7 Ways Your Site's Server Can Kill Your Rankings!

Servers are so often the last thing business owners consider when it comes to a number one spot in Google. After all, they're just supposed to work, right? After all your effort with content, title tags, creating reviews, building links, blogging and creating the perfect landing pages...why should you have to worry about your server too?

Here at Red Sneakers, one of the very first questions we ask a new client is...

"Who is hosting your site and what type of server is it on?"

Most of the time we get answers that like, "Umm, I'd have to look that up" or that "it's taken care of..."

So, I am asking you... What type of server is your website on? Is a friend of your cousin hosting it for you? Do you know where it is being hosted? What platform?

Let me explain the role servers play with your website. Think of your server like a catamaran powerboat. You want power, speed and reliability. When your visitors come to your site, they expect a fast ride that takes them exactly where they want to go. Here are the facts you need in order to be confident the next time someone asks you that server question.

Here are the 7 essential topics to consider when focusing on your server:

  • Platform - There are two choices today in regards to a web host server platform operating systems:
    Unix/Linux based - Unix based is the server operating system of choice for most small to medium size business websites because the lower cost of software and capabilities is much greater.
    Windows based - The Windows Platform is used more often by larger businesses that operate their own servers and have an IT staff to manage the site. Very frequently small businesses that use a server with a Windows based operating system are at a disadvantage because they take more tech knowledge.
  • Hosting Package - The costs for most hosting packages start around $5.95/month for a very simple account with limited disc space and bandwidth and up to hundreds or thousands a month based on features, disc space, bandwidth and the level of tech support offered. It's very important to examine the packages closely when making this decision, and especially watch closely for fees charged if you run over your allotted disk space, bandwidth or other similar account limitations.
  • Shared or Dedicated - Unless you operate a high traffic website, in most cases a dedicated server is overkill. The vast majority of websites use a shared server space that run multiple domains on the same box. Dedicated servers certainly cost a lot more, but allow quite a bit more room for control and customization. If you do use a shared server, look for the ability to add additional domains to your account, and unique IP addresses for each domain are a nice benefit to some packages.
  • Security - There have been rampant problems with malware affecting websites in the last year, which makes server security a very important aspect of choosing a host. The trick is to find a host that does a good job with security, but doesn't go so overboard that working on your site is a nightmare when trying to install software. The best advice we can give you here is to discuss the host with others that use them or have used them in the past. You won't likely read about how their security is setup on their website, so you won't know about it until you're pulling your hair out at 3am trying to get a blog or forum program installed and working.
  • Support - Warning! There are a lot of domain "resellers" out there who, after you sign up for a package, are impossible to get ahold of for help - until it's time to renew or pay your bill. Look for a support team that is local and offers both email and phone support. Typically, if you can find a reliable company that is local, you will get much better service than a national company who will keep you on hold forever. The local person has to face you from time to time, and you will know of their reputation in the community.
  • Subdomains - support.yourdomain.com - Your subdomain can be hosted on the same server as your root domain or you can use an "A" record DNS entry to point the subdomain to another IP, which could be on another server. A CNAME DNS entry would enable you to point your subdomain to another server entirely. Also check on what it costs and what is required in order to add a subdomain or to 301 redirect an extra domain with your prospective host.
  • Speed - This is and always will be a top priority issue that effects your conversion rates, bounce rate as well as your search rankings. It is now a part of Google's algorithm, so it should be a top priority for your site's SEO as well. Having an optimized server to deliver images is very important in the speed process.

There are other factors in having your site deliver good SEO, but beginning with a good, strong foundation is key. The old saying that "A house built on sand cannot stand" holds true with a good strong website as well.

Our recommendations:

Monitis - Critical uptime monitoring and downtime alerts.

RedSneakers.domains - reliable web hosting and support for average users.

RedSneakers.works - reliable dedicated hosting for the tech savvy.

Website Audit - one time tune up to diagnose your site

Which boat would you choose to ride in to get you where you want to go... a dingy or a catamaran powerboat?