There’s hundreds of things needed to achieve a good google ranking. Having relevant content, proper use of titles and keywords etc. In this area, we’re a huge fan of Yoast SEO and ensure that all our client sites are expertly configured with this free plugin. We then provide links to various tutorials and training to ensure you know all the tricks. No need to hire an ‘SEO guru’.
But, site speed is also a big factor in search ranking. When it comes to online, a slow host means it’s annoying not just to site visitors but also Google, who is essentially your online salesman, typically providing at last half of your site traffic. And WordPress sites are often the slowest ones we find online, not so much because WordPress application itself is bad, but simply because the images or sliders used are often poorly optimised and the site is running on a cheap shared hosting plan from Openhost, Freeparking, Bluehost, Hostpapa, Hostgator, Godaddy, etc, simply to save money. They ignore the effect their hosting selection will have on their reputation, ranking, traffic and sales.
The clearest example of the trouble you can get into was a new client site we moved earlier this year. Complaining of a very slow WordPress site of 500+ pages, could I help? Certainly, but you’ll need to move off your cheap shared host provider (Openhost in this case), onto something better. I did note he’d already done all the right things with the site, including trying caching plugins etc. But little helped.
Check Your Webmaster or GTMetrix Stats
His response times (according to the Google webmaster tools crawl stats), varied from 3 to 25 seconds, averaging around 7 seconds, when the site was actually working. We quickly moved him to a fast SSD cloud server, optimised for WordPress. GTMetrix is another great service to check your speed, but login and use the Australia site which gives more accurate figures for NZ domains.
This migration, done in a morning, instantly reduced his site response time down to a consistent one second. With some monitoring and further tweaks over the next month, I reduced this still further. But, the best part, within 24 hours, Google and other search bots actually started to crawl his site properly for the first time in years, with a huge increase in pages and posts now crawled, from 1 to 150 pages/day in this case.
What very few people or developers appreciate, is that if you have a very slow website on a slow host, it not only annoys users, but the search bots will start to ignore you too, meaning your superb content won’t be indexed, meaning you won’t get found.
Even if Google appears to be indexing your website it may not be updating regularly or doing a decent crawl, since your site is not responding well. Submitting your site to Google and running Yoast SEO and various caching plugins won’t help a bit. Your host is the problem here…
So, why wouldn’t you want the fastest host?
Here’s an extract from a developer conference a while back, where one development company discussed their frustrating experience with a slow host with erratic performance. In this case, Amazons EC2 cloud, which has a patchy reputation, as well as being expensive. Many IT geeks recommend it as it’s highly configurable, scalable and robust. But absolute speed is more elusive (and costly) on Amazon hosts. See video below…
What’s a millisecond you ask? Less then the blinking of an eye. And this guy had a site with less the 0.2 seconds load time, when the industry average is over 2.0 seconds – And with business site loaded up with big images, fancy sliders etc, is commonly 4-6 seconds. Yikes! Often, overtaking your competitors in user retention and search ranking, may be just a matter of optimising site content and a fast host.
This site, for example is running on a cloudways cloud server, costing me just US$25/mth, being under half the cost of most local VPS servers.
All hosts are not the same..
Most people just assume that ‘all web hosts are the same’ and those that charge more are simply ‘ripping us off’. The cheapest deal from the biggest names is a safe choice most think. But the reality is that hosting does vary immensely, with hundreds of differing configurations and costs involved. And you do get what you pay for. A common $25/mth shared account on openhost/freeparking/net24 is typically under half the speed of a $50/mth mini VPS host, which is around half the speed of a $100/mth managed, optimised, VPS/SSD host.
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