakdown not just of how your hosting plan affects these things, but what you can do to pick the best hosting for your target audience, and how to mitigate problematic factors if you encounter them.
Your Hosting Plan Security
Security is one of the most basic issues to worry about when you're running a website, whether you're engaged in SEO activities or not! And the basic rule of thumb is this: the less secure your website is, the more likely it is to get hacked. And if you do happen to get hacked, it's likely that your content could be modified in such a way that you lose any rankings you've gotten.
So, while poor security doesn't mean your website will have trouble gaining rankings, it means that your risk of losing rankings eventually is higher. For this reason, the first thing you should vet any hosting provider on is their security. Do they offer security rolled into their price? Do they monitor your files? Alternatively, do they offer increased security for an additional fee? Would they help you if your website was hacked? Weigh as many variables as you can before locking yourself to any particular hosting package.
If your hosting plan doesn't offer its own additional security and you're already locked in, always make certain to secure your website against hackers as best you can. Adding security plugins, creating secure passwords, and utilizing common-sense security practices can help mitigate the risks.
Your Hosting Plan's Server Location
When you purchase hosting, you're purchasing physical space on a company's server. And your website will rank better (or worse) for your target audience based on the location of that server. For example, if you're wanting to target German millennials who like to cook, you'll see better results in German search results if your hosting has a eurozone (or better, German) physical location.
This rule of thumb generally holds true at the country level all over the world. Unfortunately, most hosting companies only have data centers at a few specific cities. Are they in the countries or broad global zones of your target audiences? The effect might be relatively small, in the long run, and certainly not as significant or weighty as having correctly-configured page titles: but it does make a difference.
If you're wanting to mitigate the effect of a website that's hosted in a vastly different area than your target audience, you can try to overcome that by adding locality information and location-specific information to your website's footer, pages, and other important SEO-related text. Adding google maps to your website which denote locations close to your target audience is also a great idea!
The Speed of Your Hosting Provider
The speed of your hosting provider ties significantly into the location: the closer your server is in physical location to the end user who's pulling up your website, generally speaking, the faster their load times are. But that's only one small element of hosting speed which can impact your position in google searches.
Another element which impacts speed is the server's processor, and how much bandwidth and RAM your website is allocated. For this reason, dedicated hosting is generally faster than shared hosting. It's worth noting that the more visitors and traffic your website receives, the more space on a server it will need: so being able to expand as needed rather than being constrained to a small portion of a shared server no matter how much traffic your website is getting is invaluable.
The Bottom Line
If you're still looking for hosting, paying close attention to these factors can help give your website an easy leg up where SEO is concerned. Picking the right hosting package can fulfill all your security, location, and speed needs to make certain you're not starting off at a disadvantage. But it's important to put this into perspective: the biggest factors that affect your website's SEO will always be its on-site elements.