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Does server location effect SEO?

10:54 pm on Mar 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 11, 2012
posts: 227
votes: 3

This question has been addressed multiple times, but I can't seem to find a straight answer. Does the location of my server effect SEO?

So, I run a business where my customers come from around the world but 80% are in the USA. I recently decided to start hosting my site in the Netherlands because of the recent DMCA scare. The problem is, does hosting my site there hurt my ability to rank in the USA?

This past summer my site dropped in ranking due to toxic links. I have since cleaned up those links. Now, I am in the process of starting a SEO campaign to bring in more Google.com traffic but I am afraid that my efforts may be wasted is in the site is hosted in another country side the USA.

Two things.

1. Right now Google Webmaster Tools targets the site everywhere. Should I target the USA specifically?

2. What about using distributed domain name server services like CloudFlare? Right now, CF shows me being in USA. Does that help me at all?

I'm trying to figure out the trade off of going to Netherlands for protection vs. potentially harming my business is in the USA but ranking better.
1:21 am on Mar 4, 2014 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Aug 10, 2004
votes: 8

the location might have some small effect but i would be more concerned about how latency affects the visitor experience for 80% of your visitors.

this is about all you'll hear from google if you are looking for a "straight answer":
http://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192 [support.google.com]:
If Google is aware of the country targeted by a site, we can use this information to improve the quality of our search results in different countries. Google generally uses the following elements to determine a website’s targeted country:
(and then listed as the third element)
Server location (through the IP address of the server). The server location is often physically near your users and can be a signal about your site’s intended audience. Some websites use distributed content delivery networks (CDNs) or are hosted in a country with better webserver infrastructure, so it is not a definitive signal.