When choosing a hosting account, there are a huge range of providers worldwide, but what effect does it have on search engine optimisation, if you choose a website hosting service with servers in a different country to your main market? Will you rank better in local search if your site is hosted on a server in your own country?
This is an important question for a number of reasons. Not all hosting services are equal, and there are some markets where the local offerings are over-priced and under-resourced. In situations like this, it makes good sense to search for hosting providers in other markets with better prices and resources, but will that impact on your search engine optimisation? Will you be penalised in local search results?
To answer that question, it’s worthwhile looking at what Google outlines as the best practices for submitting local search information about your site.
One of the most important things you can do, for local search optimisation, is to create a Google My Business listing, which can link your website to your physical address on Google maps. You’ll need to verify the listing, usually by getting Google to send a verification code to your business’s physical address.
Also important, though not essential, is to choose a top level domain from your local market. So, if you’re based in Ireland, it’s worthwhile having a .ie site, or in Australia a .com.au and so on. This is useful, but far from essential, given that there are a wide-range of tld options that can be more appropriate for various reasons.
Google actually provides a direct way of telling it where your most important market is, via Google Search Console.
So those are recommendations from Google about how to identify your site to local search, but there’s no direct mention of a server’s location. The search engine giant has, though, talked about the relevance of a server’s location here
Q: Is the server location important for geotargeting?
A: If you can use one of the other means to set geotargeting (ccTLD or Search Console’ geotargeting tool), you don’t need worry about the server’s location. We do, however, recommend making sure that your website is hosted in a way that will give your users fast access to it (which is often done by choosing hosting near your users).
So, from that, it’s fairly clear that server location is just one way (and an increasingly irrelvant one at that) to let search engines know what local market you’re targetting.