International SEO: is server location important?

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Managing a successful international web strategy would be much easier if just one hosting company
could host multiple local domains on local servers through a single control panel. Unfortunately, it is not the case.

If you have purchased unique domains for the different languages ​​of your website, you can:

  • host all your languages ​​/ domains in one country WHERE
  • host individual languages ​​/ domains in target countries

Where to host a multilingual website?

This is a question our customers have been asking us for years. In 2011, our managing director, Daniel Rajkumar, blogged about server locations for multilingual websites, writing

“The first thing to observe is that for SEO purposes the benefit is negligible and there are other things you should do first that will help your multi-home SEO.”

This holds true many years later – and that’s a long time in digital. In its current FAQ, Google states that server location is not too important for geo-targeting:

Q: Is server location important for geo targeting?
A: If you can use one of the other ways to set geo targeting (ccTLD geo targeting tool or Webmaster Tools), you don’t have to worry about the location of the server. However, we recommend that you make sure that your website is hosted in a way that allows your users to access it quickly (which is often done by choosing hosting near your users).

Additionally, Google’s John Mueller discussed the link between IP address and SEO in a webmaster forum, claiming

for search, especially for geo targeting, server location plays a very small role, in many cases it is irrelevant. If you are using a ccTLD or gTLD with the webmaster tools, we will primarily use geo-targeting from there, regardless of your server location. You definitely don’t need to host your website in a specific geographic location. Use whatever works best for you and provide that information to us through ccTLD or webmaster tools. “

This emphasizes that Google uses ccTLDs rather than server location, which is why we recommend that you use a ccTLD and define your geographic information in webmaster tools to improve the Google ranking in your target market.

there is still some left advantages of local hosting, in addition to its possibly “irrelevant” and “very small” role in geographic targeting:

  • Speed. Your page load rate may be faster with a local host or with a local proxy server.
  • If you later want to sell part of your business. Being able to easily “split” a website can be advantageous, and if it already has local hosting, it can be a positive for local buyers.

From an IT point of view, the management and maintenance of several servers is administrative (and expensive if they are dedicated servers). It is much better to have one server that is well managed and maintained than several “budget” servers.

If you decide that local hosting is not necessary and you are happy with your current web hosting company, check with them about hosting your new local domain names specific to your country as they can host ccTLD domain or IDN ccTLD names that are part of your current and future international marketing strategy. If they can’t help you, they should be able to point you in the right direction. We have found that companies like fasthosts.com and justhost.co.uk can host a good range of ccTLDs.

Key terms in plain language:

IP adress
A number assigned to a computer (or server, printer, etc.) in a network. It contains information about the location of the computer.

Proxy server
A local server through which you can route your website no matter where your server is actually located. It gives the impression of being hosted locally. Caching your website files on the proxy server can also reduce your site’s page load times, which will improve user experience and bounce rate.

Geographic targeting
This is when a website visitor receives different content specific to their location. Google uses geo-targeting, which means that the geolocation of a person performing a search on Google will determine the search results. Google’s FAQ states that in order to improve your site’s performance in a particular region, you should make it “clear what your pages are trying to target: for example, physical addresses, a local phone number, a Google+ listing. Local, use of appropriate currency, etc.

TLD (top level domain)
In the Internet hierarchy, a TLD is at the top of all other domain names. TLDs include the 7 generic TLDs (gTLDs), such as com, report and organization, as well as country code TLDs (ccTLDs).

ccTLD (country code top level domain)
A ccTLD is a type of TLD reserved for a particular country or territory. For example, domains ending in Fr and of are ccTLDs. (Interesting note: .co.uk is actually a second-level domain, not a ccTLD. UK the extension is the ccTLD for the UK, and the co part of a .co.uk website address indicates that it is a corporate website.)

IDN ccTLD (top level domain with international country code)
This is a ccTLD in non-Latin script, such as Chinese or Arabic. These are more and more frequent.


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