Hosting providers give you easy access to the online world but building a website is just the first step toward your project's success. How are you going to promote the site? What channels would bring you the most targeted audience? Should you go for paid ads, organic traffic, or a combination of both?
While you have many business decisions ahead of you, the choice of a web hosting plan is the foundation everything lies upon. If your foundations are not solid - even the fanciest roof will crumble.
Here is our take on one of the trendiest services in web hosting - virtual private servers.
- Check out our roundup of the best web hosting
What is VPS hosting
Hosting providers take advantage of a process called virtualization to split a single physical server into multiple virtual instances. The host allocates a dedicated set of system resources to every user and isolates each account in a caged environment, acting completely independently.
VPS services solve many of the problems associated with shared hosting - oversold servers, resource hogging, hacker breaches from neighboring accounts.
Compared to the next step you can take, renting an entire dedicated server, VPS platforms prove much more affordable while keeping most of the benefits.
- These are the best VPS hosting providers on the market
Types of VPS hosting
In terms of what's included in the package, there are two distinct types of VPS hosting - managed and unmanaged.
If you're a beginner in the field and don't have much technical knowledge about server setup and management, going for a managed VPS deal would be your best bet. While slightly more expensive, this service lets you take advantage of the expert support team of your provider. Their role typically covers the initial server setup, hardware maintenance, software installation, updates, and technical issues. You can see how this extra help would be highly beneficial for startups and SMBs with less experience in the field.
In comparison, unmanaged VPS solutions are definitely a better fit for the pros. The service includes the monthly rent of a bare-metal machine and probably some initial setup. You get full control of the server, so what you do with it is entirely up to you. As technical support is not included, though, you're on your own if you run into trouble. Managing a virtual server might be a breeze for experienced developers and web admins, but first-timers can find the service a bit overwhelming.
Working closely with many providers on a daily basis, we can highlight ScalaHosting as one of the hosts that offer top-tier managed and unmanaged VPS solutions.
What is SEO?
Now for the good stuff.
You have a reliable hosting provider and your website is already up and running - so what next?
When promoting your online project, it's important to utilize multiple channels for the best effect. A proper SEO strategy should be among your first steps.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and outlines the process of improving your website to get better rankings and more recognition in search engines. It is an ongoing process that has the potential to bring excellent organic traffic, and most importantly - it's absolutely free to employ.
Understanding SEO is not the easiest thing in the world. There are over 200 factors involved, and search engine giants like Google do their best to keep their cards close when it comes to explaining how the algorithms work.
Still, from what we know and have seen trough our own testing, there are numerous ways in which web hosting affects SEO.
- We've rounded up the best SEO tools available
VPS hosting SEO benefits
Apart from its business advantages, a great virtual private server can bring some search engine optimization benefits as well. These include:
- Optimized Site Speed - if there is one thing we definitely know about Google rankings is that site speed plays a major role when it comes to better placement in search results. If two websites offer similar content and site structure, the faster one will always rank better. As VPS hosting offers a dedicated amount of resources and the ability to scale, you can ensure an optimized environment for your site to run at lightning-fast speeds.
- Guaranteed Uptime - a great benefit of a reliable VPS host is that the company guarantees your site availability at all times. Starting from the server datacenter and setup, the provider can set numerous failsafe procedures in place, so your online project is up at all times. Cloud VPS solutions are particularly beneficial in that aspect, allowing you to employ a huge network of servers, all carrying a copy of your site content. Of course, you should never overlook good practices like account monitoring and daily backups. In terms of SEO, this ensures the search engine robots will always see your website as working and reliable, giving it a subsequent boost in the rankings.
- Hardened Security - while not directly influencing SEO, keeping your website secure should always be a top priority. Imagine a scenario where hackers break in and replace your site content with their own or completely remove it. Looking around your website, search engine crawlers will see irrelevant, dangerous, or missing pages - all of which are alarming signs when rating content.
- Root Access - being able to change every little thing in your server configuration gives you the flexibility to apply specific optimizations or install plugins with not-so-standard requirements. While some managed VPS hosts offer it, the best way to get full root access is on an unmanaged machine. Provided you have enough help or know what you're doing - there is no better way to customize your server to perfection.
- HTTPS Encryption - while hinting at it a few times in the past, Google has now confirmed that HTTPS encryption is not only a search ranking factor - it's one that carries a great deal of weight. SSL certificates are the tools to do it, securing the entire "communication" between browser and server. As the market today offers even free SSL solutions, you have no excuse for not getting one. Building customer trust and loyalty while reaping some sweet SEO benefits should be a no-brainer.
- Dedicated IP - having your very own IP address might not have a direct impact on your SEO, but it brings a ton of complimentary benefits. The dedicated IP allows for easy server access and enhanced security, both essential aspects of your online business. Not to mention you would need one to install a private SSL certificate. Reliable VPS providers often include at least one free dedicated IP with their virtual server packages.
To summarize, your VPS host plays a key role in your SEO efforts. A great hosting provider will ensure your server is always up, running fast, and properly secured against unauthorized access. Combined with a suitable site-building tool, plugins, and a marketing strategy, you're already on the right path to impressing search engines and organic visitors.
- We've also featured the best VPS hosting
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.