Server location plays a pivotal role in website performance. However, the advent of cloud-based web apps has given us the pretense that data can be stored anywhere without consequence. Is server location important? The advent of cloud computing infrastructures – not to mention the ubiquity of mobile devices used by millions around the world has led many to believe that the physical locations of computer servers are no longer particularly important.
While it’s true that we can now access information from virtually anywhere, rather than remaining dependent on resources that are located on a particular site, server location is still relevant. Here are a few factors to take under consideration when choosing a server or data center location.
What is a Server Location?
Every piece of information on the internet is stored on some computers across the world. We call the server for the computers that store websites. Servers store information and serve it to the browsers when they get a request from the browser.
Servers are physical machines and the location where they are located is called server location.
Why the Location of Server Matters
There are many reasons for the importance of server location. All of them are very closely related.
If you’re looking to switch hosting providers, it’s important to keep the location of the majority of your visitors in mind. For example, if most of the hits to your website are made by visitors in the United States, choosing a server outside of the country will likely cause slow loading times. Loading time is essential to the success of a web page, especially if the owner is relying on said success to promote their online store or business. Servers that are located a significant distance away from your target visitor base will likely make loading and viewing your site a challenge for them.
Server Location Affects SEO
There are many ways in which the location of the server affects SEO. When the server is in the same location as your target market, normally it would be loaded faster for them. This has several benefits.
Lower Bounce Rate: The page loading time and bounce rate are positively correlated. It means when the page loading time is high, the bounce rate is also high. Naturally, when the websites are loaded faster, the bounce rate should be low. Many experiments have already proved that a decrease of a few milliseconds in the page loading time can significantly affect the bounce rate.
Higher Conversion: Low loading time improves the user experience of the website and hence it can positively impact the conversion. Visitors expect a page to be completely loaded in less than 2 seconds. When a website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, users become impatient and they are highly likely to leave the website immediately. On the other hand, when the site has good speed, visitors are more likely to open more pages on a website. It increases the living time and conversion rate of the website.
Improve Page Ranking: The IP location of the website is believed to be a ranking signal and several studies proved that Google and other main search engines consider it as a ranking factor.
Moreover, the bounce rate of a web page is considered a ranking factor by search engines because it is a great signal to find out the relevance and usefulness of content on a web page. Therefore, a lower bounce rate can improve the page ranking. Additionally, the high living time on the website also positively affects the ranking.
Server Location Affects Cost
Putting your server in a different country might be a more or less expensive way to host your website. Some countries have lower energy costs and lower taxes, so you’ll spend less money or more money on your servers by putting them there. There can also be tax differences in different states and regions. Depending on whether you purchase or rent server space, you’ll classify these costs as hardware or operation costs, which can affect your tax structures.
Privacy and Security
Many different countries have different privacy and information laws that govern the way that governments can or can’t obtain information. This means that some sites will want the protection of a certain political-legal location and may want to avoid others. Of course, some countries won’t care if your servers are in another country or not. They may still take action if you’re running the site out of their country. For example, Japan doesn’t allow gambling. You can’t put a gambling site on servers in Japan. But you also can’t run a gambling site out of your house in Japan even if the servers are in a different country. When you run a website out of one country and servers out of another, you might find yourself at interesting government and legal intersections.
Additionally, some industries and data types have compliance regulations for where the servers can be located. You may not be able to store certain medical records or even medical-adjacent information on servers located in certain places.
It is always better for companies to choose a server in the same location as their target market. When there is no specific location for the target market, the best option would be the fastest servers anywhere in the world.
It should be noted that most of the hosting companies don’t provide the exact location or country of the servers instead, they provide the name of the continent. Therefore, sometimes we can’t find where the web servers are located exactly. In such cases, you would have to contact the support team of the hosting company to get such details.