Website owners may not be aware that server location is an important factor in SEO. A host server location in a country other than the website owner's target country can be severely detrimental to a website's search engine ranking. This will then negatively affect the site's web traffic and business. If a business owner's website does not have a country-specific domain name, search engines use the location of a website's host server to determine country affiliation. For national versions of search engines, a website's country affiliation is crucial in determining search results. Therefore, website owners without country-specific domain names should avoid hosting their site on foreign-based servers.
Web hosting companies often cut costs by basing their servers in foreign countries. They may then entice website owners with inexpensive hosting without disclosing the location of their servers. Website owners may assume that the hosting company is based in their country when it actually outsources its servers. They may believe that the location of the servers is unimportant. However, for many website owners, server location is crucial to their website's search engine ranking.
Search engines come in various national versions. National versions of search engines help users find websites in their native language and relevant to their location. For instance, Google.de is available to users specifically in Germany, Google.co.uk to users in the United Kingdom, Google.fr in France, etc. Users in such countries are much more likely to use their respective national version of Google than the international Google.com. Such country-specific search engines rank results according to their country affiliation. In order to earn a high search ranking by their target country's search engine, a website must show affiliation with that country as well as search relevance.
A search engine determines the country affiliation of a website in two ways. First, it considers the website's domain name. Country-specific domain suffixes include .de, .fr, and .co.uk. A country-specific domain suffix automatically signals affiliation with a country, regardless of server location. For example, Google.de will determine that a website with the suffix .de is affiliated with Germany, even if the site is hosted by a server in a different country.
However, many domain names do not signify a particular country. These include the popular domain suffixes .com, .org, and .net. If a website does not have a country-specific domain name, the search engine uses the website's host server location to determine its country affiliation. To illustrate, according to Google.de, a website with a generic .net domain suffix hosted by a server in a country other than Germany has no affiliation to Germany. It will have a low search engine ranking on Google.de. The website may not even show up on the first several pages of results. This completely sabotages SEO if Germans are the website's target viewers.
National versions of search engines also offer the option of searching only for websites within the searcher's own country, as opposed to the entire web. If searchers choose this option, a website without affiliation to that country will not show up in search results at all. Thus, when British users do a search on Google.co.uk and choose to display only websites in the UK, a site without either a .co.uk suffix or a UK-based host server will be completely absent from search results. Conversely, a website without the suffix .co.uk but still hosted by a server in the UK will have a high search engine ranking. Website owners should take this into account when choosing a domain name and host server location.
If a website owner determines that their website has a low search engine ranking due to its host server location, changing web hosting is relatively easy. It is usually well worth any time and money invested. Paying a little more for web hosting on a server located in the business's target country can work wonders for a website's search engine ranking and greatly improve business.
A business owner seeking a bargain web hosting company may not ask any questions about server location. He or she may assume that only the price of web hosting is important, or that if the web hosting company is based in their target country, the servers must be as well. However, servers are often located in foreign countries due to lower costs for web hosting companies. National versions of search engines rank websites according to country affiliation and allow users to filter results by country. In the case of a non-country-specific domain name, country affiliation is determined by host server location. Owners of websites without country-specific domain names should ensure that their site is hosted by a server in their target country. Their efforts will be paid back in plenty with enhanced SEO and business.