If you can’t understand why your site isn’t getting Google rankings try checking your web hosting!
There are various reasons why it might be causing you to lose search positions. A few years ago there were reports that one large hosting company had been blocking Googlebot from spidering any of its clients’ sites, apparently in order to save bandwidth. That would certainly be a major breach of faith, but as ever the onus is on you as the buyer to beware. There’s some very cheap hosting deals out there, but you have to ask why they are cheap. Maybe they don’t have essential facilities or support, access to log files, database capability, scripting languages, or as in that case, maybe you’ll never get any rankings from them and therefore never be able to attract traffic. Free lunches generally have a catch somewhere.
Geographical considerations for search engines
How about checking where your host’s servers are. Search engines have various ways of establishing where your site is based and generally assume that where it’s based in where it’s aimed at. No problem if you have a .co.uk address – you’re obviously UK. Likewise, if your address finishes .fr .es or .it then you’re assumed to be French, Spanish or Italian. But what if you have a .com address? .com is something of a historical anomaly from the days when the net was in its infancy and everyone (well, everyone in America) thought you could just split sites into commercial (.com), non-profit (.org), educational (.edu), and government (.gov).
For a long time everyone jumping on the internet bandwagon assumed you had to have a .com address (the press even called it the .com bubble) but in fact the main problem with it is that it has no geographical significance. Without that major clue the search engines resort to secondary information, and one of those is where the servers are based. If you are a UK company with a .com address and your host’s servers are in another European country then you have a problem – Google and MSN/Live won’t include your site in their UK-only search results.
I was once phoned by a company who hosted their servers in Ireland (Eire) and complained they could never get rankings in the UK. Sure enough I checked their hosting and then checked Google and Yahoo in Ireland – they had top ten results all over the place. Unfortunately they didn’t have any potential customers there. In the UK where their market was they were nowhere to be seen!
The same problem has long caused difficulties for Australian webmasters who tend to go for hosting in the USA where it is apparently much cheaper. If they’re using a .com address then they won’t get results in their own country.
So watch where you host your site – it could make the difference between the success or failure of your business.