The Perils Of Web Hosting On Search Engine Placements

The Perils Of Web Hosting On Search Engine Placements

Yes indeed, who would have thought it, but your web hosting provider could indirectly be costing you the​ chance of​ good placements in​ the​ major search engine Google.

How can this be? Well the​ problem is​ the​ physical location of​ the​ hosting centre itself. Now, while you may feel you have signed up with a​ UK hosting company, actually all their hosting centres can be in​ a​ different country such as​ the​ US or​ Germany for​ example.

Now this little quirk doesn’t really have many side effects as​ you may well be getting very good value and​ good technical support from your host, but what it​ does mean is​ that if​ you do not have a​ geography specific domain suffix such as​

for the​ UK and​ instead you opt for​ a​ .org, .net, or​ .com then Google will use the​ geographical location of​ your hosting centre as​ the​ method for​ determining which local index your results should be found in.

By this I mean if​ you were to​ search with the​ radio button switched to​ UK results only, and​ your .com site was hosted by a​ UK hosting supplier but in​ a​ German datacentre, then you would never appear in​ the​ search results. of​ course, you would appear in​ the​ search results, but obviously not many German google users are looking for​ websites and​ businesses in​ English or​ relevant only to​ a​ UK audience.

There are plenty of​ studies out there suggesting search patterns on Google that say it​ is​ approximately 50 : 50 as​ to​ the​ number of​ people that click the​ "all the​ web" results on compared to​ searching only UK results. However, I personally do not believe this, if​ I am looking for​ a​ business where a​ product needs to​ be delivered or​ a​ service provided to​ me that involves phone or​ person to​ person support and​ contact, am I really going to​ search every website on the​ Internet?

No, I am only going to​ search across UK specific sites, and​ if​ I can't find what I want then I will expand my search to​ include sites outside the​ UK.

It is​ unknown to​ me at​ this time whether a​ site hosted outside the​ UK suffers any form of​ penalisation from Google in​ its ranking placements in​ the​ index, and​ is​ quite difficult to​ prove either way as​ search engines are notorious for​ providing as​ little information as​ possible as​ to​ how they operate.

Unfortunately there is​ no real way around this problem if​ you are already caught up in​ it​ other than move your hosting to​ an​ ISP that is​ actually based in​ the​ Country that they claim to​ be on all advertising etc. Always check beforehand if​ you are looking at​ a​ non domain name for​ your site, as​ you do risk never getting the​ 100's or​ 1000's of​ search engine referrals that can provide you.

Below is​ a​ link to​ a​ tool that is​ useful for​ telling you the​ geographical location of​ your website, make sure you check it​ out if​ you are concerned about your site not being included in​ your local Google index, because there is​ nothing your hosting provider or​ Google can or​ will do about this situation, so get educated and​ make sure your website gets seen in​ your local Google index.

Tools for​ locating where your website is​ hosted (


1) Using the​ "Ping" tool, type in​ your domain name and​ you will be given the​ IP address of​ the​ machine your site is​ hosted on.

2) Copy and​ paste that IP address into the​ "tracert" tool, the​ final hop is​ the​ physical location of​ your website, so check this against the​ "Country" information on the​ right-hand side.

I don't see this problem changing or​ easing any time in​ the​ near future, as​ the​ service provided by Google for​ geographical indexed is​ fundamentally sound and​ they have to​ use some method of​ discerning which Country group a​ site is​ relative to​ when it​ has a​ non-geographical domain suffix, however more and​ more people are being caught out by this without even realising it, because they believed they were signing up to​ a​ hosting provider in​ their own Country.

I hope this article helps, and​ please email me any of​ your stories / problems in​ this area. Good luck!

Paul Rudman is​ the​ director and​ head of​ optimisation at​ Commercetuned (, he's been involved in​ developing search strategies and​ search engine optimisation for​ 7 years.

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