Does having your website hosted with an Australian host help SEO, or a US host affect rankings? Will it have a positive effect on SEO or have no benefit on where you rank? It’s a bit of a grey area, as is all of Google, but we have tested and studied the benefits of both, and know what works and assists our rankings best. Can of worms opening in 3, 2, 1….
As long as you have a .com.au top level domain Google wont see it as anything but Australian, you cant even tell it to NOT be Australian in Google’s webmaster tools.
We even have US hosted, US domains (.com / .org) ranking well for Australian searches, just by setting the Google webmaster tools option as Australian).
But it’s a matter of degree.
Officially Google says the IP address/location does matter in these issues.
But Matt Cutts word isn’t 100% reliable, and is intentionally vague.
Sure, without any other geographic SEO applied to the site to steer Google in the most relevant direction to determine the country, by itself IP address will be a deciding factor. This is easily overcome with simple SEO tricks.
What Matt doesnt say, and my reasoning it could matter is the only practical impact would be server load time VS distance, which does impact SEO. If you were Google, what site would you rank higher, a site that takes 1 minute to load, or one that takes a second? Naturally, due to the physical factors of network technology, a website stored on a server in the USA or UK or anywhere on the other side of the world has to travel further over the internet before it reaches your computer in Melbourne than an Australian hosted one. However this does not by default mean it will be faster, and often is not.
You might get a slow Australian host, making it rank worse for SEO factors. The difference between most hosts will make little difference to SEO compared to a poorly coded website that is not well designed by website designers who can make a well coded and efficiently run site. We see sites all the time that would rank far better if only their site structure and backend was programmed more smoothly, in fact most sites are effected by these SEO problems.
In reality, what Matt does not say is that the server location in the scheme of all SEO factors summed together holds practically no sway compared to other SEO factors if you were to rank them with an assigned percentage weight. When you do your Search Engine Optimisation the right way, and put in place all the geographic pointers, IP address makes extremely little to no difference at all to results, nor give any power to improve ranking results based on location. We have disproven this time and time again. There are other more important factors that do affect geographically relevant rankings much more than IP address, and most definitely will hurt or improve your position in the search engines.
From my own extensive testing and work the benefit/penalty difference is negligible as US hosting is the standard and it would be impractical to get penalised. In any event you can tell Google you are an Australian targeted site with the TLD or in Google’s Webmaster Tools as a first step towards steering the relevancy towards Australian users. It should (and has for me) nullified this every time.
With the sites we experiment with and host, we now only have 1 site hosted on Au hosts, and its exponentially more expensive. We only keep it there because the site was bought off someone else for playing with and testing the SEO/pagerank/authority, and didnt want to set off any red flags changing hosts/host info in the whois information.
Non Au hosting has been working for us. If having Au hosting on top of that could have pushed up the rankings even more is hard to say, as all of our sites already do very well.
Many Au hosts are actually just US host affiliates, so be careful not to get shafted that way if you are considering paying through the nose for Australian expensive hosting.
You won’t NOT rank for Australian searches with US hosting. We have position 1 with US domains and US hosting for some Australian Google searches, as do thousands of other people/websites/seo experts, but Au hosting may give you a very tiny boost. i.e. server speed, which would also impact conversions to a small degree, especially if your site is media heavy.
All things considered we say just go for the most reliable host.
We highly recommend Host Gator, you get about 20 times the bandwidth/services and support than most Australian hosts, and more than most US hosts.
Use coupon cheaphost4aus for 25% off here: http://controlaltelite.com.au/hostgatordeal
We feel they offer the best service at the best value, and is the most feature packed of any web host we know.