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Does the Geographic Location of a Web Server Affect SEO?

One SEO professional asked John Mueller on YouTube whether migrating a site’s web server hosting location to another country affects SEO?

John explained that when it comes to web hosting, it’s possible that you might see Google initially slowing down crawling just a bit.

Anytime that Google recognizes a hosting change, they want to be sure that they don’t cause any problems. And so they tend to automatically slow down crawling as a precaution. Over time, once their systems can tell that going faster doesn’t cause any issues, they will speed things up again. This is independent of the kind of hosting change that you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to a different provider down the road, or moving to another country.

One practical effect you might notice is that larger geographic moves can affect how quickly a website loads for users. Due to physics and computer networking, it can take longer to reach a server that’s physically located farther away. Depending on how strongly this is visible, this can play a role in speed and the page experience ranking factor for a website. To be as close as possible to users, some websites even use servers in many different locations.

A CDN (content delivery network) often does this. If you’re using a hosting platform, they may already be doing this for you as well. This configuration is just fine when it comes to Google. Regarding SEO, the server location is not something that Google uses for geo targeting. If you’re somebody who wants your site to target users in a specific location, you need to use either the country code top level domain (ccTLD), or the appropriate setting in Google Search Console.

John Mueller AskGooglebot Transcript

John
Today’s question was posted on YouTube and it asks whether migrating a website’s hosting location to another country affects SEO. When it comes to moving hosting, you might see our systems initially slowing down crawling a bit. Anytime we recognize a hosting change, we want to be sure that we don’t cause any problems.

And so we tend to automatically slow down crawling as a precaution. Over time, once our systems can tell that going faster doesn’t cause any issues, we’ll speed up again. This is independent of the kind of hosting change that you make. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to a different provider down the road, or moving to another country.

One practical effect you might notice is that larger geographic moves can affect how quickly a website loads for users. Due to physics and computer networking, it can take longer to reach a server that’s far away. Depending on how strongly this is visible, that can play a role in speed and the page experience ranking factor for a website.

To be as close as possible to users, some websites even use servers in many different locations. A content delivery network often does this. If you’re using a hosting platform, they may already be doing this for you too. This configuration is fine for Google. With regards to SEO, the server’s location is not used for geo targeting.

If you want your website to target users in a specific location, you would need to use either the country code top level domain or the appropriate setting in Google Search Console. I hope this gives you some insight into what happens when you move your server’s location.

Source: Mar 4, 2022; Youtube: Google Search Central

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