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The Perils of Web Hosting on Search Engine Placements

The Perils of Web Hosting on Search Engine Placements
Copyright © Craig Warren

Yes indeed, who would have thought it, but your web
hosting provider could indirectly be costing you the
chance of good placements in the major search engine

How can this be? Well the problem is the physical
location of the hosting centre itself. Now, while you may
feel you have signed up with a UK hosting company,
actually all their hosting centres can be in a different
country such as the US or Germany for example.

Now this little quirk doesn’t really have many side
effects as you may well be getting very good value and
good technical support from your host, but what it does
mean is that if you do not have a geography specific
domain suffix such as .co.uk for the UK and instead you
opt for a .org, .net, or .com then Google will use the
geographical location of your hosting centre as the method
for determining which local index your results should be
found in.

By this I mean if you were to search www.google.co.uk
with the radio button switched to UK results only, and
your .com site was hosted by a UK hosting supplier but in
a German datacentre, then you would never appear in the
search results. Of course, you would appear in the
www.google.de search results, but obviously not many
German google users are looking for websites and
businesses in English or relevant only to a UK audience.

There are plenty of studies out there suggesting search
patterns on Google that say it is approximately 50 : 50
as to the number of people who click the “all the web”
results on google.co.uk compared to searching only UK
results. However, I personally don’t believe this, if I
am looking for a business where a product needs to be
delivered or a service provided to me that involves phone
or person to person support and contact, am I really
going to search every website on the Internet?

No, I am only going to search across UK specific sites
and if I can’t find what I want then I will expand my
search to include sites outside the UK.

It is unknown to me at this time whether a .co.uk site
hosted outside the UK suffers any form of penalisation
from Google in its ranking placements in the google.co.uk
index and is quite difficult to prove either way as
search engines are notorious for providing as little
information as possible as to how they operate.

Unfortunately, there is no real way around this problem
if you are already caught up in it other than move your
hosting to an ISP that is actually based in the Country
that they claim to be on all advertising etc. Always
check beforehand if you are looking at a non .co.uk
domain name for your site, as you do risk never getting
the 100’s or 1000’s of search engine referrals that
www.google.co.uk can provide you.

Below is a link to a tool that is useful for telling you
the geographical location of your website, make sure you
check it out if you are concerned about your site not
being included in your local Google index, because there
is nothing your hosting provider or Google can or will do
about this situation, so get educated and make sure your
website gets seen in your local Google index.

Tools for locating where your website is hosted


1) Using the “Ping” tool, type in your domain name and
you will be given the IP address of the machine your site
is hosted on.

2) Copy and paste that IP address into the “tracert” tool,
the final hop is the physical location of your website, so
check this against the “Country” information on the right-
hand side.

I don’t see this problem changing or easing any time in
the near future, as the service provided by Google for
geographical indexed is fundamentally sound and they have
to use some method of discerning which Country group a
site is relative to when it has a non-geographical domain
suffix, however more and more people are being caught out
by this without even realising it, because they believed
they were signing up to a hosting provider in their own

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