Something we have noticed is that people seem to be very keen to try and minimise their hosting costs, by getting the cheapest plan available and then putting all their websites into the one account.
On the one hand this can be very good strategy at reducing recurrent costs, but if done ‘blindly’ it can be absolute SEO & traffic suicide, with an inherent massive loss (more than likely greater than the saving) & a security risk to boot. Let me explain.
Google Penguin and Link Farms
The Google Penguin update last year added a lot of checks for what are called ‘link farms’. These are websites specifically set up for the purpose of cross linking to themselves and thereby improving the ranking of each of the sites in turn. This used to be rather an effective, cheap and easy way of getting yourself up the rankings. You just need a method of doing turnkey website development, some cheap website hosting and few otherwise disconnected website domains to cross link.. In fact a whole shady industry grew up around this practice and sold their service on mass to all sorts of businesses and websites.
Well, Google have got wise to this, and by examining several factors, including:
- What machine(s) those websites are running on;
- The machine physical locations,
- DNS domain ownership records,
- Degree of tightness of cross linking done
They added an effective link farm detector into the Penguin release and added a massive negative ranking weighting against not only the link farms but those sites linked to from such link farms, e.g. the link farm clients.
The net effect of this was a whole section of the internet that was utilising this rather black hat SEO technique got hammered and literally vanished overnight from the search results, never to be seen again (it’s darn hard to remove a negative weighting, we know from having to save a new client’s website).
Now as for ‘how’ the negative weighting gets assigned and where it stops, only Google knows, but I would put good money that the negative effect would apply to or cause to be suspect:
- All websites running on the same machine(s)
- All websites owned by the same owner, regardless of location
Which makes sense, if you did it on a set of websites you operate, wouldn’t you do it on all if it was working for you?
Cheap Website Hosting & Google Penguin
Now it occurs to us, that a lot of the factors that triggered the Link Farm ‘ban hammer’ are also shared by cheap hosting providers, namely:
- All your websites with them operate off a single machine or a in single network segment;
- All your websites can be easily traced back to the one operator or owner;
- Technically the websites ‘behave’ the same.
So, if you go with a cheap website hosting provider, and you cross link your websites heavily, you run the very risk that Google might think you are trying to run a Link Farm and punish you…
Cheap Website Hosting benefits no one
To put it simply, if you are purely motivated by reducing the cost of your hosting to its lowest cost, you are in effect ‘giving up’ on wanting to win out on SEO & gaining traffic. Cheap hosting often has a direct correlation with performance and SEO effectiveness.
The reason it’s cheap is that usually several things are cut back, like:
- The ability of your website to deal with peaks in traffic;
- The ability to deal with any particular needs that your website may have technically;
- The degree of ‘separation’ between your website and others on the same hosting is low, so if they get a peak in traffic, everyone suffers.
- General support is extremely limited and not that knowledgable.
It’s this ‘rack em high, sell them cheap’ mindset on such hosting is what really works against you, as over time website traffic as a whole grows by about 15% a year at least, so within 5 years the amount of traffic every website has to deal with doubles. Now for those on cheap hosting this a real problem, as the hosting provider has probably over filled their hosting capacity to maximise revenue, which means very quickly the hosting becomes overloaded and very slow – everyone suffers & because the hosting provider was charging so little to start with, they have limited means to address the situation (and little motivation). I’ve heard of cases of people having to pester CEO’s of such businesses in an effort to get trivial things fixed and having little joy out of it – to them you are just the $5 a month and not much more.
There are also very real security risks with cheap hosting providers. Yes, they will claim they are secure and will protect your website, but do they really? Of those I have looked at they fail at basic security, such as giving away technical implementation details or not providing Dictionary Attack protection as standard – both of which can lead to effective website attacks. Website security is not something you do once and forget, its a constant ongoing battle that requires expertise to do right – something a cheap hosting provider is ill equipped to deal with.
Cheap Hosting Resellers
The other thing to watch out for is cheap hosting providers who are really reselling someone else’s hosting and claiming it as their own! This occurs a lot and makes things even worse, as you have got someone selling a service they have no vested interest in really understanding (it’s probably an aside to another business they do) and a hosting provider who is getting an even smaller slice of the revenue cake – so they are even more likely to not care a hoot about the resellers customers… A recipe for disaster in our books.
Ask them upfront if they run and maintain they own hosting, and what the hosting platform is. If they don’t know – then they are a reseller.
Where we differ is that we do not engage in the ‘cheap’ end of town, i.e. the $5 a month crowd. Reason being is we provide hosting that is:
- Performant – i.e. keeps working under load and is fast.
- Secure – keeps the hackers out and keeps the websites safe.
- SEO tuned – we serve up websites in a way that search engines just love.
- Supported – we perform website upgrades and fixes behind the scenes without you knowing to keep everything ticking along.
Also we operate off multiple locations, so we can set up your websites hosting in a way that will not run the risk of being seen as a ‘Link Farm’. We also 100% operate our own hosting, no reselling going on, we know how it works top to bottom and use that knowledge and flexibility to the benefit of our customers.
So if you would like to know more about our hosting, please get in touch .