Almost nothing is permanent — people change, businesses change and, of course, web hosting changes. At some point in your career, you might find yourself wanting to move from your current website hosting company to a new one. The reasoning may vary from financial causes, dissatisfaction with the current hosting provider or just a desire for change. Whichever reason you have, the most important thing is to figure out how to change website hosting companies without hurting search engine optimization, or SEO.
The hallmark of a successful switch in website hosting companies is keeping the switch invisible to your site users. Search engines should be aware of this move and compensate by sending quality signals to your new pages. Moreover, your SEO should be retained on the new site or even improved. If the process of switching isn’t carried out well, you stand to lose all the SEO work you’ve done for your website over the years.
Does Switching Hosts Affect SEO?
You may wonder, “Does changing hosts affect my Google ranking?” The answer is oftentimes yes. In many cases, moving to a new website hosting company will have an impact on your website’s SEO success and long-term strategy. These effects will manifest in metric parameters such as organic traffic, lead conversions and brand visibility.
Of course, everyone hopes their move to a different website hosting company will positively impact their site’s SEO or their visibility across search engines. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes the action doesn’t work as hoped and the result is a drop in the search engine results pages or SERPs. Of course, this translates to poorer performance and decreased website traffic. In some cases, the switch to a new location might even negatively impact the user experience.
There are several ways switching web hosts can affect your website’s SEO and Google search rankings. Problems can arise if you switch to a new hosting company that:
- Has international servers
- Offers low-quality hosting services
- Downgrades hosting plans
- Performs significant structural changes
The new host’s geographical location is of the utmost importance; if the new servers aren’t located in the same country as your website, you’ll wind up losing website traffic. You also need high-quality hosting services. For instance, if the servers are overcrowded, your website will get more downtime, which negatively affects your SEO ranking.
You also don’t want a new hosting server to downgrade your plan. For example, say your website’s loading speed is higher than your new host’s acceptable performance standards. The web host will attempt to slow down your web page loading, and as a result, your Google rankings will drop. Another thing you want to avoid is a new web host carrying out significant structural changes to your website. In these cases, web crawlers may confuse your established site with a new site. In essence, web crawlers are bots that perform web indexing, or the analysis of keywords across websites, to help determine a site’s relevance and where it should rank among search engine results. If they mistake your site as a new one, that eliminates the hard SEO work and keyword research you did.
How to Switch Website Hosting Without Hurting SEO
Now that you know some of the ways moving to a new web host may negatively affect your site’s SEO performance, it’s imperative that you learn how to avoid falling into this trap. The first step is to consider the impact the change will have on the key players: search engines, website operators and customers. By anticipating these reactions, you can make the necessary changes on your website to ensure each one is addressed and keep the SEO you’ve spent a great deal of time working on.
If you guarantee search engines have all the information they need regarding migration changes being made on your website, they can smoothly adapt to your new host and safeguard your SEO. The information you should share with search engines beforehand includes:
- New hosting location
- New site structure
- New domain
- Link sources
Basically, you need to put your new house in order before tearing down the old one.
The next step is to set your website on the new hosting location properly. DNS changes should be handled carefully to ensure the domain name is correctly transferred to the new hosting location — this will go a long way toward making sure search engines can easily crawl your website in the new location.
Once this is set, you should give yourself a transition period of at least 180 days before shutting down the old site. However, it’s important to note that some hosting companies will let you keep your old domain name for up to 10 years.
Ensure your new website is fully set and effectively operational before shutting down the old server. Once you sell your domain, you relinquish all the algorithm research and SEO you worked so hard for, such as the backlinks you’ve built. Here are some ways to assure the quality of your new server.
Before the Switch
Before entirely moving your website, start by migrating a subdomain’s contents and employ the 301 redirect to redirect pages to your new site. Avoid doing a blanket redirect, as these tend to negatively impact SEO. Instead, do a page-to-page redirect. Other measures you should take include:
- Confirming all links on your website are redirected to the new location
- Checking your new site for any broken links and fixing them
- Connecting with customers
In addition to keeping your search engines informed and connecting your old domain to your new one, it isn’t a bad idea to connect with customers directly. If you have a solid social media following, keep your consumers in the loop about your website changes there, too.
If transitioning to a new host server without negatively impacting your SEO sounds difficult, that’s because it is. Small businesses that aren’t well-informed about SEO can unintentionally sabotage themselves through the move. Fortunately, professional assistance is available.
WP SitePlan offers USA-based WordPress maintenance plans and support to walk with you every step of the process. We offer three different plans, all of which include daily off-site backups, real-time uptime monitoring and database optimization to ensure the quality and functionality of your website. Our most advanced plan includes unlimited desk support, the full elimination of malware and daily performance and speed scans. We do the work so your site can soar to new heights.