When website owners refer to search engine optimization (SEO), you will often hear about keywords, content development, meta & title tags and building their link popularity.
Rarely will you hear them mention server setup or how their server could be keeping them from ranking well in the search engines.
You may ask “Why would the search engines care about the server I select or how my server is set up?”
The truth is, the search engines have a lot of advertising dollars riding on your servers’ performance … and so do you.
Should the search engines find your website to be relevant for high traffic phrases, the search engines have the potential to dramatically increase your traffic and your server load.
If the amount of traffic sent to your site overloads the server or causes you a lot of downtime, this affects the user experience. If the user begins to think that a search engine shows results that aren’t working, this can cause the user to decide to turn to another search engine for better results.
SEO Server Checklist
When reviewing your server setup with search engine optimization in mind, there are a number of key areas to look at.
Many of these areas are not something you can personally fix, and often times you will need to contact your web site hosting company for assistance.
The best resource we have found for checking server related issues is www.dnsreport.com. They offer a wealth of information that can help you in determining if there are server issues that need to be addressed.
When you run the reports from DNS Stuff & DNS Reports, you will want to concentrate on the following areas:
- DNS Server A Records
- NS Records at Nameservers
- All Nameservers Respond
- Open DNS Servers
- DNS Timing
- Shared IP addresses
If you run these free server tests and find that these areas are not working properly or have failed, you will want to contact your website hosting company to have these issues resolved.
Often times many of these errors do not cause issues for the average website owner; but when it comes to search engine optimization, these server issues have the potential of keeping you from being listed for your most important keyword phrases.
Server Issues & Hosting Volatility
Before doing any search engine optimization on a client’s website, a search engine optimization company should always ensure that the server is working correctly.
Most professional SEO companies have had many dealings with website hosting companies; working with the web site hosting companies to educate them on how some of the areas listed above can hinder search engine optimization efforts.
Some SEO companies go through website hosting company nightmares, where they must fight tooth and nail for each area that they feel needs to be addressed.
A search engine optimization company is generally a third party company trying to do what is best for the client, but as a website owner you are the hosting company’s client; so if you meet with resistance you can simply take your business elsewhere.
How to Fix Server Related Issues
If you are told that any of the server related issues cannot be resolved, find out why. You may be told that it is your package that doesn’t cover it, or that the server that you were put on doesn’t support it. It is your job to ask them what you would need to do to resolve the issues. If they say you will need to upgrade to a higher package you may want to consider it. If they say they need to move your site ask them to do so. But don’t stop following through until the decision is in your hands. If the cost is too high for you or if your existing website host is not willing to address the server issues properly you should look at other website hosting companies.
What’s the Bottom Line?
The bottom line is if you want top search engine rankings or if you want your search engine optimization campaign to be successful, you need a unique IP address, closed DNS servers, reverse DNS working properly, Nameservers working properly, fast server response, and a clean IP.
Read about our in depth SEO Site Audit.