Google, and the other search engines, have a number of website factors they take into account in order to provide rankings in their results pages. Two that I want to focus on in this article are speed and security.
Search engines exist to provide their users with access to the most relevant information relating to search queries in the quickest time possible.
Website loading speed is one of the most relevant factors for ranking on search engines. How quickly a website loads depends on the amount of resources allocated to a website by the website host server.
Most websites are hosted on shared hosting meaning hundreds and sometimes even thousands of websites share a single web server’s resources.
It’s a numbers game; the more websites that share the resources your website needs, the slower your site will be in serving content to your users.
Search engines track how long it takes to load up content from a website and compare that to similar measurements for other websites in the same category. This, along with other factors, including security which is discussed below, is used by their algorithm to rank the site.
As you can imagine, the slower the site, the lower the ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The latest security stats for the number of websites that are being hacked are quite scary: According to Revision Legal’s report from January to June 2018, there have been over 650 cyber-attacks, from defaced websites to data-breaches involving millions of user’s data and crypto-jacking. As websites become more complicated in their makeup, the greater the opportunity for hackers to exploit security holes that have been ignored or missed altogether.
As a website owner, how sure are you of the security of your website?
This a loaded question. Website security has many, many layers to it but the first, and most important, one to be aware of is the server layer; All websites live on servers – your website may be hosted on a dedicated server or a shared server – and the security of the server is crucial. If a server is open to hacks then all the websites, on a shared server, are susceptible to attack.
Shared hosts typically have hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of websites on their servers, sharing memory and other resources, hence ‘shared’.
The trouble with shared hosting can be that if one website is attacked and infected with some kind of malicious code it’s very likely that the infection will spread to other websites.
So, where do search engines come into this picture?
Once a website has been identified as being a security risk to its visitors by a search engine, it’s not only the domain name that is marked but also the IP address that is associated with the site. This is where this all gets a little technical but as a website owner it’s quite useful information to be aware of.
Although we, as humans, use a domain name to call a website, a web server knows the website by its IP address; this IP address is allocated by the web server from a ‘pool’ of IP addresses (think of the number of a single house as the IP address and all of house numbers on the street it’s on as the pool of IP addresses).
So when a website is marked as being a security risk, the IP address pool is also marked as being possibly compromised by the search engine. This means that any and every other site on that shared host will suffer lower ranking by the search engine!
Both speed and security issues start with the server, so if you want to be sure that you rank well in search engine results, make sure that your website host doesn’t have too many sites sharing the same resources and that they take security seriously.