Server Location – Does it Matter?

Does server location matter? The simple answer is that it all depends on the specific circumstances of the client.

For example, for a company that wants its online store to target customers in China, then the location of the hosting company is very important. Most web users in China use the Baidu search engine, which is the national equivalent of search giant Google. Chinese search engine optimization (SEO) experts know that Baidu favors hosting companies and servers located in China.

Location and Google

Even for Google search engine optimization, location can be an important factor for some websites. For example, if you want to perform optimally on the foreign versions of Google like google.it in Italy or google.com.au in Australia, then you generally will need a local server and hosting company.

The search engine results pages (SERPs) on the country-specific Google sites are significantly different from those on the main search engine page at google.com. In many cases, the results will have the country specific domain extensions like .it or .com.au.

Even for some queries on the main Google page, the location of the server can be a determining factor for rankings. For example, if someone searches for “restaurants in Rome,” Google will likely detect that they are interested in local business results.

In this case, it will deliver Google Places and Google Local results at the top of the search engine results page. If a site has an Italy domain extension and a server located in Rome, it may benefit from extra “juice” for high search placement.

Does location affect speed?

The Internet still travels mostly through communication lines and server nodes. The farther a server away is from a site visitor, the longer the transmission must travel through this communication system.

Generally, the differences are quite small, but it will depend on many factors including network congestion. The longer the route that the message must travel through the Internet, the more chances there are for it to encounter “traffic jams.”

If you have a local business website that caters mainly to local customers, then it can possibly make a slight difference if you choose a local hosting company. Just make sure that their servers are also in the local area. Some companies may have their servers in remote locations.

Location and convenience

While you may find great rates from hosting companies located in some distant region or country, there may also be associated inconveniences.

For example, some hosting companies may only offer customer and technical support during local business hours. If the company is in a different time zone, then this may create problems if you insist on real-time support. However, if the hosting company offers 24/7 support, this will not be an issue.

Choosing cheap hosting abroad might also cause problems in communication because of the difference in language.

Some website owners may prefer to work with local hosting companies for a number of reasons. For example, some companies prefer to do business with other local companies for networking purposes. They may wish to recommend the service to others and in the process form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Eco-friendly considerations

Another reason to consider location involves the client’s own sense of social responsibility. Environmentally conscious website owners can choose server locations that are more eco-friendly because of climate or other reasons.

For example, some hosting companies locate server farms in colder climates to lower cooling costs and in the process reduce their carbon footprint. Other data centers take advantage of hydroelectric power or sunny locations for generating electricity through solar panels. In the same way, data centers may locate in windy areas to generate power using wind turbines.

Conclusion

Location can be an important factor depending on the specific requirements of the client. For website owners that want to attract geo-targeted visitors, then location is often crucial. Search engine rankings for local business results often favor sites hosted in the targeted country.

For websites that will mostly attract local visitors, a local server could improve overall performance including page-loading speed. Location can also make a different in the area of sales and technical support and for clients who prefer data centers at more eco-friendly sites.

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