Hosting and SEO: the ground to build a successful site

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Good hosting is crucial to building a reliable and successful website: this may sound like a trite phrase, yet the role this service plays within the complex mechanism of overall management of an online project is often overlooked. To use a simile, if we imagine a website as a house, hosting is the ground on which we build it: without a ground, we cannot build a house, and without hosting we cannot create a website. However, we cannot choose just any space: the ground must be solid and secure to support the house, because if it is unstable or exposed to external criticality, it could cause it to collapse, just as unstable hosting or subject to frequent outages could make the site inaccessible or malfunction, compromising the visitor experience. In short, land-or rather hosting-is not all the same, and choosing one over another can have a significant impact on site performance and, ultimately, online visibility.

What is a web hosting

In essence, web hosting is the service that provides the space on a server where a website’s files live and breathe.

The English term comes from the verb to host, which can be translated as “to host,” and describes precisely what this service means, which provides space on a server to store the files that make up a website, making it accessible via the Internet. In practice, when we purchase a hosting service we are precisely hosted by a server of a hosting provider, which rents us some space to allow us to store the files of our site and transmit them online.

This server is a computer that is always on and connected to the Internet – 24/7 – thus allowing anyone in the world to access the site at any time. In fact, when a user types your website address into the browser, the server sends the website files to the user’s browser, which displays them on the monitor.

What is hosting for and why is it important

Hosting is therefore critical to an online presence: without it, a website would not be available and users would not be able to view and navigate its pages.

In a sense, hosting hosts all the files, images, videos, and content that make up our site, and it provides a way to implement communication between these resources and users, allowing browsers access through connection to the server that hosts the site and downloads the files needed to view it.

Web hosting is not just a place to store the site’s files, then, because it is primarily what allows the site to be accessible on the Internet continuously, and a reliable hosting service prevents its site from being inaccessible or slow to load, which could drive visitors away.

In addition, the hosting provider we choose can have a significant impact on the performance of the project: for example, as we will see, some solutions offer faster loading times, better security, high uptime, and better technical support than others, and these are elements to evaluate to make sure we choose the best web hosting service.

The types of hosting: what they are and what features they have

Speaking of choosing the best hosting, before even finding out what providers are, it is important to know that there is not just one type of service available. On the contrary, there are different types of hosting, each with its own peculiarities: shared hosting, for example, is like a large apartment building where several websites share the same server, and it has the advantage of being an inexpensive solution, but one that can lead to performance problems if one of the “housemates” starts consuming too many resources.

On the other side of the spectrum is dedicated hosting, which is like having a “private mansion,” with a server all to ourselves, with the resources at our total disposal, which obviously equates to higher performance, but inevitably also higher cost.

Between these two extremes, there are various intermediate options, such as VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, which offers a balance between cost and performance, and cloud hosting, which provides almost infinite scalability, allowing the site to grow without space or resource constraints.

It is therefore useful to have a mirror to consult in order to learn about the main types of hosting, discover their peculiarities and limitations, and also begin to evaluate how each solution can affect site performance and, consequently, SEO performance as well.

  • Free hosting

There are several platforms that offer free hosting, including, Wix, and Weebly, and thus allow you to host a website on a server at no cost. These services can be an attractive option for those new to website creation, for a personal Web site, for bloggers, or for those on a tight budget, but they are not advisable for larger sites or those with commercial goals because they inevitably have a number of limitations and pain points.

For example, free hosting providers often place their own advertising on the site (it is the form of making money from the service), or they have strict limits on storage space, bandwidth and processing capacity, which could cause problems if the site grows or if it receives a high volume of traffic. Again, there is less control over features and settings: we may not be able to use a custom domain or have limited access to your site’s features, as well as having limited support in terms of service and, in general, less “certain” reliability (with more frequent downtime or site loading slowly).

  • Shared hosting

Shared hosting is the cheapest and easiest type of hosting to use, with plans that are affordable in price and suitable for beginners – and in fact is the most frequent initial choice for small Web sites.

As the name suggests, the main feature of this solution lies in sharing: in other words, a site is hosted on the same server as other sites, with which it shares server resources, such as CPU, RAM and storage space. In this way, it is possible to contain economic costs and benefit from an easy-to-use and low-maintenance facility, although there are some downsides, particularly on performance and thus on SEO.

