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Moving To the Cloud: Is It Worth The Hassle?


In recent years, there’s been a lot of noise about cloud hosting. Many website owners recognise the necessity of migrating from an on-site hosting system to a cloud hosting infrastructure. While most see this is a wise business decision, others are not so sure.

The popular saying “Why fix it if it isn’t broke?” comes immediately to mind. Traditional on-site hosting has (to a point) been providing excellent service, so is moving your website to a cloud infrastructure really worth the hassle?
In today’s digital age, cloud solutions offer effective, economical, performance driven and more secure solutions. However, while most businesses trust cloud computing to provide secure, easy-to-use-and-reach file storage and access to certain applications, they may be slightly reluctant when it comes to migrating to a cloud hosting platform. However, it’s important to note that in today’s increasingly competitive market, something as simple as website hosting can enhance or cripple a business’s SEO efforts.

What is the difference between on-site hosting and cloud hosting?

All the information on your website is stored somewhere. In an on-site server infrastructure, this would likely be some physical servers at a particular location. In a physical server environment, businesses pay for either exclusive or shared use of one or more of these servers. In cloud hosting on the other hand, service providers manage the account across several servers and move resources to and fro (to accommodate each account owner’s unique demands). This way, resource allocation is optimised to minimise downtime, whilst improving website load speed.

Businesses that choose to use cloud hosting infrastructure cannot control the choice of operating system, security protocols, or any other server or resource related arrangement, though they do enjoy the benefit of several advantages not available to traditional on-site hosting. Because it doesn’t require on-site infrastructure, cloud hosting offers a more cost effective solution in addition to better security and improved reliability.

Every business is unique, but also understanding the uniqueness in hosting solutions can serve as the basis of an effective SEO campaign, suggests experts at domain4less. Controlling the technical aspects of a website can improve user experience and boost search-engine rankings.

SEO Considerations

From an SEO standpoint, opting for cloud hosting can provide significant value to your business. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital to maintaining competitive advantage and consumer awareness. SEO comprises all the activities undertaken to ensure a website ranks high in search results for users’ search queries relating to products, services and information it offers.

There are several factors that contribute to the success of SEO efforts, such as the quality of a website’s content, application and organisation of keywords, number of websites linking back to the site, and much more. Studies have shown that the choice of web host also plays a vital role in a site’s visibility. It’s also been proven that switching to a cloud hosting infrastructure can help improve SEO.

Let us look at a few ways in which this is possible.

Page load speed

As a result of Google’s algorithm update in 2010, website speed became one of the principal factors that affects page rank. Even though many website owners are of the opinion that speed is not of paramount importance when it comes to SEO, the truth is that having a slow loading site that cost you points in terms of ranking for search. One of Google’s major areas of concentration is user experience. Suffice to say, a slow loading website doesn’t provide the best user experience. All in all, about seven in every ten visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to provide the information they need and in most cases, 80% of these users will never return to the website.

Of course, there are several reasons why a website might have a slow load speed, such as its framework, the size and configuration of files and folders and even the device a visitor is using to access the site. Predominantly, where the website is hosted matters most. For traditional on-site servers, location is an important consideration. Site visitors from the same region where the website’s server is located will enjoy faster speed than those browsing from a different location. However, for cloud hosting, location is irrelevant. It functions better than traditional hosting by making a website available simultaneously, across several locations. This means that regardless of where visitors are coming from, they’d get the same level of speed. Cloud hosting is also scalable. This means that resources can be allocated to meet the demands of traffic increase. While you may be charged by your provider if they notice an unusual traffic spike on your account, your website will not slow down or stop responding. These benefits can only be accessed on a cloud hosting infrastructure and all add up to an enhanced user experience.

Goodbye to location advantage


Not too long ago, businesses that wanted to rank high in search for local content needed to own multiple country code top level domains (ccTLD) in the locations where they wanted to conduct business. They did this because search engines such as Google and Bing placed focus on geography in search results. For instance, if a user was looking for used cars in New Zealand, websites selling used cars with a .CO.NZ extension would appear at the top of the page, effectively ranking higher than other websites with regular domain extensions.

However, with the advent of cloud hosting, this process is no longer needed. Websites using cloud hosting infrastructure are not restricted to a single location, so the emphasis on geography is moot. A PR firm in New Zealand no longer has to worry about losing customers to another in France because of server location. SEO specialists at Click SEO Services suggest that with cloud hosting, businesses now have the ability to expand their reach and services to any market in any country, without having to leave their home office, nor buy a country related domain extension.

Protection from bots and malicious scripts


When search engines calculate the features of a website to determine its ranking, one of the factors that contribute to a fall in rank is the presence of bots and malicious codes that use up a website’s resources for illegitimate purposes.

An example is scraping bots. These bots are responsible for duplicating content from one website to another. Scraping bots crawl through websites, copying and duplicating its content and links. These cause confusion amongst users, as they are no longer certain which website is the original owner of the content they’re consuming. Some unscrupulous people even use this system to clone e-commerce websites so that they can relieve unsuspecting buyers of their money. Duplicate content not only affects a website’s SERP, but also the business’s reputation (adversely).

Link spamming bots can also cause serious damage to your SEO efforts. When you notice links in comments on your blogs that invite you to click for more information on a particular product or offer, you can tell that link spamming bots are at work on your site.

Search engines like Google and Bing keep specific Trust and Authority Ratings, which is a crucial index for calculating website rankings. Whenever these types of links are found on a website, the website’s Trust and Authority ranking drops automatically and can cause the page to rank poorly in search for relevant keywords. For websites hosted on physical on-site servers, it may be possible to manually remove these links and correct duplicate content. However, cloud hosting provides a more secure solution and advanced protection that makes it impossible for your website to be affected by bots.

Matt says so

SEO practitioners and website owners know that much of what happens at Google, stays in Google. Every so often though – after a particular algorithm update – Matt Cutts will make a much awaited post, touching on a couple of things you should avoid for better ranking. The truth is that when Matt speaks, the entire SEO world pays attention. A few years ago, Matt made a video on YouTube titled ‘Big changes to expect in search in the next few years’. In it he said “As more people get familiar with online computing, a lot of them will choose to move their data from on-site servers and store them on the cloud. This will make searching in the cloud for relevant information more important”.

This is as much an endorsement as anyone can expect to receive from Google about the importance of cloud hosting. While it may not necessarily be your primary reason for switching to cloud storage, it can’t be argued that paying attention to Matt Cutts’ opinion is good for SEO.

Conclusion

For most business owners, switching from an on-site server to a cloud hosting infrastructure may appear like a tedious process; after all, their business is doing okay with the current setup. Even if this is the case, there’s still a need to explore every available option for improvement. One thing modern business has taught entrepreneurs is that the competition is not asleep. They are constantly looking for and discovering new ways to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in the industry. If you’re wondering whether a switch to cloud hosting is worth the hassle, then from the above benefits discussed, the answer is obviously ‘Yes’.