Website hosting location and SEO – its importance to your website rankings, traffic and consequent success is another thing the web hosting company forgot to tell you about…
An aspect overlooked by many site owners, and one that gets minimal coverage in web design or SEO articles etc is that most articles are not written by an expert local (Auckland/ Christchurch) SEO consultant, but by people in the USA. They are therefore written from “The Outside, Looking In.” However, if you happen to be like many site owners in the world, “On The Inside, Looking Out,” the view is slightly different!
Web Location, Search Localisation & SEO
The problem here is the “decentralisation” of search – the way in which the major search engines have split their indexes up into country-specific search opportunities. Google (and other SEs) know where you are because of the IP address allocated to your PC. They know this because IP addresses are allocated in numeric blocks or ranges, by country. There are significant impacts on both searchers and on businesses, of this search decentralisation process. This is both a blessing and a curse, depending on where you are, where your site is, what you offer, where your customers are, and whether you are a searcher, or a site owner.
Site Location & Page Load Speed
It should be easy to grasp the fact that if you are selling products and services in Auckland NZ, your pages will load much faster for your customers if your website is actually physically located in Auckland NZ. As distinct from Utah USA… Every second counts… page speed optimisation is a search engine ranking factor.
Full-service Managed Web Hosting
I can speak with some authority in the subject because I provide full-service, managed website hosting for those clients who are comforted by having one point of contact for fixing everything. My hosting reseller service is on a fast Litespeed-based server physically located in the USA. It is provided by one of the world’s leading data centre/hosting companies. Their Technical Support teams are superb. They underpin my website maintenance services for my fully managed, full-service website hosting at Hosting-SE-Asia.co. For New Zealand clients, I implement Cloudflare to boost performance.
Geo-IP Location & Searcher’s Location
For a searcher in the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand, you will have noticed a while back that your Google sessions automatically default to Google.co.uk, Google.com.au, or Google.co.nz, depending on the respective country in which you reside. Searchers in the USA are blissfully unaware of this phenomenon… The results of your search will also be biased towards sites physically located within your geographic area. Therefore, if you were to do the same search on the different country-specific versions of Google, you would usually get different results – sometimes substantially different, depending on the competitiveness of the particular search within those countries, and globally.
Physical Location, Site Owners & SEO
For a business located in the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand, you are effectively competing on far more even terms with sites from your own geographic “web space” than previously. However, if you have a focus on delivering products or services within your own specific geographic region, but use a .COM domain name (or .info, .net etc) it is essential that your website’s IP address be within the specific Country’s IP Address Range or switch to a local CCTLD.
This means that your site should be physically located on a server in the UK, AU or NZ web space. If you’ve opted for cheap hosting on a server located in the USA, or Asia etc, you have effectively shot yourself in the foot, and severely prejudiced your chances of attaining top search engine rankings in your preferred web space.
Conversely, for a business located in the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand, with a focus on delivering products or services in another specific geographic region, you should have your website physically located on a server in that country to gain the most traction in your search engine rankings. In so doing, you should also ensure that your offshore site adheres to local language conventions, spellings and usage. E.g. if you are selling paint in the USA, you should use the Americanized “color” and not the Queens English “colour” as would be done in the UK or NZ. All of this should also be considered in light of local search strategies.
NB: If you have a .co.nz (or .co.uk, .com.au) Domain – you can host it anywhere and it will remain associated with your country’s search data set!
The effect of this for a New Zealand business with a .com domain, hosted in the USA, is that you are EXCLUDED from Search Engine Results Pages if the searcher specifies “Search: pages from New Zealand”
Local Search – Global Localisation
If you are a business that has a significant actual or potential client base in more than one country, it makes sound business sense to also register www.yourbiz.co.uk and www.yourbiz.com.au – and other country variants you might require. You can then build a global network of mini-sites customised specifically for those markets. By careful linking between those sites, and making them complementary by ensuring that the content is not simply duplicated (and therefore in breach of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines) you should be able to generate significant additional traffic and business. Obviously, a fundamental of local search optimisation is a presence in the location you are targeting.
If you require a business website SEO quote, with or without a hosting and website management plan, I’d love you hear from you.
Hosting Location References
Page last updated on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 by the author Ben Kemp