The first limitation of shared hosting is that there is less control over server resources, and sometimes even less functionality available; even worse, however, the performance of our website could be negatively affected by the other sites hosted on the same server. For example, if one of the sites on the server receives a large spike in traffic, it could cascade to slow down our project.

In short, although shared hosting is a practical and convenient solution for those who are just entering the Web world or those who manage small sites, it reveals some downsides and disadvantages for SEO and beyond.

  • VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server, hosted on a virtual private server) hosting is a more modern and advanced solution than shared hosting: in this case, in fact, there is still sharing a physical server with other websites but-and herein lies the difference-with the availability of a virtual dedicated server that hosts the website. The VPS is a physical server that has been divided into multiple virtual servers, which become individual partitions distributed among the various clients. In practical terms, VPS hosting gives access to all virtual server resources, such as CPU, RAM, and storage space, offers more control over server resources, ensures better performance, and reduces the possibility that traffic from another website could affect the loading speed and SEO of our project. The possible sticking points are mainly related to the practical aspects: VPS hosting is usually more expensive than shared hosting and requires more maintenance and management skills.

  • Dedicated hosting

Hosting on a dedicated server literally means this: we have an entire physical server at our disposal, 100% dedicated to our site in all its resources, such as CPU, RAM and storage space. This means optimal performance, more uptime, faster speeds, complete control over server settings to make sure the site runs well all the time, and maximum number of features available. Clearly, all of this comes at a cost, and indeed dedicated hosting is the most expensive and advanced type of hosting, even in terms of management and maintenance expertise, and is the ideal solution for enterprise-sized sites that face high traffic peaks (e.g., e-commerce) and can “afford” the infrastructure investment.

  • Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is a system that uses cloud technology to store and distribute website files, which are then hosted on multiple remote servers located in various parts of the world. This technology makes the site more resilient and reliable: if one of the servers has a problem, the other servers on the network will take over, ensuring functionality. In addition, cloud hosting also offers greater scalability than other types, providing the ability to easily increase or decrease site resources as needed. On another positive note, this type of hosting is ideal for ensuring high uptime, although it does require a certain amount of experience and technical skills for configuration and management.

  • Managed hosting

Managed hosting meets a specific need: to support companies that do not have the time, resources or technical expertise to manage their website from an infrastructural point of view as well. With this solution, in fact, in our support comes a team of professionals, because the provider-the hosting company-takes on much of the work, such as hardware and software configuration, maintenance, technical support with troubleshooting, and updating and monitoring the CMS. Managed hosting is obviously more expensive than other forms (but still within the budget of most small and medium-sized businesses) and may limit the flexibility of the project, but on the other hand, it has the advantages of easier management, scalability, and less burdensome maintenance; in addition, the support of a web hosting provider could allow for improvement in such aspects as site speed, reduction of downtime, and other performance-related factors.

Hosting and site performance, a direct relationship

When it comes to studying and creating a Web site, companies typically invest a lot of time and resources in design, development, digital marketing, and SEO, but Web hosting is an area that tends to be underestimated and underestimated. In other words, there is usually a risk of investing a lot (and rightly so) to make sure that the site looks good and can intercept traffic, but the same care is not devoted to the expense required to ensure that the site is also fast, functional and flexible.

Indeed, this is the purpose and function of hosting, which can have a direct relationship to the performance of the online project: to summarize, relying on high-quality hosting can positively influence returns, enabling, for example, maximized conversion rates and improved user experience.

In fact, an effective and stable server system can accompany the performance of the website, making it faster and more reliable, while conversely, an overloaded or even simply slow server can cause slowdowns in the loading of pages and resources, causing frustration in visitors and incentivizing them to browse elsewhere-that is, causing an increase in the abandonment rate.

Turning to more technical aspects, good hosting can avoid the risks associated with server downtime, i.e., situations in which the site “crashes” and becomes unreachable for visitors, in which we risk losing potential sales and also jeopardize the relationship with customers, who, unable to navigate the site, may consider it unreliable. Any site can experience some downtime, but it is necessary to minimize it: a host with an uptime guarantee puts us on the safe side that this problem will rarely or almost never occur.

How important is the choice of hosting for SEO?

It is already clear from what has been written that there is a relationship, at least indirectly, between hosting and SEO.

