To bring people to your website, your website needs to be discoverable. Most people use search engines to find websites. The higher your site appears in search engine results, the more likely it is that people will visit it. Optimizing your site, so it appears higher in search engine results is known as search engine optimization or SEO.
Google is the most popular search engine with over 70% market share. For this reason, we're going to focus this article on how to improve your search engine results with Google.
Google considers many factors to determine where a website will rank in its result pages. Among those factors is your server location. This article will examine how your host's server location affects your website's SEO performance.
Server Location and Speed
Your server location is where the physical server that hosts your site resides. There are thousands of data centers worldwide. In most cases, your hosting provider will use a data center in one location to hold a number of their servers.
The distance from your server to where your site is accessed affects your site's speed. Site speed is one of the factors Google considers when determining where to rank your website. The farther your users are from your server location, the slower their page load speed will be, and the lower you will rank. When you are closer to a data center, the server's data can be fetched faster because it doesn't have to travel as far. For example, if most of your users are in Canada, you should research web hosting in Canada to find providers with data centers in Canada. This will improve the speed of your site and help your search engine performance.
However, it's not always possible to choose a data center that's close to your users. You can't host your site on more than one server. Therefore if you have clients in multiple locations, what do you do?
When you can't select a server location close to your users, the alternative is to use a CDN. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. A CDN is a network of linked servers that store cached web content that is used to serve this web content to website visitors. In general, CDN servers are spread out worldwide to provide the best coverage possible. CDNs help speed up your site by making it possible for your browser to load your site from a server that's closer to you. This means that instead of loading a website from a data center in the US, a CDN will allow you to load a site's cached content from a server in Canada, which is closer to you. As a result, your search engine ranking won't be affected by your servers' location since your content is served from various CDN servers around the globe.
Server Location and Location-Based Search Results
Google's goal is always to return the most relevant results to their users. To that end, they use your server location's IP address to determine whether your site's location is a relevant factor to a user's search. However, this isn't the only factor that Google takes into consideration when returning location-based search results. They know that people use CDNs, so they also look at any information about your location available in the website content. This includes things like contact information, structured data, content snippets, and so forth. They also look at backlinks to the page and any other information that's relevant to local SEO, including a TLD and the country target you've set in your webmaster tools. This means that if your website is hosted on a server in Europe and your website is designed for users in Canada, you need to set "Canada" in Google webmaster tools or other search engine webmaster tools.
Website speed is a crucial factor in your website's search engine performance. If your website loads slowly, you won't rank very high in search rankings. The closer your users are to your server, the faster your site will load for them. Therefore it's a good idea to choose a web host with data centers near your users. However, if you have users coming to your site from around the world, it's best to use a CDN. A CDN will allow users to access a cached version of your site content from a nearby CDN server with the result that their page will load faster.
Furthermore, Google takes server location into account when delivering location-based search results. Therefore, a server located in your target users' country will help you rank for those searches. However, you can still rank for location-based searches without having a server located in your target users' country by ensuring that the content of your site, the TLD, and your country target all point to your target location.