Why your hosting server location matters
Did you know that your web hosting server’s location plays a crucial role in how your website functions?
If you didn’t know this, don’t worry. Even experienced website owners don’t realize how it can affect your website speed, loading times, SEO rankings, even legal compliance.
As a refresher, server location simply refers to the data center’s physical location where your website is hosted (Namecheap’s Shared Hosting US data center, for example, is based in Phoenix, Arizona).
So let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that although your website has a US data center, your customer base is primarily in Europe. When your website gets accessed by users in Europe, it would have to pass through your web hosting provider’s US data center to reach those respective European users. Connecting across continents, as you might imagine, takes time. And remember, folks, your time is money.
However, if your website had an EU data center, this would mean your web pages would get loaded far faster. Taking this into account, now let’s explore all the other reasons why it’s important to choose a data center that’s closer to your users.
Your server location affects website speed
We hate to break it to you, but if your website takes three or more seconds to load, 50% of your visitors will abandon it immediately.
Given that patience isn’t a virtue amongst website users, this is all the more reason to choose a server location closer to your audience. Why? Because the location of your website’s hosting server has a direct impact on your website’s speed. Doing so will help to reduce the distance your website data needs to travel, thereby decreasing loading time and increasing page loading speed. Talk about a win-win!
In particular, when it comes to mobile e-commerce users, even a slight speed improvement can have a positive effect. In a 2019 study run by Google in Denmark, mobile consumers, on average, were found to be 10% more willing to recommend a webshop if load-time was reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds. A further reduction from 10 seconds to 3 seconds gave an estimated 26% increase in advocacy. To learn more about how to speed up your website, check out my previous article.
So in terms of page loading times, this is where the term “latency” often gets thrown around. Latency refers to the amount of time required by your hosting server to receive and process a user request. So if we go back to our original example of someone having a US data center and an EU user base, it’s no wonder why latency increases, thereby slowing down page loading time.
Not sure where your website audience is mainly located? It’s easy to find out using Google Analytics.
Your server location affects SEO rankings
When a user stays longer on your website, they have a higher “dwell time” (the length of time a user spends looking at your website after selecting the link from a Search Engine Results Page, aka SERP). “Bounce rate,” on the other hand, refers to the percentage of visitors who visit one page on your website, only to click to another page on or off your website. Both are crucial factors that search engines consider when they create their rankings.
Search engines such as Google do give you, as the website owner, an opportunity to specify a target country in Google Search Central, formerly Google Webmasters. However, if you happen to register your domain name with a country TLD (for example, “.de” for Germany), you won’t choose your target country since Google already links these country TLDs.
Suppose you decide not to specify a target country. In that case, Google will check all aspects of competitor websites and determine where your server location might physically be located, based on the following factors:
- Your server’s IP address
- Your website content, e.g., contact information or content snippets available
- Any backlinks to your web page
If your website targets users worldwide, then choosing a specific server location isn’t necessarily a must. Instead, turn to a CDN for quicker page loading.
What’s a CDN?
Short for Content Delivery Network, a CDN is a group of servers distributed worldwide to cache (store) and deliver assets such as images and video to your website visitors faster.
The main goal of a CDN is to offload any bandwidth strain on your original hosting server to somewhere else. This is often the server that’s closest to the website user who’s trying to load your website in the first place. While some content gets loaded from the nearest CDN server, the rest gets loaded from your hosting server, which as a result, speeds up the page delivery for your website. That’s why Namecheap’s Shared Hosting plans all feature Supersonic CDN to ensure that your website performance is consistent for global audiences.
Your server location affects legal compliance
Keep in mind if your website is located in one country and its servers are in another, you may encounter legal repercussions.
As a website owner, you must recognize how different countries enact different rules and regulations regarding information security—for example, GDPR in Europe. Other countries often have various laws related to how your data can be stored in their servers. For example, such restrictions might mean that if you’re a healthcare-related business, you can’t store sensitive medical records on hosting servers located in certain countries.
Let’s say your hosting server is located in Canada. To learn more about Canadian data privacy, you would need to familiarize yourself with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In other words, it’s all about doing your homework to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.
In an ideal world, your hosting server location should be as close to your audience as possible. Doing so means your website and web pages will load faster, you’ll rank higher among search engines, and you’ll boost your SEO in the process.
If you’re a Shared Hosting customer with Namecheap, we now offer three hosting server locations to meet your website’s needs in addition to Supersonic CDN:
1) US (located in Phoenix, Arizona, and best suited for US/Canada and Latin American website audiences)
2) UK (located in the UK)
3) Amsterdam, Netherlands (a new location to better serve European as well as African audiences)
Remember, your audience matters, so don’t let your website suffer just because you chose a far-away hosting location.
What hosting server location do you use? Or do you use a CDN? Let us know in the comments below!