Choosing a reliable and SEO-friendly web hosting service is one of the very first and most important steps in your website development and marketing process. No matter how “cliche” it may sound, your website hosting is literally the foundation of its success.
If you are an experienced web user with lots of websites hosted around the web, you probably don’t need this step. One glance at the package features says it all. On the other hand, if you are like me and have no idea about what most of those words mean, you don’t need to dig too deep: otherwise you’ll get lost and waste plenty of time.
So here is a very simplified list of terms you will need to deal with when choosing an SEO web hosting:
IP address: is basically the unique number which identifies the location of your server on the Internet. Like we have mentioned above, if you are on a shared or virtual private server, your site should be sharing a IP address with a number of other websites. If you are on dedicated server, you have a unique IP address.
Server location: tightly related to the above one, this one is important to mention for a number of reasons. For us the most important reason is that Google considers the server “physical” location when ranking a website in both local and general search (for location-specific searches). So if you are creating a website for your local business and expect people to search it by location, find the hosting provider nearby.
Uptime: refers to the percentage of time your server (and website) should be “up” and running. Uptime is an important SEO-relevant metric. Apart from obvious damage to your website performance, frequent crashes often negatively affect SEO. Google won’t rank your website high if it is often unavailable or down (see tip #2 in the list of the ways of increasing Google crawl rate). Most web hosting providers “guarantee” min 99.9% uptime (but it is recommended to do your research and check for real people’s reviews before jumping to any conclusions).
Apart from the essential terminology listed above, there are a few completely useless terms you don’t need to pay attention to when looking through the list of package features. These are:
(Free) site builder: Just don’t use them. Period (hence the absence / presence of one should NOT be a criterion). You don’t need any (especially with various easy-to-install and easy-to-use website platforms like Word Press. Many built-in Site Builders are not SEO-friendly and limit flexibility; besides many of them are proprietary which means you won’t be able to painlessly move your site to another provider.
“Search Engine Visibility”: believe it or not, many hosting providers still indicate this as a separate feature and some – even as a paid add-on whereas it should be clear to everyone that any website that means to be public should be “visible” to search engines: there is no extra effort from the webhosting service needed for that.
What to pay attention to when reading what other users say:
Frequent (widely-reported) security issues: Improperly managed web hosts are often attacked by hackers, so your website will often have troubles being labeled as one “that may harm your computer” (which also dramatically decreases the click through as well as damages your web resource reputation).
Customer support feedback: Every hosting provider (like any person or service) may fail at times but the availability of the customer service and the rate at which they solve issues and – that’s what defines a good service provider.