Where your web hosting provider houses their datacenter for your website can without a doubt play a role in how your website runs, and so it’s important to have a good understanding of where your website is living and why it matters.
The location of your website’s data center can have a variety of negative impacts on your site’s overall performance. Let’s take a look!
What is a Datacenter?
The data center is the physical facility used for housing equipment like servers. This is where the highly-powered servers that host your website live. Datacenters are typically maintained by a web host and are equipped with backup power supplies and security devices.
Website Load Time and Speed
When it comes to a company’s website, time is literally money. Research shows that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if the page takes more than three seconds to load. Slow-loading websites are affecting companies like never before.
One of the biggest determining factors when it comes to your website’s speed has to do with your server’s physical location to your target market. The closer visitors to your website are to the actual web servers, the fewer networks the data will be passing through. In a nutshell, the location of your server will affect how quickly your website will load.
If your target is, say, the United States, and your servers live in the UK, this means the data has to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to your users. Download speed and latency will be slower than if your servers were closer to your target audience.
Slow loading speeds can also have a negative impact on your rankings on search engines. Google, for example, is less likely to rank a page highly if it has a slow loading time. Think about it, Google is another business that wants the best for their users to keep them coming back. If they are constantly directing users to painfully slow websites, users will stop using their search engine. As a result, speed is factored into their ranking algorithms.
Server Location Affects Google Ranking
Slow page loading aside, the geographic location of your servers also has significant ranking factors for organic search engine optimization (SEO). Former Google Search Quality expert, Matt Cutts, has addressed this question. His response was that search engines like Google try to return the most relevant results to users in each company by looking at several factors, including server location. So if your server is located in Germany, Google will think your website is most useful for German users.
With that said, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean it plays a huge role. Search engines like Google take into account that many websites often use distributed content delivery networks (CDNs) or are even hosted in other countries that might have a better server infrastructure. They typically won’t solely rely on the server location.
With the introduction and rising popularity of cloud computing, it’s easy to forget that not all servers are virtual. Physical servers can be prone to physical damage that can, of course, impact your website’s performance.
If you have a server that is located in an area of the world prone to wildfires, earthquakes, or some form of natural disaster, you have to remember that there is a risk that your website could face possible downtime if such a disaster were to occur. You may check Hosting. review’s uptime checker tool to troubleshoot your website in such instances.
The same goes for times of political unrest. If you have a web hosting provider with servers in parts of the world like the Middle East where political tension can occur, you may want to choose a hosting provider with data centers in more stable areas.
Popular Server Locations
The majority of web hosting providers like SiteGround, DreamHost, and HostGator understand the importance of server location and often have multiple data centers strategically located all over the world to ensure the best performance for all of their customers. Quality web hosts make it a priority to constantly upgrade, monitor, and secure their servers by an expert team.
SiteGround alone has data centers in Chicago (USA), London (UK), Amsterdam (Netherlands), and Singapore. This means better performance for their customers and their target audiences who live in and around these areas.
HostGator actually doesn’t give customers an option to choose between their data centers, however, their partner datacenters are PCI and HIPAA compliant, so you’re still in good hands with whatever server you’re on, especially if you are hosting a site offering payment services with credit cards or are hosting a medical website.
If you are interested in any of those hosting providers for yourself, be sure to check these extensive Hostgator and Siteground reviews.
Keep Your Customers Close, but Your Servers Closer
Some companies in the west will opt for web hosting servers that reside in locations like Bangladesh or India to keep costs low due to labor, machinery, and technology being cheaper in these developing markets.
By cutting costs in this way—with servers sitting worlds away from your company’s target audience—sure, you save a buck in the short term, but long-term consequences can result in your business losing customers, so just don’t do it.
You always want to keep servers close to your customers, even if this means paying more. Your customers are the single most important component of your business and should not expect to indulge in a sub-par performing website.