As the owner or manager of a website, should you focus on search engine optimization (SEO) first or finding the right web host?
Both are equally important, but what many people don’t realize is that SEO and web hosting go hand in hand. The best practices for SEO are constantly evolving, and there are many aspects to take into account. The web host you choose can make a big impact on your SEO, so start with that knowledge. Obviously, the organic content, link building and rich media aspects are still up to you. However, SEO is a task that should be constant, not something that is “set and forget”.
The quality (or not) of your web host helps dictate the quality of your SEO. Ask your web host what they do to bolster SEO for their clients and themselves. Here are a few ways SEO and web hosting are bedmates, and why there’s never a “right time” to focus on either:
- Speedy matters: How quickly your website loads is an SEO factor. There are many factors influencing your website loading speed, including your web host. Anytime you choose a shared server over a dedicated server, speed may slow down a bit. However, there are tweaks your web host may be able to do to improve website speed. When shopping around, make sure you ask what measures are taken to speed things up.
- Uptime concerns: Search engine algorithms want to match queries with the best possible website results. The more your website is up, which is dependent on your server, the better your SEO rankings. This is yet another reason why every percentage counts when talking about uptime and downtime. Just being down a few extra seconds can have visitors ditching your website for good.
- URL issues: Web hosts and domain registration are often one and the same. It’s usually a good idea to spring for the .com version of your domain if you can.
Which should come first, the web hosting or SEO? That’s the modern version of the chicken or the egg all over again. You can’t have any type of website without web hosting (at least not one that anyone can see). However, your website may as well not be hosted without appropriate SEO measures. Neither gets preferential treatment, but keep in mind that there are SEO factors beyond your direct control.
A reputable web host will be happy to discuss your SEO concerns with you and proud to show off measures they’re taking to improve SEO for themselves and their clients. If you find a web host who doesn’t want to talk SEO, that’s a red flag. Either they know something’s up, like their lack of uptime, or they’re not familiar with SEO, which also doesn’t bode well for your site.