Clients are often surprised when we ask about their website server neighbors. Believe it or not, it can actually be an White Hat SEO factor. And it’s something in your control. In this post I’ll explain why you should know who else is sharing your server and how to ensure your website is in good company.
The Company You Keep
When buying real estate there’s a saying: “location, location, location.” Where you are located affects property values. Knowing who your server neighbors are — fellow website hosted on the same service — is a controllable factor in White Hat SEO. In most cases, it’s not a problem. However, there are some businesses that are automatically considered web spammers. The adult industry immediately comes to mind. Payday lenders are also a target.
Why It Matters
Part of the Panda 4.0 release contained a Payday Loan Algorithm; it was specifically aimed at Payday Loans. This 2.0 release was a follow-up to a 2013 algo change. In general, these types of sites tend to have thin or spammy content. If a large percentage of your server neighbors are considered web spammers, then the whole server may be flagged as suspicious.
Even if your website follows the rules, your business may see unintended and unwanted effects to your organic search visibility. Here’s a real example. We saw an immediate jump in organic SEO when we moved a client off a particularly spammy server (96% of the websites were adult-content related).They received a bump in visibility just from this small change.
In this Webmaster Tool video from May 2013, Matt Cutts explained how Google targets sites who tend to use seedier SEO tactics. While the video is only ~7 minutes long, you can skip ahead to 3:00 to get to the “good parts.” Please note that some of the information Matt shares is technical; so it’s helpful for those who take Webmastering seriously. Granted the video is over a year old, the advice is still evergreen.
Checking Your Server Neighbors
So how do you make sure that your website is in good company? Here’s a free tool from You Get Signal. Just plug-in your URL and it will let you know who your server neighbors are. My suggestion is to do some spot checking to see what your fellow server-mates are doing on the web.
Were you surprised that your server neighbors’ reputation can hurt you? Is your website keeping good company?
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