How To Change Web Hosts Without Affecting SEO

8 minutes read
How to Change Web Hosts without affecting SEO

The number of internet users increased to 4.1 billion in January, 2019 from 3.42 billion users in 2016.

With so much traffic around, marketers constantly upgrade search engine optimization techniques to attract maximum users to their websites. The incorporation of the right SEO technique also plays a key role in boosting SERP ranking for websites.

Furthermore, a change in web hosting platforms has been considered important to improve website performance. An appropriate SEO-friendly web-hosting platform helps users access websites effortlessly and contributes towards improving website discoverability over search queries.

As we understand, website performance heavily depends on the web host. A smoothly operating website, in turn, ranks better on SERPs.

Does Switching Website Hosts Affect SEO?

Switching hosts can impact a few essential aspects of the website like:

1. Website Page Speed

Google algorithms prefer websites with lesser loading time. Moreover, users are attracted to responsive websites.

Google/SOASTA Research states that the bounce rate increases to 32% as the page loading time increases from 1s to 3s.

Google/SOASTA Research - Bounce Rate Increases to 32% as The Page Loading Time Increases

When considering a change of web host, assessing the page loading speed is pivotal. Popular SEO hosting companies may not necessarily provide a faster loading website. This is because the website speed decreases with the increasing number of users. As popular SEO hosts may accommodate numerous users, it may not offer the optimal page loading speed.

Opting for a shared environment due to budget constraints can leave you in a similar situation. Instead, it is better to consider Linux VPS hosting plans such as SSD Linux VPS plans that outperform shared hosting accounts.

2. Webpage Downtime

Website Downtime Hurts Business Reputation

Switching site location is accompanied by downtime. This usually happens when a website is awaiting a DNS to propagate. This process takes 24 to 72 hours. This downtime can drastically hit the ranking of websites.

To avoid this, it is best to have the website running on the old host with a duplicate of the website on the new host, till a DNS has been fully propagated. After the DNS propagation has been done, the website can be completely shifted to the new host.

3. Website Structure

Website Structure Matters For Ranking

It is recommended to have a duplicate of the original website because Google crawlers consider website structure for ranking. If a search engine crawler finds an additional component on the site map of the new website, it may be a problem for the ranking of the website. The new website structure may result in the crawler mistaking it as a whole new site.

Matt Cutts states that crawlability is a priority to avoid indexing problems on Google.

4. Server Location

Google provides search results based on geographic relevance.

For example, if a search query is from the USA, Google believes to provide relevant results by prioritizing results from websites within the USA. Initially, Google relied on TLD (Top Level Domain) to accomplish this, but now it has also begun to obtain inputs from IP addresses to determine the location of search queries.

When switching web hosts, the location of servers should be considered. If the website targets the audience from the USA, the web host server must be located in the USA. Else, it may hit hard on the rank of the website.

5. Server Quality

The server quality of the new web host should be assessed thoroughly. If the server is overcrowded and the new site is to be hosted on a shared server, it may negatively impact the website performance on SERPs.

So, how to switch web hosts without pulling down SEO?

Here are a few aspects to consider before changing the website host.

1. Choose the Best-Suited Host after Research

Finding a competent hosting company will need exhaustive research. Begin with looking for positive reviews or references from other companies. A few other factors to consider here are:

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the new host is compatible with your required technical specifications. Check that the operating system, supported web technology, and coding are facilitated.
  • Bandwidth: Look into the bandwidth offered by the company, services provided, and limitations. Few hosting companies do not offer unlimited bandwidth and also set their limits very low. In such cases, if access to the website is denied, it may harm the website ranking.
  • Consider the technical support: Ensure that the choice of the hosting company is steered away from spammers and questionable content. Your website may also be categorized as spam if hosted on the same platform.
  • Uptime-Downtime: Opt for a platform that has a history of offering high speed and minimal downtime. If a search engine bot accesses the website during its downtime, there is a possibility that it may pull down the ranking of the website due to its inaccessibility.

2. Cautiously Select the Location of Hosting Server

It is best to choose a host considering the geographical location of the target audience. Google tends to provide search results based on the location of websites. If the website is hosted on a server in a different geographical location, there is a possibility that Google may push down the website on the search results ranking.

According to research, 46% of all Google searches are local intent. This shows why search query location remains the priority.

For example, if you were to target the customer base in the UK, your website should be hosted on a server that is located in the UK. Google determines search results based on the geographical versions of websites to yield the best results.

3. Update TTL of DNS Records

The Domain Name System (DNS) maps the domain names of the IP addresses. The IP addresses are the addresses of the servers that host the website. When a change of hosts takes place, the DNS differs. This change takes 24 to 72 hours to be updated. If the domain registrar allows, this DNS change can be accomplished faster. By doing this a day before the DNS switch is scheduled, the visitors and search engines will be automatically directed to the new server facilitating uninterrupted website performance.

4. Change DNS Records

The process of switching hosting platforms is complete with an update of DNS records. This includes an update of the name server records. Also, the change in DNS records of the domain reflects on the emails. So if email accounts are being switched to a new hosting company, they need to be set accordingly. 

5. Create Backup

During the transition of DNS records, it is recommended that the old server be kept intact for a day or two until the new server is fully active. Since search engines update DNS records once in two days, the old server will take charge of the SEO. After the stipulated two days, the old server can be removed completely.

Having said this let us get to know about the best web hosting for SEO options.

A few of the best SEO web hosting options for websites are:

1. SiteGround:

Best Seo Web Hosting Options - Siteground Hosting

The advantages of SiteGround include:

  • Daily backups with all plans at no extra cost
  • Unmatched reliability
  • 24/7 customer support through live chat, phone, and email.
  • 10-minutes live chat response
  • 30-day money-back offer
  • Unmetered traffic

2. Bluehost:

best seo web hosting options - bluehost hosting

The advantages of Bluehost Hosting are:

  • Unlimited Web Space
  • Unmetered Bandwidth
  • Free domain
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Website Statistics

3. WP Engine

best seo web hosting options - wpengine hosting

The pros of WP Engine are:

  • Fast Page Speeds
  • Multiple Data Centers
  • Website Security
  • Latest Tools & Plugins
  • Tailored for WordPress websites

4. Wix

Best Seo Web Hosting Options - Wix Hosting

The advantages of Wix are:

  • Inbuilt SEO assistant
  • Site builder with appealing templates
  • SSL certificate with all plans
  • A user-friendly, drag-and-drop site builder

Wrapping Up

Though changing web hosts may seem like a simple task, it includes several cardinal aspects that can deeply affect the functioning of a website. The above-mentioned factors will give you a sneak peek into the intricacies to be considered when deciding upon a change in the web host.

Having troubles switching webhost? Contact our experts now!!

  • Vijay Suthar is the IT Head and Partner responsible for Infrastructure & Server Administration at E2M. He has 10+ years of cross-platform experience in Systems Administration and holds a Master's degree in Computer Application, along with being a Microsoft-certified IT professional. He specializes in managing IT infrastructure, networking, web hosting, and database servers, including Cloud Computing, with superior troubleshooting and technical support abilities in migrations, network connectivity, security, and database applications.