Hosting Issues You Need to Pay Attention to
Last week Google did a great post on their webmaster blog about hosting issues that any webmaster or hosting provider needs to pay attention to in order to improve their website and have better chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. Google is clearly concerned about problems with sites that can be fixed at hosting level, which influences the user experience as well as the ability of fast indexing.
The most common problems you should worry about and try to fix are:
- Blocking Google bots – in some cases Google bots perform a large number of requests, so the hosting protection system may decide to block those bots so they wouldn’t put strain on the server. This is the most common reason, in some cases this is the issue with the CMS used, or due to the misconfiguration of the CMS.
- Availability Issues - website unreachable, crawl errors, they all happen when our website is not available, either due to low server performance, our server bandwidth and number of connections at the moment which causes the server to timeout or reset. In some cases it is because of the server decision to block bots that are overwhelming the server, so they cannot reach it and see it as unreachable.
- Invalid SSL certificates – expired ssl certificates, misconfigured certificates or non-matching SSLs with domain name cause this issue most of the time.
- Wildcard DNS – this can be solved either by not using wildcard DNS or by setting up the website not to respond to non existing hostnames, the best way is to setup the DNS to return a 404 header or to refuse the connection.
- Misconfigured virtual hosting – this is mostly the issue with the hosting provider itself, in some cases a miscounfigured server may return content from just one site located on the server, even though the server is hosting several websites.
- Duplicate content due to hosting specific URLs – this is not a difficult issue to solve, either protect these URLs with a password or block Google bots, you can also change the URL parameters in Google webmaster tools.
- Soft error pages – this is also an easy fix, the best way is to look out for soft errors in GWT, or you can run Fetch as Googlebot tool and see which HTTP status is returning. Then all you have to do is correct the errors by setting them up to their proper status code, or else you may get empty pages indexed.
- Content modification and frames - this is rare, but it’s still an issue with some shady hosting providers, they might insert scripts into your content or reuse your content using iframe.
- Spam and Malware – You can easily screen your website for malware using GWT or other tools, this is not always the issue with the hosting server. The server may be infected causing damage to all the sites hosted there, in which case Google may be forced to act on all the sites hosted there. So be sure to keep a lookout for malware at all time.
These are the main concerns for webmasters to deal with regarding hosting services of their website and also for hosting providers to offer the best possible services that will setup new webmasters from the start without making their life more difficult.
1. Tips for hosting providers and webmasters – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/tips-for-hosting-providers-and.html