Web Hosting and SEO

23May11

Guest post from David Murton

A long-term search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will determine whether or not you attract Web visitors to your website. Your SEO strategy must involve a holistic approach for incorporating content, graphics, links and Web hosting. SEO must be a continual process – building upon success and removing failures.

The most advanced web hosting companies are experienced in helping customers develop the best SEO strategy to deliver success. Your website consists of your content, structure, products and services. It also includes more intangible issues, like your IP address. Applications can provide short-cuts that automate processes.

The Internet has more intense competition than brick-and-mortar stores because Web surfers can easily click to a “better” website. Therefore, websites must ensure that content is as “fresh” as possible. Web surfers expect new content updated in real-time.

Mobile device search engine marketing (SEM) must concentrate on what keywords, issues or concerns are most important to your target audience. Most mobile users are searching for news, weather, restaurants, financial or sports information. The structure must be concise, compact and efficient.

How Can Downtime Affect My Website’s Page Rank?

The World Wide Web is still an “abstraction” in many people’s minds because the location of sites is hidden. One of the most important requirements of a site is to establish its “legitimacy,” “authenticity” and “reliability.” Consumers must trust that a website is “real.”

Con artists tend to run scams that make websites appear for a short amount of time and vanish quickly. Thus, when a website experiences significant downtime, it might appear to be fraudulent to search engines and customers.

Many issues can affect downtime – Web developer coding errors, hacker attacks or Web hosting mistakes. If the site will be down for scheduled maintenance, then a message should be sent to customers along with the addition of “server downtime error codes.”

When a Web surfer conducts a keyword search, he is given a list of potential relevant sites. If your site is “down,” the surfer will simply go to the next site on the list. Downtime leads to lost customers.

Downtime can also affect PageRank because Google bots can’t crawl your site if it is down. If downtime continues to be an issue, then Google could list your site as “offline” or “temporarily unavailable.” This could seriously damage your PageRank.

A Web owner must ensure that his site maximizes “searchability” by “search engines” and “potential customers.” He must fix these common problems that could lead to downtime:

  • Ensure that the “domain name registration” is up-to-date
  • Correct a “robots.txt” file that includes the words “Disallow:/”, which could prevent Google from caching the site
  • Remove “Meta NoIndex” tag in the template head that will prevent a site from being indexed
  • “Multiple Redirects” are seen as the tools of fraud artists

A hacker malware attack can leave broken code, bugs or rootkits that could damage your website.

Many Web hosting companies will allow a client to include “performance-based” criteria, like uptime, that must be satisfied. There are also “uptime monitors” that can track the percentage of time that a website is up-and-running. If you continue to have problems with downtime, then find a better hosting company.

Google Webmaster Tools can help with creating sites that are easy to search.

Is Shared Hosting a Good Idea?

Shared hosting is a cost-effective way to use group resources – disk space, bandwidth, memory and servers – to achieve economies of scale. Instead of requiring all websites to invest money in software, hardware and IT staff (which can be expensive), shared hosting pools resources.

So are good websites with shared hosting penalized by bad websites on the same servers?

Search engines realize that shared hosting is an economic reality. Sites can not control which sites are on a shared hosting network. If there are only a couple of “spam-filled” websites, then the legitimate websites won’t be affected. If the majority of the websites are questionable, then legitimate websites might suffer from “guilt by association.”

The secret of shared hosting is to find a “good shared hosting” company. When shared hosting companies have good uptime rates, disk space and performance, then websites benefit. Cost-savings and scalability are tremendous benefits of shared hosting. Companies need to match their needs to the hosting services provided.

Does the Host’s IP Address Matter?

One strength of the Internet is its “anonymity.” Even the Internet Protocol (IP) address provides only a rough estimation of where someone is located. According to Wikipedia, it accomplishes two identification purposes: Host (or Network) and Location.

The Web server connects the user to the Internet. The server has a specific IP address with a geographical location: city, state and country.

For most purposes, the IP address is not important.

For more specific keyword searches, IP addresses can influence how search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing – view the relevance of a site. Search engines attempt to match a keyword search with a website that can best fulfill the request. Search engine keywords begin with “country-specific” topics and then branch out from that starting point.

These search engines believe that a customer in country A with domain extension for country A and IP address in country A is most likely to find relevant information in web sites with a domain extension and IP address in country A. The search engine assumes that websites are targeting consumers with the same IP address.

If an IP address is in a different country, it could lead to a decrease in the number of indexed pages.

The way that a website compensates for an IP address in a different country is by matching all of the other criteria for keyword searches: domain name, language and links. Using the country suffix for your target audience also helps. Finally, by going to the Google Webmaster Tools control panel, you can set the “geographic target” for your customer base.



One Response to “Web Hosting and SEO”

  1. A fact that I didn’t realize but learned when I was trying to rank the international version of a site higher than the generic: example.com/italian higher than just example.com
    is that the meta description and language meta are the key things that Google looks at to determine relevance to, for example, google.it
    If the meta is in Italian on the page example.com/italian, it will be seen more relevant and rank higher.


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