Google Answers If Changing Web Hosting Affects SEO via @sejournal, @martinibuster


Google’s Gary Illyes answered if switching web hosting platforms could result in a negative outcome for rankings and SEO. It’s a reasonable question because migrating a site to a new web host involves multiple technical factors that can go wrong and have an immediately negative effect.

What Does Changing A Website Host Entail?

Changing web hosts can be complicated but if the site is just a regular WordPress site then migrating to a new host is relatively easy, especially if you use plugins.

But even doing a manual migration isn’t that difficult if you’re already familiar with administering website database with apps like phpMyAdmin and know how to use an SFTP software.

Gary Ilyes’ answer refers to doing it “by the book” which is actually quite a lot and can be overwhelming if you’ve never done this before.

Does Changing Website Hosting Affect SEO?

The question that was asked is:

“My company is considering switching hosts for our website. Would switching have a negative and lasting effect on our SEO rankings?”

Google’s Gary Illyes responded:

“If you do things by the book, meaning the website keeps being resolvable and the actual downtime is minimal, changing hosts should not have negative effects on your pages’ rankings in Google’s search results.”

Two Things To Be Mindful Of

Gary Illyes’ answer assumes that the new web host is as good as the old web hosting platform. Obviously, downgrading the web hosting may come with minor to major negative outcomes.

Gary mentioned two factors to be mindful of:

Website domain resolves
Downtime is minimal

1. Website Is Resolvable

This is a reference to how the domain name is translated to an IP address that matches where the website itself is hosted. This typically means obtaining the Name Servers (NS) information from the new website hosting platform where the site files are and updating that at the domain name registrar. Additionally, the A Record (Address Record) should reflect the correct IP address for the new web hosting space (and other entries related to email).

2. Downtime Is Minimal

Believe it or not your website can be down for weeks and it won’t permanently lose rankings as long as when it comes back everything is exactly the same as it previously was. I know this from personal experience as I’ve been operating websites for 25 years. For example, there were a couple times when one or another of my websites went down due to hard drive failure at the dedicated web host, incorrect settings causing 500 errors and from taking having to take a website offline to fix hacked files.

A site can recover from being down for weeks and in my experience it’ll take a couple weeks for Google to recrawl and add all the webpages back into the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Listen to the answer on YouTube at the 7:58 minute mark:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

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