The decision to switch to a new website hosting company often comes with many benefits, and so we would assume that it would also positively impact our site’s SEO – our visibility across search engines. However, that’s not always going to be the case, especially on the initial switch. To save your site from any negative side effects from the transition you will need an SEO adjustment strategy in place. If not set up correctly, you will notice changes in your metrics such as organic traffic, lead conversions and the visibility of your brand.
What factors should I consider when looking for a new hosting provider?
We typically make changes for improvement, so for the best chance of having a positive impact, you should be asking the following questions when changing vendors:
- Does the new hosting provider use international servers? – Steer clear of this in most cases, especially if most of your business is conducted in your own country. Oftentimes, if a host has all of their servers in a country that is not local to YOU, you may actually lose traffic based on your geographical data.
- Does the provider have a reputation for downgrading hosting plans, overloading servers for shared hosting plans, or continually performing changes to the plan structure? – If the answer is yes, run.
You certainly do not want your new vendor to downgrade your plan. By downgrading, that could mean the web host now may not have the bandwidth necessary to accommodate your speedy site, and as a result, this may slow your web page loading. Performance Issues can lead to a drop in your Google rankings due to no fault of your own. After investing time and money into optimizing your website, you should be sure your web host and hosting plan can keep up.
Server overload speaks for itself. This can be seen a lot with the bare-bones budget hosts that attempt to load up their servers with shared resources in hopes that the variety of sites on a server will balance the load. Sometimes that’s just not the case, which can cause your site to lag or even result in downtime. A provider known for overloading their server is one you want to move away from, not switch to.
Structural changes to the server can get a little tricky. When structural changes are made, web crawlers could confuse your established site with a new site. This would effectively negate your years of SEO work and keyword research. Sometimes structural changes are necessary, a great provider will work with you to make sure your site is prepared for them.
- Who is performing the work and answering your direct questions? – While there is research to be had on the quality and reputation of hosting services, and we know you will do your due diligence on consumer reviews, the provider should also be able to offer a point of contact who can confidently and directly answer your questions on compatibility with your apps and technologies used, tell you about their own SEO best practices, and let you know the location and specs of your server. They should also be able to tell you how the server will be configured before your site is migrated to it, and provide you with a direct line of contact the whole time you are in their hands.
When you work with a trusted developer like CommonPlaces, you can be sure your website will be hosted on an up-to-date server from top quality providers, and the best plan for your needs will be selected to set you up for success from the beginning. The best part is - you will have support every step of the way, so you won’t even have to rack your brain over the details.
How do I switch hosts without hurting my SEO?
You’ve completed your research and have made a decision you feel great with. Now what? Believe it or not, there are changes you can make to your site before the switch to ensure minimal negative impact.
Before moving your entire website, we recommend migrating a subdomain’s contents and make use of your 301 redirect to redirect pages to your new site. A page-to-page redirect is recommended over a blanket redirect, as the latter tends to negatively impact your SEO.
Other steps you should consider include:
- Confirm that all links on your site are redirected to the new location
- Keep as many of the same URLs and internal links as possible, especially on high ranking pages
- Make sure your new site has all working links; fix any broken links
- Announce to your customers that you will be updating your site soon, especially if you have a particularly active and engaging site. This way, you can inform them of changes to commonly used areas.
Keep in mind that when you are ready to migrate your site, DNS changes should be handled according to your new host’s exact instructions to be sure your domain name is correctly transferred.
Thinking about Self-Hosting? Check out our article “Hosting & Maintenance 101: Professionally Managed Web Hosting vs. Self Service Hosting”
What is the best way to ensure your website is minimally impacted by a host change?
Moving to a new hosting provider is no easy task. When making the choice to change your web host, we highly recommend you leave it to the experts who do this day in and day out. Partnering with your current web developer is a great place to start. They can point you in the right direction or, better yet, partner with an agency (Like CommonPlaces) that offers to build, host, and maintain your website so they do all the heavy lifting for you.
CommonPlaces is here for you, and we are happy to make recommendations on which hosts to use, the features and benefits of our picks, and even get your site moved over and make improvements FOR you.