Will Changing Hosts Affect Search Rankings?

A common question in the SEOChat forums is whether moving your site or changing hosts will affect your SEO rankings and position in the serps.

If everything were exactly the same, moving your site between identical servers should not impact your search engine positions if the move is done correctly. But everything is never exactly the same.

Each hosting company has different hardware, networks, versions of server code, and configurations. How quickly your site loads is important. The faster you can make it, and the more reliable your hosting, the higher you will rank. Factors that impact page load time are:

  • Speed of the server
  • Demand on the server (how many sites with how much traffic)
  • Distance from the end user (the person looking for your site)
Using a CDN can greatly speed up your download times by duplicating the most often requested content on your site across multiple servers. Load balancing and failover speeds up your site and also ensures there is no downtime.

Watch Your Downtime

Extended downtime can definitely negatively impact your rankings on Google and other search engines, so choosing a reliable hosting company is essential to your success.

CDNs also provide serious security, which ensure your site is far less likely to get hacked. Lengthy outages recovering from damage hackers do can can largely be avoided.

Be sure to choose a CDN known for security as some focus more on page load speed while others focus on both.

Speed Up Download Time

If you are serious about getting your site to load faster, start with these tips. And do note the links to additional information at the bottom of that post. There are some simple things every site owner should know. For example:
  • Your site should be hosted on a server in the country whose audience you most want to reach. See Server Location as a Local Ranking Factor for details.
  • Other sites on a shared server can negatively impact your search engine positions, so choose carefully and know what other sites are on the same server with you. Use this lookup tool to find out.
How moving your site can impact your search rankings can be a complex question, but here is a good video that explains some of the variables: Video Highlights:
  • Changing servers CAN impact your rankings
  • If your site is still identical, the main concern is other poor quality sites on a shared server
  • Switching between content management systems (between Drupal or Blogger to WordPress for example) will change your URLs and directories; this can definitely cause major issues if not done correctly
  • Be sure to redirect any URLs that change so you don’t lose the value of those incoming links
If you’re not happy with your current hosting company, use this guide to moving your site. One common mistake is to take down your existing site before you’ve tested the new one.

Use a Test Site When Moving

An expert tech should leave your existing site up and load a duplicate copy of it onto the new server. That new copy should be checked over and tested to ensure it is working fine and has no issues BEFORE you re-point the DNS servers to the new location.

Another useful tip is to shorten the caching time on your existing site well before you start the move. This will reduce the amount of time it takes for all your users to see the site at the new location.

Whether changing hosts affects your search rankings will depend upon the quality of the move. If everything is done correctly, there may be a temporary drop in search rankings, but it will quickly recover.