How Web Hosting Affects A Site’s SEO Efforts

Many people wrongly believe that a website can only be optimized for search engines through proper implementation of keywords and tags on web pages, and by building quality inbound links.

This leads them to disregard or forget the role web hosting plays on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Here we will examine these roles, likely issues and then give our recommendations.

Canonicalization Issues:

In SEO, URL canonicalization is a situation whereby a web page is reachable through more than one (1) URL. A single web page that has multiple URLs causes crawling challenges for search engines and indexing issues for their algorithms. They have hard time in determining the very URL the webmaster wants to appear in search results.
As follows are some examples of URLs that cause canonicalization issues:

  • A URL without the “www” prefix points to the homepage of the site.
  • When you add the file name, such as “index.html”, to the above URL, it still leads to the same web content.
  • Then add the “www” prefix to the URL and it still goes to that same web page.
  • If you add the file name to the “www” version, the same web content will emerge.

This type of duplicate content issue is further compounded, if a site employs some kind of parameters to track things like sales performance.
Search engines implement URL normalization, so as to give importance to web content and to eliminate indexing of duplicate URLs. This technique enables search bots not to crawl the same web page more than once. However, a site must show its canonical URLs to search spiders, in order for them to do their work better. Neither web designing nor link building can help a website to achieve this. This is where web hosting comes into play. For a webmaster who has the root access to his/her hosting account on a Linux server, it is easy to eliminate any canonicalization issue. In this scenario, simply use Apache Mod_Rewrite to redirect the duplicate URLs to the one you prefer.
If your site’s homepage has such issue, just copy the following code, simply save it as .htaccess, and upload it to the root directory where your site’s files reside:

RewriteEngine on

order allow,deny
allow from all

Rewritecond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [nc]
Rewriterule ^(.*)$$1 [r=301,nc]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$
RewriteRule ^index\.html?$ “http\:\/\/www\.yoursitename\.com\/” [R=301,L]

The above code uses what Apache calls 301 redirect to point undesired duplicate URLs to the desired one. However, if your website is hosted on a Windows server, the only option is to ask your web host to set up the required 301 redirects on your behalf.

IP address:

IP addresses also play a significant role in search engine optimization of websites. In determining link popularity and link value, search engine algorithms put into consideration the number of IP addresses those links come from. They note the IP address of the linking site and that of the linked site. Doing this helps them to identify and fight web spam. It “looks” somehow suspicious to ranking algorithms, if a website has millions of backlinks from other sites that have the same IP address. If tons of your site’s incoming links trigger the spam filter major of search engines because they originate from the same IP address, then those links are worthless in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

A Class C IP address is a form of SEO hosting that enables webmasters to host websites on multiple dedicated IP addresses, in order to gain better ranking in search results pages (SERP). Though not the intention of the original creators, some people use Class C IP addresses to outsmart search engines.

The benefits of Class C IP addresses:

  • Some webmasters use multiple Class C IP addresses to build networks of websites that link to one another, without causing any “stare” from search engines.
  • They help a site’s inbound links to have much more diversity and value than those originating from shared IP addresses.
  • They guarantee far more uptime service than shared IPs.
  • An innocent site that shares an IP address with other clients can be adversely affected, if one site (that doesn’t belong to the same hosting account) causes the IP address to be banned from a certain location.
  • SEO hosting helps to gain better ranking on SERPs for competitive keywords.

Web page loading speed:

Due to the impatience of Internet searchers who expect web pages to load very fast on the browser, Google started in April 2010 to include web page loading speed as its ranking factor. Loading speed also affects the way search engine bots crawl websites. Search engine spiders have in their queues billions of web pages scattered across the globe to crawl, and does not have the patience to wait endlessly for extremely slow loading websites. So, if a site responds too slowly when a search bot arrives, it will abandon the site and move on to the next site.
Luckily Google has a tool called Page Speed located in its Webmaster Tools, which webmasters can freely use to analyze the time their sites take to load. This useful tool also offers recommendations based on its findings. General recommendations include stripping down images, code design and changing to a better web host, to make web pages load faster.
Two techniques Google uses to measure page speed:
- Google uses its toolbar to measure the loading of web pages.
- Response time of a web page to GoogleBot’s query.
Web hosting can have either positive or negative impact on a hosted site’s SEO pursuit. When choosing a host, it is important to consider signing up with one that offers clients the freedom and flexibility to create and modify .htaccess files, doesn’t have any web page loading issue and also allows multiple Class C IP addresses. By now you must have understood the importance of SEO hosting.

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