How Hosting, Site Speed Affects SEO

by Toby

September 13, 2015

how hosting affects site speed

Does your website load slow? Have you wondered if there was an impact on business as a result of your slow loading website?
Site speed can greatly affect your site’s SEO (search engine optimization). Google has made it very clear that they want a fast internet.

Google wants to serve websites that load fast. Site speed has become increasingly important as the growth in mobile has continued.
There are many ways to improve your website’s speed, but one important way is with your hosting provider. If you don’t care about your presence in Google or your site visitor’s usability, then no need to read on.

Because websites are developed by someone other than the business owner, most business owners don’t have a say in who is hosting their site. And from my experience, most people don’t give hosting a second thought, other than how much it costs. If you’re a business owner or someone in marketing, start paying attention because it matters.

Carelessly choosing a poor host can greatly affect how Google crawls your site and ranks your site’s pages in organic search results, which will affect your leads and sales. Never mind the fact that end users will click away if your site loads slowly.

Case Study: Improved Site Speed Improved Results

We recently migrated a site from a shared hosting plan to a VPS (virtual private server). I’m not going to get into the details of hosting packages, but suffice it to say in simple terms that a shared hosting package generally has multiple sites on a server all fighting for the same server resources. The benefit of this is lower hosting costs. The downside is that it negatively affects leads and sales through poorer performance.

Site speed negatively affects your SEO and user behavior of your site. From an SEO standpoint, Google will crawl and index fewer of your website’s pages the slower it is. From a consumer standpoint, if your site runs too slow customers will abandon it – even more so on mobile devices.

Shared Hosting

If a site is on a shared host takes more of the server resources it can slow the other websites down. For example, one site is consistently receiving a large volume of visits.

Dedicated Servers

A VPS environment, however, is like having all the server resources to your site which means faster page load times when someone visits your site.

What happens when your site’s page loads times improve?

  1. Google will crawl and index more of your pages
  2. Consumers will stay longer on your website

Below is a screenshot of the page download times from Google Webmaster Tools. You can see very clearly when we moved the site to a higher performance host – the page load download times dramatically dropped.

time spent downloading a page
Time Spent Downloading A Page – Google Search Console

What happened next was very telling of how Google reacts to faster load times.

  • Kilobytes downloaded per day went up drastically. We can see a huge spike immediately which then gives way to a more natural and gradual and steady increase over time in the kilobytes downloaded per day.

So far so good. Google is downloading more content. More downloaded content means more opportunity to get that content into Google’s search index and thus more traffic and hopefully more leads.

kilobytes downloaded per day
Kilobytes downloaded per day – Google Search Console
  • As with the kilobytes downloaded per day, pages crawled per day had an initial spike, but then has been growing consistently over time.

The more pages Google crawls of your site, the more pages they can index, and thus the more organic search presence you could be getting.

pages crawled per day
Pages crawled per day – Google Search Console

More Engagement From Your Customers

Looking at time visitors spent on the website improved greatly too.

Below is the increase in time on site compared to the prior period on mobile devices.

period over period time on site increase, mobile devices
Period over period increase in time on site, mobile devices – Google Analytics

And the increase in time on site year-over-year for people on mobile devices.

year over year page speed increase
The year-over-year increase in time on site, mobile devices – Google Analytics

Both show significant increases in how long visitors stay on the website which indicates better engagement.

Next Steps:

Log in to your website’s Google Search Console and figure out how fast your site is loading. I would say anything averaging above ¾’s of a second is about the upper limit.

Related Post: How To Get Your Website On Google’s First Page

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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