Server and Hosting Issues affecting SEO

Sometime with SEO, you run into a brick wall and can not figure out why your site is not getting listed or even crawled in the search engines.

It may well be that this is not a site issue and actually relates to offsite issues related to connectivity, servers and hosting.

Thankfully, only a handful of server or web hosting dilemmas affect the practice of search engine optimization. However, when overlooked, they can spiral into massive problems, and so are worthy of review. The following are some server and hosting issues that can negatively impact search engine rankings:

Server Timeouts

A server connection timeout means that a server is taking too long to reply to a data request made from another device.

This device could be a user or a search engine bot.

If a search engine makes a page request that isn’t served within the bot’s time limit, your pages may not make it into the search engine index.

That means they will almost certainly rank very poorly (as no indexable text content has been found).

Slow Response Times

Google has indicated that the response time of your site is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages.

There are dozens of potential factors which may slow down the response of your server: slow application logic, slow database queries, slow routing, frameworks, libraries, resource CPU starvation, or memory starvation

Search engine crawlers will also be less likely to wait for your pages to load if they are slow.

In addition, sites that are looking to link to you may be put off because accessing your site is problematic.

Low load time is hugely detrimental to user experience. For Google, that's a dealbreaker.

Shared IP Addresses

When you host your website, it can either be on a dedicated IP address or on a shared IP address.

If your site is on a shared IP address, it will be done so using virtually hosted domains,

Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses.

However, if a neighbour's site on your shared IP address has spammy or untrusted backlinks or content then this can cause a trust issue with Google.

If you do find such a site on your shared IP, you could always request that your site be moved to a new IP so that it doesn't suffer the consequences of a penalised IP.

Blocked IP Addresses

As search engines crawl the Web, they frequently find entire blocks of IP addresses filled with nothing but spam. Rather than blocking each individual site, engines do occasionally take the added measure of blocking an IP address or even an IP range.

If you’re concerned, search for your IP address at Bing using the ip:address query.

Bot Detection and Handling

Blocking bots is all very well and good but if you get it wrong, you can limit the search engine spider's crawling ability.

Restricting access to certain files and visitors is a good idea in practise but, when done incorrectly, it can be disastrous for search engine traffic.

Bandwidth and Transfer Limitations

Many cloud providers and hosting companies have limits on the amount of bandwith and traffic that can run through to your site.

If your site becomes particularly popular then this traffic may spike and your host may either restrict or turn off your connectivity.

This practise will also cut off the search engines from spidering your site which will cause issues with your ranking efforts.

Server Geography

Host server location is one of the search signals that Google uses to determine where your business is based.

While you should choose a hosting server location in the country of your target audience, it is not as important as it used to be.

Google Search returns the most relevant and useful sites for a user. Because of this, search results can differ between a user in Ireland and a user in Spain.

Content hosted closer to end users tends to be delivered more quickly, and speed of content delivery is taken into account by Google.

While a good host isnt going to boost your rankings or guarantee you a spot at the top. A bad host it can actively damage your chances at building credit with Google, Bing, and other search engines.

Allocate more of your budget to hosting so your SEO efforts are not compromised by poor infrastructure.

SEO Consultant

This article was written by Gaz Hall, a UK based SEO Consultant on 18th November 2013.

Gaz has 20 years experience working on SEO projects large and small, locally and globally across a range of sectors.

If you need any SEO advice or would like him to look at your next project then get in touch to arrange a free consultation.