Hosting Company Touting Server Speed As "Intrinsically Linked" To SEO

Apr 16, 2008 • 8:00 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A Cre8asite Forums discussion pointed me over to a UK hosting company named UKFast that has a white paper on Server Speed and SEO.

The paper makes the argument that server speed is a critical component to your SEO campaign. Here are some quotes from the white paper:

Website response speed helps search engines to assess the site’s relevance because speed is one of the criteria recognised in a successful site.

If a more powerful, faster server is used, the site loads more quickly and is rewarded by being moved higher in a the search engines’s displayed results.

Server speed is intrinsically linked to search engine optimisation.

If a server operates at a higher speed the business is more likely to be noticed by search engines. This is because Google, which is the world’s favourite search engine, offers rewards for businesses that provide excellent customer service.

Additionally, a fast server means spiders and robots find it easier to trawl a website. This means your website is indexed on a more regular basis and updated more frequently by search engines.

Technically, a really slow server can really hurt your rankings in many search engines. But can a super fast server improve your Google rankings? I don't think so. It might let Googlebot spider more of your pages quicker, but even that seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

You see, what they claim is half-true. If you have a really slow server, it can have a negative impact on your rankings. But having a super fast server, as opposed to a fast server, won't increase your rankings. I.e. A super fast site won't rank higher than a fast site, if all else is equal. At least as far as I know.

Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.

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04/16/2008 01:25 pm

That comment though is not half true but a twisting of facts. I don't think that is acceptable to tell clients. I think telling them that speed of the site is important especially in usability and when you are doing PPC but not the way they are twisting it.

Jaan Kanellis

04/16/2008 02:24 pm

I dont believe this at all.

No Name

04/16/2008 03:31 pm

That just goes to prove the expression "that a little bit of knowledge is a bad thing!"

Michael Martinez

04/16/2008 05:10 pm

I'm not sure I would agree with the "half-true" conclusion but it does appear that a double standard is developing in response to the white paper. If an SEO tells someone to improve their server performance to help with search optimization (advice which has been made on many occasions by many well-respected SEOs where it was appropriate), that's okay. However, if a server provider publishes that argument as part of their marketing spiel, that's not okay. I think the message will be tested and shaped by experience and response, but the rationalizations are not so far off the mark as it might seem. With a little tweaking, the white paper could become a good resource for everyone.

Andrew Goodman

04/16/2008 08:14 pm

Barry, I think your interpretation makes good sense. Slow response times will mean that a search engine will have no choice but to crawl you more slowly, and deem your site to be less accessible and therefore less useful to users, so a ranking hit may eventually follow. This is a no-brainer, because it is documented that Google looks at this. They have officially announced that page load times will be included in the calculation of landing page quality score. Reading between the lines it likely means if it is particularly slow, your score takes a hit. No reason why similar principles shouldn't apply on the organic side. I also agree with your conclusion that "super-fast" should confer little if any added benefit.

Bill Kruse

04/17/2008 11:01 am

A slow site on a slow server (all else being equal) won't rank as well as a fast site on a on a fast server. It's a worse user experience. However, you can certainly argue that a fast site on a slow server can rank as well (all else being equal) as a slow site on a fast server. These guys are correct in suggesting that a fast server can be a useful SEO asset, but only in the context of a site that itself is properly optimised for speed. It certainly isn't critical, though, not the way it's reported they suggest it is. BB

No Name

04/20/2008 02:13 pm

It is true that load time is factor in google's ranking algorithm, but it has been taken too literal and too far here. Once a site has a 'reasonable' load time it is unlikely to adversely affect rankings, most likely the only sites affected will be those that are deemed below an acceptable load time. Having a super-fast server certainly would not do any harm but it may just be an unneccessary expense

No Name

01/03/2010 06:03 am

I think its like domain length, sure it may set you apart from fairly level competition, but even if say was twice as slow and only registered til next year, the amount of authority and regulad backlinks to it would never Allow it to drop significantly if at all. I did spend about 5 hrs today optimizing my site's load times as i serve lots of images and use a lot of php scripts. Using a site benchmarker, Along with Firebug, I was a le to find some obvious weaknesses and decrease my average load time from 6 seconds to under 2. One interesting thing I found was that Wordpress super cache did nothing for my setup on Media Temple, and another site I have on Dreamhost seemed to be benefit from some kind of DH built in cache. Whats fair and not in marketing is hard to say. Almost all SEO marketing is based on unprovable theories...

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