Hosting is a part of the online process that can be taken for granted until there’s a problem. Before you have to think about hosting there’s the design, content, layout, usability and optimising strategy if you’re going for SEO. It’s understandable that after all that you may feel like you’ve spent enough time and money and you just want to get your site online. You can seriously hamper your efforts if you don’t spend enough on hosting as I’ve found out with one of my own websites. I had what I thought was a decent package for one of my blogs because I didn’t want to pay the earth. What I’ve experienced is slow loading times, server timeouts, and a painfully slow wordpress installation. I had even opted for the middle price range.
This has ensured that I’ve maintained an unhealthy bounce rate for one of my websites which is wordpress based. In fact anything php based and my server doesn’t want to deal with it in any hurry. It takes ages to load so thats clearly putting off half of the users who reach my sites content. Slow hosting can affect a sites popularity with users but what about search engines? Well it would appear that search engines are just as impatient with slow loading pages. Every few weeks in webmasters tools I’m alerted to some more pages which Google has given up on. I’ve submitted the pages in an xml sitemap so that Google knows they’re there. Then Googles bots go on their way expecting to see a certain page. The hosting server doesn’t deliver it in time so the bots take note that the page never showed up on time and mark it off the big Google class register. Then my page gets an F for not showing up to class. (Sorry, I had to see out that analogy)
This has happened quite a few times to pages which were previously indexed and has therefore caused havoc with my rankings. A hugely important factor with search engines is trust and if they don’t have faith that your site will be where you say it is then there’s no reason why they should suggest your site to one of its users. It’s like recommending a restaurant to a friend. You’re friend goes to the restaurant and it’s not there anymore. Next time you suggest a restaurant you’re friend may not give your recommendation the time of day. (I’m going analogy crazy today)
Heres the conversation between Google and the sitemap in cartoon form.
So if you want to stay friends with the search engines be where you say you’re going to be. Needless to say. I’m paying for bells and whistles hosting from now on.