Let’s first get into the territory of Core Web Vitals, the set of metrics introduced by Google to measure user experience on the web, which evaluate elements such as page load time, visual stability, and interactivity in relation to the user’s perceived level of quality, and poor quality hosting can have a negative impact on all of these areas.

For example, if the server is slow to respond, the page load time will increase, negatively affecting the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric; similarly, an unstable or overloaded server could cause visual stability problems, affecting the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric, but also on interactivity as measured by First Input Delay (FID) or Interaction to Next Paint (INP), delaying the loading of the JavaScript files needed to make the site interactive.

As we know, then, page loading speed matters a lot for SEO, which also ties in with reputation: any Web site that takes more than three seconds to load will lose users, which means fewer conversions and less revenue.

Another relevant aspect, server downtime also affects SEO: if crawlers crawl the site during one of these down phases, it could (a remote, but nonetheless existing hypothesis) lead to temporary de-indexing, but also more realistically reduce the frequency of crawling by Google, which would also lead to a reduction in the crawl budget-in either case, bad news for SEO.

Less intuitive are considerations related to the geographical location of the server – in principle, we should choose a server “close” to the main business area and the area of greatest interest to users, because there may be a relationship between data travel distance and speed. Using an inexpensive web host may result in not being located in a local data center, and this can have a potentially negative impact on the Web site. To simplify, if our company is located in the United States, it would be preferable for the Web site to be located in the U.S. data center, while a company operating in the United Kingdom should opt for a U.K. data center. If we operate globally, the most practical and efficient solution is probably to rely on a CDN that offers worldwide hubs, so that hosting is fast regardless of the user’s location.

And so, on the one hand, quality hosting can improve website performance, making it faster and more reliable, in line with the demands of Google, which positively rates sites that offer performance guarantees; then, on the other hand, an effective host structure can improve the user experience on the site, another factor that can lead to increased traffic and improved rankings in Google search results.

More generally, then, choosing a good host solution allows us to focus our attention and time “only” on SEO work and less on the server and performance issues that might be associated with a weaker hosting service.

This is also true on the security front: without a strong protection system, a site can run into malicious problems such as hacks, spam pages, malware infections, or other similar critical issues, which can hurt rankings and potentially result in manual action, especially in the case of compromises serious enough to “merit” blacklisting by search engines or the posting of a security warning in search results. Some of the major web hosting providers therefore provide SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), a security certificate that is now the standard technology for keeping Internet connections secure.

But security also correlates from being able to count on reliable technical support and customer service, features that can make all the difference at critical moments: when something doesn’t work, uploads are long and slow, or the site crashes, it is important to know that you can contact the host and resolve problems quickly and efficiently, also reducing the worry or panic that comes with these situations.

How to choose the best web hosting

In short, the choice of website hosting is one element that can prove crucial to the fate of our project, and there are so many variables to consider to avoid making mistakes.

Usually, most companies choose a host based on factors such as price and bandwidth, without ever considering the more technical aspects that can impact performance. In fact, it is clear that defining “the best hosting” only makes sense based on one’s needs and budget: for example, a small and low-traffic website might find shared hosting convenient and satisfactory, while for a large and busy e-commerce business, VPS hosting or dedicated hosting might be a better solution; again, cloud hosting might be a good choice for those who need resilient, reliable and scalable hosting, while managed hosting is ideal for those who do not have the skills, time or resources to follow these technical aspects.

And so, choosing a hosting provider means first considering some key factors and specific needs, answering questions such as “How much traffic do we expect to receive? How much storage space do we need? Do we need support for specific technologies or applications?”

To simplify, in evaluating the characteristics of a good hosting provider we need to consider a number of elements, including:

  • The type of website we want to build.
  • The size of the website, current or planned.
  • The traffic
  • The price of the service.
  • The features offered by the provider–from the most immediate (assured security and speed) to the less discounted, such as level of customer service, frequency of backups, possible free SSL certificate to members.

Speaking of extra features, providers also make available additional services designed to enhance the experience of those who own or operate businesses, who can then devote time and energy to just that work. For example, e-mail accounts, FTP access (to upload files from a local computer to the web server) or WordPress support, to support the choice of those who consider WP the best CMS (or at any rate certainly the most widely used in the world).

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