Does it make a difference to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which Webhost you choose? The answer is a resounding yes; a Webhost can ‘make or break’ your WordPress SEO as well as make your Website easier or more difficult to maintain.
Page load speed and SEO
Google and Bing, the largest Search Engines, have both stated that they consider Page Load Speed (the speed of your Website) as a ranking factor. There are a few clever things that can be done to speed up a Website such as using caching, minifying CSS, using a good Content Delivery Network (CDN), using the best image filetypes etc. but it remains critical to use a fast Host. The reason for this is that some of your content will always load from your Webhost (even if you use a lot of caching and a CDN).
How Google measures Page Load Speed
Google offers a very helpful free service called Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools allows us to see some important information as to how Google crawls our Website and whether it encounters any problems (see the Health section once logged in to see any problems the Google Bot encountered). For awhile now, under the Labs section, we’ve been able to see the speed of our Website under Site Performance.
Because the major Search Engines take Page load speed as a factor in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rankings and that Webhost speed is an important factor in our Page load speed, it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure that choosing a fast Webhost is important.
Visualising Webhost speed
Below is a copy of the Site Performance chart for my Website (lower is better). During the timeline in the chart I’ve used three Australian based Webhosts with servers in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane respectively.
Until the end of May I used a budget Webhost that closed my Webhosting account twice for no reason at all (as a Website designer it isn’t a great impression for my Website not to work!). I then moved to a small host based in a very fast datacentre in Sydney but, as can be seen in the chart, the Page load speed varies wildly … so I ditched that host in July. My current host seems good compared to the past two.
Choosing the Best WordPress Host
Here is what to look for in a good WordPress Webhost:
- Apache or Nginx HTTP server software
- Linux Operating System
- Cpanel (this is the interface to manage your Webhost service)
- Exceed the minimum WordPress requirements
- At least 128MB available PHP memory
It really is worth moving your WordPress Website if your Webhost gives you problems or is too slow.