How does Hosting Server Location Impact Website SEO
The SEO rankings of your website depend on many factors. For example, you may focus on the content, keyword distribution, and backlinks.
However, the speed and response times of your website are also driving factors. A hosting server location can impact page loading times, SEO rankings, and compliance.
In this article, we’ll look at hosting server location and how it impacts website SEO.
Overview of hosting server location
Server location is the physical location of the data center where your website is hosted. The data centers can be anywhere in the world. While choosing a web hosting provider, you need to consider the destination of your target audience.
Let’s assume that your company is based in Sweden. Your primary customers are, however, based in the United States. In this case, it is recommended to choose servers that are closer to your target audience. The server location affects site speed and availability.
When a user clicks on your website, the data is passed from the data center to the user's computer via networks. The aim is to transfer the data using the fastest network paths or shortest latency.
Why is the hosting server location important?
Server location affects website speed.
The physical location of your server is an essential factor in determining your website loading speed.
If your servers are located far away, it will cause a delay in data transfer. As a result, your users will witness site latency.
The servers that are close to your target customers will transfer data over shorter distances. Due to this, your users will witness fast response times.
You will need to decide which data center region will offer localized hosting for your audience.
A Google research noted that 53% of mobile visitors are likely to abandon the site if the page load times are longer than 3 seconds. The analysis also mentions how latency directly affects your revenue.
Site speed is a contributing factor to search engine rankings. To improve your site speed, you need to host your website near your customers.
Server location affects SEO rankings.
Page speed reduces bounce rates. Bounce rates (or single-page session) is where visitors land on a website page and leave quickly, without triggering another request.
With a slow site, you are likely to have a higher bounce rate. For example, the bounce rate increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.
Page speed also improves user experience. You get a high dwell time on a fast-loading site. Dwell time is the length of time users spend on a web page.
Faster loading sites are also easier to crawl by search engines. Crawling is where search engines discover updated content. The content can be new web pages, sites, or when you change your existing content. Website crawlers and bots need to crawl your website regularly for indexing and ranking.
You can see how the SEO rankings are linked to your site speed and server location. Search engines do allow you to choose your target regions. It helps in geo-targeting and using the right keywords for that region.
A suitable server hosting location can make your websites load faster.
Server location affects legal compliance.
Hosting your website in a different country also has legal implications. You have to abide by the regulations and compliance before storing your data in those regions.
Some countries may restrict storing sensitive user data on the servers. If you fail to comply with their laws, there may be financial repercussions.
It is essential to know the data laws of the country before using servers in those regions. If your websites are not accessible to users due to non-compliance, the SEO rankings may drop.
How Search Engines See Server Locations
Search Engines such as Google have their own set of standards to rank a website. For example, Google’s search algorithms look at many factors, including relevance and usability, the expertise of sources, location, and settings.
Former Google Search Quality expert Matt Cutts was asked if hosting server location affects page rankings. His response: “We try to return the most relevant results to each user in each country. And server location in terms of IP address is a factor in that.”
However, search engines like Google and Bing are now using a more globalized approach with geo-targeting. Companies that have servers overseas can set a target country using webmaster tools.
If you don’t set the target country, the search engine uses other criteria such as server IP address, backlinks, and content.
Google now uses ccTLD (country code top-level domain) over server location. Google search results are based on relevance. So if your website is focused on a single region for your audience, you are likely to rank higher.
However, server location is essential in terms of site speed and response times.
Using a CDN for speed and proximity
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of servers distributed worldwide. It helps minimize latency by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. A CDN stores a cached version of your website content in multiple geographical locations.
Without a CDN, the primary servers have to respond to every single user request. As a result, the servers get overwhelmed with requests, leading to slow data transfer.
CDN responses to requests from the user's proximal location. When a user clicks on your site, some content gets loaded from the nearest CDN server. The rest is loaded from your hosting server.
A CDN helps speed up the page delivery for your website. In addition, if you have a global customer base, a CDN helps decrease server load and boost response times.
A hosting server location does impact your website speed and SEO ranking. The further the location of your server from target users, the slower your website.
Companies choose a server overseas to save costs or for better server infrastructure. Although it may seem like a good option, these benefits are short-lived.
Speed is a direct ranking factor for your website. Therefore, a hosting server location should be close to your audience for faster speed.
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