Website Hosting - The Restaurant Experience
Websites have become one of the most important aspects to the success of marketing and sales. While companies spend thousands of dollars designing, developing and maintaining their website every year, many don't take into the consideration the importance of their website hosting provider. When living in a virtual world it’s hard to detect the difference between spending $15/month and spending hundreds or maybe even thousands. While the average user may not notice the difference between an entry-level hosting package and premium hosting package, the search engines certainly will. Web-crawlers (or bots) scan your website and take note of the hosting environment and rate the experience accordingly.
A great way to understand website hosting is to compare it to the restaurant industry. Google and other search providers are considered your patrons that visit and rate their experience. The better the experience, the higher rating you will receive; this in-turn will increase the chances you have at ranking higher in search results. Page load time, hosting location and the number of websites sharing the same IP address are all factors taken into consideration.
Also important to note is the consistency of the user experience. Every time the website is crawled, similar or better results should be achieved. To put this in perspective, if you visit a restaurant and the service is quick, the quality of food is exceptional and the location is nearby, you are most likely to give the restaurant a good rating. Additionally, I will likely return to that restaurant and possibly recommend it to my colleagues. If my results are negative or inconsistent I would not see it is a very reputable source to visit on a consistent basis and will therefore not return.
Generally speaking, inexpensive website hosting packages are strongly correlated with inconsistency. Primarily these companies are sharing resources amongst hundreds and sometimes thousands of websites. Everything is delivered on a best efforts service and there is no guarantee on sustainability of quality and uptime. This leaves unpredictable results for user experience, and because Google and other search engines build their revenue models surrounding their quality and reputation, they are unlikely to rate these websites highly due to the fact the environment is not as controlled as others.
The other issue with shared resources is that you have no idea who you are sharing these resources with. Complications can exist if a neighbouring website is virus infected, exploiting malicious code, creating attacks on other web services or performing any other illegal actions. Remember if the hosting is very inexpensive it is also a very low risk investment for cybercriminals to use as well; that said, most of them will use until they are banned by the provider. However the problem is that once these cybercriminals have been removed from the IP address, the damage is already done. That IP address will be blacklisted and it will take a great deal of work to get back as a reputable domain and in some cases will prevent users from viewing your website due to firewall constraints.
Finally, it is also possible to have a neighbouring website that is hosting adult content on the same IP as your website, which will also degrade the rating of your domain. At times your website could also be blocked from content blocking systems by association with these types of websites. To see a list of websites (neighbours), I recommend the following website: http://www.my-ip-neighbors.com
In summary, when selecting a website hosting provider you should not only ask what the available uptime is and how much transfer or disk space is available, but also ask about the measures used to ensure the content delivery to your visitors. You can also request a list of hosted customer websites and reference the IP neighbours link above. If possible, it is recommended to look towards a dedicated or semi-dedicated hosting solution that does not share resources and provide a controlled environment. By following these suggestions, you will gain a hosting solution that will provide you with the most controlled user experience and the benefits will be greatly reflected in your search engine optimization.