What is web hosting location?
Every website, blog or every a single webpage is hosted on a webserver that connects to the internet. A webserver is a computer connected to the internet which is owned by a webhosting company ( in most cases, unless you have your own webservers ). A webserver is a computer connected to InterNet.
That computer or webserver is located in some country. It has a specific IP address, and from that IP address, it is possible to know in which country or sity or town the webserver is located. The location of your webserver is known as a Web Hosting location.
Search engines ( Google , Yahoo and MSN ) know where your Web site is hosted based on your webserver location and IP details. Your site is ranked according to domain extension and web server location or the IP address location as mentioned above. Now, if you move the site or your domain to another server or a Web Hosting company you first need to know where the web server is located. The location of your webhosting company is an important factor in your search engine ranking
Let me give you an illustration of how a web hosting location can affect your search engine ranking.
Website www.ABC.com was selling shoes, hosted in USA and targeted US visitors, the domain extension is .com This is an ideal situation, where we have a USA domain extension .com targeting USA visitors and hosted on web server located in USA. Over 75 % of the traffic to this site was from search engines, namely Google, Yahoo and MSN with the high search ranking on all the three engines.
Now, for some strange reason the company decides to host its site in India where it has its offshore development team. They move their site to servers hosted in India. Now, one month later, the search ranking situation is completely different:
- Google indexes site pages in Google India since the site is hosted in India it assumes that it targets Indian visitors, visits from Google.com come down by 30 – 40 % . The site in Google.com moves to 5 and 6 pages.
- Yahoo India starts to show ranking for the website on 2 nd and 3 rd page. Yahoo.com searches reduce by 30 %
Similar trends are shown by MSN.com
Now lets understand what exactly happened here and why the site showed a decrease in visits from US searches. After site IP changes, all the three search engines showed a decrease in indexed pages. The search results were lower as some of the pages were deindexed.
Site is now receiving 60-70% less traffic from search engines inspite of search engine optimisation and most of visitors now are from India and other international IPs. For site targeted to USA market that is, in simple words not targetted traffic. Now, even by increasing the backlinks the site results from search engine rankings did not increase, Google started to give low value to backlinks from US sites as it did not determine it to be valuable.
Backlinks from India based sites were now more valuable to Google. Due to a small number of India based sites operating in the same niche industry, the website was not very popular even on India based search results. Onsite search engine optimization like meta tags don’t help much here as the search engines don’t understand where the site is located by reading the Meta tags but it can give you targeted traffic for a particular keyword search.
It is well known that search engines are using GeoTargeting to list sites related to visitor’s IP (country) and this is one of the most important factors in ranking. The search engines also look for language used on website and server location. For the above site, English language and hosting in India, show that the site is targeting the indian market.
So, to target USA market, com domain, web server hosting location in USA, English language, links from sites (.com, .net) hosted in US are of prime value and importance to Google.
To target UK market, domain co.uk , English web server hosting location in UK, links from UK domains are of prime value and importance to Google.
To target Canada market, .ca domain, English web hosting located in Canada, links from Canadian domains are of prime value and importance to Google.
Targeting Local Markets
Due to cheap web hosting, many international sites are hosted in USA but this could be a problem for search engine and SERP. If you are targeting some other country, use domain with that country extension, get links from other sites hosted in that country, link to other sites in that country, use local language and keywords. The state for the hosting is not important, moving the site to a web server located in a different state can only show you a small difference.
The right target audience is important for your site, so target your visitors better, localize you content. Get a domain name with an appropriate extension based on your target market, host your site located in the country that you are targeting, get links for related sites and use local keywords. If you have an affiliate website or blog this becomes important. You won’t get any traffic from Google hosting your site in India and targeting US visitors.