Are you worried whether shared hosting will affect your search engine ranking? Learn how shared web hosting can negatively affect the ranking of your blog.
Most bloggers use shared web hosting to save money on hosting. Typically, in shared web hosting environment, hundreds of websites will be hosted on a single, but powerful server. Lower cost is one of the many advantages of shared hosting.
Shared web hosting and search engine ranking
Shared hosting can affect the search engine ranking of blogs in a number of ways. I have listed the important factors that can affect the search engine ranking.
Loading speed of your website
Google webmaster guidelines suggest that your website should load quickly and should provide a great user experience.
This indicates slow loading can affect your site's ranking.
When you use shared hosting, there will be hundreds of websites hosted on the same server. Hosting companies would stretch the number of sites hosted on each server as much as they can so that they can save money on the server expenses. This could affect the loading time and performance of all the websites hosted on the same server and could affect the user experience.
Increased downtime of shared servers
I have been using shared hosting several years ago. During the initial stages, it worked out well, but the hosting company started adding more and more sites to the servers. Also, many of the websites were not very well designed and developed. Bad script used in such sites could bring the entire server down. I saw our shared server was going offline every few days and finally we switched to a dedicated server.
Modern web servers are very smart and it can isolate the individual sites that cause the servers to go down. Typically the hosting companies will give warnings to the sites that cause trouble to the server, but such incidents would continue to occur from various sites. You should expect an overall increase in downtime when you are sharing a server with many others. Downtime can impact your search engine ranking in several ways. Your loyal users may go away and search engines may fail to crawl your pages if your site is down when they try to crawl your pages. Frequent downtime may make the search engines consider your site as a low importance website.
When a lot of sites are hosted on a server, there are increased security risks. Hackers may target some sites in the shared server and once they get access to it, all sites hosted on the same server could be impacted. This will lead to increased downtime for your site. Also, he hackers might distribute malware through your site or abuse it for various spammy activities, each of which could have its own impact on your site's search engine ranking.
IP address reputation and banning
If the other websites hosted on your shared server are involved in spamming, many hosts may block the IP address. This may impact your site as well. A typical example is, email services. If some sites send out spam emails, many email hosts may block the ip address. This means, emails from your website also will be blocked by email service providers since they are originating from the same Ip address. This is more like a reputation problem than an SEO issue.
Your site will be linked from the pages that shows all sites with same ip addresses.
Ip address white listing
The Ip address of the web hosting servers earns reputation over a period of time. Email services is again an example for this. If your website is sending out lot of emails, email services check the originating ip address as one of several criteria to determine if the email is SPAM or not. In case of shared hosting, it will be very hard to achieve reputation since many other websites are involved and you are not in control of lot of things there.
IP Address whitelisting is a case where you need to get your Ip address whitelisted in some services before you can access their services. When I was trying to implement Google AdSense API revenue sharing, I was asked to give our server IP Address so that it can be whitelisted to access Google servers. In case of shared ip address, such whitelisting may not be possible at all since the other party may not want to take a risk by allowing a server where too many people are using it.
Impact of getting listed along with bad sites
There are several sites that provide details of all websites and many of them publish the list of all websites hosted on the same server. You may be surprised to see that your website is listed along with a list of other porn sites and spammy sites! If there are massive number of bad sites hosted on the same server, you may need to start worrying about your site being listed with bad sites in several places, resulting in negative ranking for your site.
See how a website called "http://www.statscrop.com" displaying the list of all websites hosted on the same ip address:
(Ours is a dedicated server and so all sites hosted on the same server are our websites.)
Video from Matt Cutts on how shared hosting affects search engine ranking
Before I summarize this article on the disadvantages of shared hosting in terms of SEO, listen to this video from Matt Cutts:
According to Matt Cutts, shared web hosting will not affect the search engine ranking of blogs and websites in normal scenario. However, if the hosting server hostings "too many" spammy websites, that could impact the ranking of the good sites hosted in the same IP address. Since you will never know when the number of hosted sites reach the "too many" limit, it is always advisable to be on the safe side and avoid shared hosting if you can.
Alternatives for shared hosting
Even though shared hosting may not affect the ranking directly, if you don't want to take any chances, there are couple of other options:
1. Buy a dedicated IP Address on your shared hosting package: Most hosting companies offer a private IP address for you at a nominal cost of US$ 2 to 3 per month. Even though your sites will continue to be hosted on the shared physical server, the outside world will see it as a completely different system since you have a separate ip address that is not shared with any other sites.
2. Virtual Private Hosting (VPS): In case of VPS hosting, your site will be hosted on a virtual computer that has a dedicated ip address. Most of the problems I mentioned above will not affect the VPS hosted websites. VPS is more expensive than shared hosting but is definitely cheaper than dedicated hosting.
3. If you have very popular websites with lot of traffic, you should definitely consider dedicated web hosting. In this case, you will have a server which hosts only your websites and you will have complete control over it. Your server resources will be used only your websites and will have your own private ip address which will protect you from most of the SEO problems for shared hosting.
Let me summarize. Even though shared hosting may not directly affect the Search Engine Ranking of your blog, it can have many indirect impacts. If you cannot afford a dedicated server or VPS, your best option is to go for a dedicated IP address on shared hosting.