The process of search engine optimisation starts long before a new site goes live. In fact, selecting the domain name itself could have serious implications for SEO. The next logical step, selection of a hosting company is just as important, but a lot more complicated. This article discusses the most important services and features to look for when choosing a hosting company.
How Does Hosting Affect SEO?
Search engines evaluate all websites based on a number of factors. The evaluation aims to do four main things for the search engine results:
- Ensure quality and relevance of results
- Avoid duplication of results
- Avoid delivery of multiple results from the same basic provider
- Avoid delivery of untrustworthy results
Multiple domains hosted on the same server indicate to the search engines that they might belong to the same company. Similarly, links from multiple domains hosted with the same provider indicate artificial link building with the aim of influencing search results. And websites hosted on blacklisted hosting companies are likely to be unreliable.
However, most importantly, the location of the website host provides the search engine with information about the location of the business and thereby enables it to provide more relevant results based on location of searchers. For example, a website hosted in London is more likely to be relevant to a person searching for a service in London than a website hosted in New York.
What To Look For In a Hosting Company
The following list provides an easy to use list of questions businesses should ask their website hosting companies. The list is not comprehensive, but should be sufficient for most ordinary websites undergoing search engine optimisation. Individual websites often have their own particular requirements which should be addressed in addition to the questions listed here.
- Where exactly are the data centres located
- What sort of control interface is provided
- Can 302 and 301 redirects be set up
- Are custom (404) error pages allowed
- Does the server accept mod_rewrite and mod_alias directives
- Is unrestricted access to the .htacess file provided
- Can raw visitor logs be accessed or downloaded
SEO Friendly UK Hosting Companies
Hostway’s shared hosting service wins top points for their excellent customer service, their flexibility and the fact that they provide all the basic services required for search engine optimisation of any website. Their UK data centres are in London
Dataflame are a value hosting company that also provide very helpful customer service and meet all the requirements of SEO friendly hosting. Their UK data centres are also in London.
UK hosting companies that are bad for SEO
One And One ( 1&1 )
Underneath the smooth operational veneer and claims of being the world’s number 1 web host, lies an infrastructure that could cost your business thousands of pounds. 1&1 are not a UK hosting company! Their data centres are in Germany and hosting a .com website with them will definitely get the site de-listed from Google UK.
Rigidity, lack of most requisites for search engine friendly hosting and poor customer service make the ultra-low-cost Streamline Net service a very undesirable choice for any site that plans to promote itself through natural search optimisation.
Even though FastHosts are probably the most popular hosting provider in the UK, their service is very inflexible – probably the perils of fame & size – and they do not provide a lot of the basic SEO prerequisites.
It is important to note that every hosting company has its merits and demerits. At the time of writing this article, the companies listed above either passed or did not pass AccuraCast’s checklist of SEO friendly hosting companies. That does not mean, though, that they might or might not be the right hosting company for your specific needs.