SEO and Web Hosting: How to Avoid Downtime When Changing Hosts

April 1, 2008 by Matt Hodgson

One of the major problems and greatest fears for many businesses when moving hosts is downtime.  When your site goes down you can lose visitors, sales and potentially search engine rankings.

Moving web hosts should be a straightforward exercise, there should be little to no down time and your search engine rankings should not feel the pinch.

There are four main points you need to consider when moving from one webhost to another:

Check the IP range you are moving to - there are bad ‘IP’ ranges out there that have been banned or experienced trouble. The last thing you want to do is find your site sitting on one of these ranges. A quick way of checking is simply to see if they are in Google index. Your site’s natural search listings will suffer if found or associated with a bad IP range.

Take a full backup of the website - if anything goes wrong you can roll back quickly, your old host should have a copy of the site (better to be safe than sorry).

Always test - everything may look the same, but it is good practice to test all forms and applications on the site that could break, including the database.

Change DNS - once you have moved the site over to the new host, and everything is working correctly you need to “flick the switch”.  This is a simple matter of changing your DNS. Updating your DNS can be done via your registrar, simply login and update the current DNS with the NEW IP of the website.

Finally, wait for the DNS to propagate, this means, wait for the rest of the internet to notice that the site has moved and that it must look at the new IP address for your web address. This process should take no longer than 48 Hours.

Dedicated or shared hosting, which is better?

There is an ongoing debate as to which hosting is better for search engine optimization, dedicated or shared / virtual hosting.

Dedicated hosting means that your website will receive its own ‘IP’, assuming it is easier for the search engines to identify your website.

Shared hosting means that your website will be sharing the same ‘IP’ as a number of other websites. Some people believe that there is a potential of your site being blacklisted due to another websites actions.

This is not true, search engines will not black list an entire IP unless of course this IP and the websites sharing it are clearly displaying typical spam activity i.e. link farming, link sharing etc.

From an SEO perspective, either hosting solution is suitable.

Matt Hodgson currently runs, an internet marketing e-magazine providing free and professional search engine submission and other search engine optimization tools.

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