Google addresses whether the changing your website hosting provider to one in a new location can impact SEO and search rankings.
This topic is addressed in the latest installment of the Ask Googlebot video series on YouTube.
The following question is submitted to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller:
“Does migrating a website hosting location affect SEO? E.g. an Australian website (and target audience) migrating its hosting location from Australia to US.”
In response, Mueller says there will initially be some changes to how Google treats a site following a hosting change.
Does that involve anything that affects search rankings? See his full response in the next section.
What Happens In Google After Changing Website Hosting Location
Google Will Slow Down Crawling (At First)
Mueller says the biggest change you’re likely to notice after changing website hosts is a slow down in crawling.
That’s done to make sure Google won’t cause any problems by crawling the site too frequently.
Regulating crawling will resume once Google learns there won’t be any issues with doing so
Mueller adds this will happen regardless of the hosting change you make. Whether you’re moving to a hosting provider in the same location, or a new location, Google will be cautious with how much it crawls the site.
“When it comes to moving hosting, you might see our systems initially slowing down crawling a bit. Any time we recognize a hosting change, we want to be sure that we don’t cause any problems. And so we tend to automatically slow down crawling as a precaution.
Over time, once our systems can tell that going faster doesn’t cause any issues, we’ll speed up again. This is independent of the kind of hosting change you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to a different provider down the road, or moving to another country.”
Website Loading Time May Be Impacted
Moving website hosting to a new location may impact how fast the site loads for users.
If a majority of visitors live further away from where the website is hosted, that could lead to a noticeably slower user experience.
In turn, that could affect the speed and page experience ranking factors.
“One practical effect you might notice is that larger geographic moves can affect how quickly a website loads for users. Due to physics and computer networking, out can take longer to reach a server that’s far away. Depending on how strongly this is visible, that can play a role in speed and the page experience ranking factor for a website.”
Possible Solution: Host Your Website In Multiple Locations
To avoid the possibility of your website loading time being adversely impacted, you could consider hosting your website on servers in multiple locations.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) often do this, and depending on the hosting platform you’re using your site may be on multiple servers already.
“To be as close as possible to users, some websites even use servers in many different locations. A content delivery network often does this. If you’re using a hosting platform they may already be doing this for you too. This configuration is fine for Google.”
Website Server Location Not Used For Geotargeting
The location of your website host is not used for geotargeting.
So your search results in a particular geographic area will not be impacted as a result of changing website hosts.
Mueller concludes his response:
“With regards to SEO, the server’s location is not used for geotargeting. If you want your website to target users in a specific location, you would need to use either the country-code top level domain, or the appropriate setting in Google Search Console.”
In summary, changing the location of your website host will have a temporary impact on crawling, and has the potential to adversely impact loading time.
This type of change will not impact SEO when it comes to geotargeting.
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral