How important is geographic location in hosting these days?

LeeLee OG
edited April 4 in General

So an interesting discussion I have been having this morning.

How much value do you place on location when it comes to hosting websites?

For example, if your website was about a shop in the UK then it makes sense to host in the UK. You are less concerned with someone in Asia having speedy access.

But what if you chose a host that was in the Netherlands or Germany, would it make that much difference to speed for those in the UK or affect SEO that much?

Admittedly I am no expert but I don't think it would make that much difference these days. Put something like Cloudflare up-front and if you are using something like a .co.uk or a .uk then the likes of Google and other search engines will know where you are most likely targeting.

Views? I may be wrong, quite possible :)

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  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    I'm no expert from an SEO point of view but unless it's the other side of the world then hosting in Europe for the UK has no noticeable slowdown in terms of speed. More likely to be effected by how well the website performs.

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  • UK to NL/DE you won't feel. It's in the ~10ms range.

    Europe vs USA you'll definitely feel though.

    For SEO purposes - I guess it depends on where the search index spider is located. To be honest I don't think it matters <100ms

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  • ChievoChievo OG
    edited April 4

    @Lee said:
    So an interesting discussion I have been having this morning.

    How much value do you place on location when it comes to hosting websites?

    For example, if your website was about a shop in the UK then it makes sense to host in the UK. You are less concerned with someone in Asia having speedy access.

    But what if you chose a host that was in the Netherlands or Germany, would it make that much difference to speed for those in the UK or affect SEO that much?

    Admittedly I am no expert but I don't think it would make that much difference these days. Put something like Cloudflare up-front and if you are using something like a .co.uk or a .uk then the likes of Google and other search engines will know where you are most likely targeting.

    Views, I am wrong, quite possibly :)

    I am not a seo ninja but my 2 cents. It depends from the website. Like you have said for europe it does not matter which country would you choose germany uk nl or france . it is just ms . so for my needs i am using hetzner (price is super and it is ok for me (for spain) ) . If i have an international website i would put it into east coast of US ( may be the best option( if i am not wrong) to serve US europe south america and asia) . I do not believe that the country matters in question of SEO. If your website needs 12 seconds to charge the ms are not the problem. I think that efficiency is more important than in which country do the hosting.

    Pd. If you are living in the uk and the webpage is for the uk definitely uk hosting is tje best option. No gdpr or so i think

    I am not an expert. I could be wrong

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  • @Mr_Tom said: More likely to be effected by how well the website performs

    That was another point actually. I suggested that even if you picked a UK host and the performance is poor that will likely affect you more than say a German host that was significantly more performant.

  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    @Lee said: That was another point actually. I suggested that even if you picked a UK host and the performance is poor that will likely affect you more than say a German host that was significantly more performant.

    Yeah I'd agree with that - you're more likely to be marked down from an SEO/usability point if the website takes 3 seconds to load due to poor code/optimisation than losing 5ms if it's in Germany

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  • mikhomikho AdministratorHosting ProviderOG

    Depending on the content of the site.

    Outside/inside the EU.
    Thats all I care about.

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  • edited April 4

    I've been also thinking about a similar problem the other day (i.e. what might be arguably the single best place to host a global website on the cheap?) - but then, I realized I'm not exactly sure how the Internet works OTL. (Lots of speculation follows, please correct me in case I'm wrong)

    For example, in the case of a hypothetical website aimed at the British market, would it matter where in Germany/the Netherlands it is hosted?

    I'm concerned that smaller providers that might have less access to the major exchanges listed here - or `perhaps, in extreme cases, no direct access at all, if located in a small and distant - at least as far as the UK is concerned - country, let's say in the Baltics or in Romania - which, as far as my understanding goes implies higher latency due to more network hops and/or suboptimal routing.

    Maybe even if located in the geographically close Netherlands, a low end provider colocated at a low end datacenter (since e.g. I imagine everything outside Amsterdam / other major cities to be cheaper) might end up being not well connected, leading to worse latencies from the UK than compared to some other ISP with a direct connection to the DE-CIX, for example?

    On the other hand, I imagine that, the bigger your provider is, the better connected they are; this example might be an outlier, but seemingly, behemots like Hetzner seem to have tons of external connections - be it with the aforementioned Internet exchanges, or directly with various ISPs from multiple countries - which makes me think that, from a layman's point of view, if you're aiming for as much speed as possible at the low end, Hetzner might be a better choice than some other popular low end providers (who might even offer otherwise more attractive VPS = more CPU/RAM/storage for the same $) - examples:

    Not sure what the US equivalent of Hetzner might be though (=similarly well connected, and at the same time, relatively cheap servers)

  • YmpkerYmpker OGContent Writer

    @mikho said:
    Depending on the content of the site.

    Outside/inside the EU.
    Thats all I care about.

    Basically the same for me.

  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    My ISP (Zen, UK) is well connected but they route everything to London first - so London has low ping times, but Manchester for example (which is ~40 mile away) is similar ping as Hetzner Falkenstein as it does a long trip down to London and back North.

    Manchester: ~25ms
    Falkenstein: ~28ms

    However, London is about 10ms (depending on which DC). So from a UK website for UK people as an example, depending on internal routing Hetzner is just the same as using a host outside of London.

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  • LeeLee OG
    edited April 4

    @Mr_Tom said: My ISP (Zen, UK) is well connected but they route everything to London first - so London has low ping times, but Manchester for example (which is ~40 mile away) is similar ping as Hetzner Falkenstein as it does a long trip down to London and back North.

    I am the same, up in Scotland, just outside Glasgow. Everything is a round trip via London. So for me the same thing. That extra bit to/from large parts of Europe has no real effect.

    I mean the UK example is just that. A good host in the UK when targeting mostly or only UK visitors is probably the right way to go.

    Just that there are alternatives that won't harm speed/SEO.

  • IDK about the SEO part but from the user perspective, didnot really notice Singapore or US/EU location this day from Indonesia, some location ~250ms.

    Maybe we too used to these kinds of sloweness. For SSH connection I notice the lag there, but not when watching streaming or browsing

  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    @Lee said: I mean the UK example is just that. A good host in the UK when targeting mostly or only UK visitors is probably the right way to go.

    Definitely. But at the same time most of the EU-based hosting would be fine too. I just wouldn't go US/Asia/Aus for UK based sites.

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  • MasonMason AdministratorOG
    edited April 4

    I used to be really big into hosting game servers, so latency and having well-peered and well-positioned locations was critical. Main locations I always searched for was Chicago for US-only game servers, NYC for US + EU-targeted servers, and France for EU-only game servers. Nowadays I don't do much game hosting anymore and mostly host websites or Plex servers, so much less important for me recently.

    But still... I'd take a NYC server which is 5ms from my house over a Germany server which is ~100ish ms from my house any day of the week if the pricing is similar. One of the main reasons why I quickly hopped on Clouvider's launch offer when they put servers in NY and proceeded to set up that as my main Plex server -- having such a powerful server so close to me is amazing. I envy those who live close to Hetzner POPs for that reason.

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  • vyasvyas OGContent Writer
    edited April 4

    The question I feel can have three parts:

    a. Provider with a hosting location closest to you

    b. Hosting provider with locations closest to your largest visitor/customer base

    c. Hosting within a country or region mandatory because of data privacy / local laws/ nature of business/ national/ regional pride.

    In the first two cases, the provider need not have a register business in your country.

    Like many people, during pre- LE* days, I tried shared hosting with local players, and Godaddy. Resulted in bad taste in the mouth about local providers. Some hosts on LE* changed this perception for me - excluding GD of course! Another provider I host with had a registered business in my city, now they reincorporated in the UK.

    Majority of our visitors come from within country (India), other major chunk from North America. Germany and Singapore give similar performance in terms of speed/ latency as local.


    @Mason said:
    I used to be really big into hosting game servers, so latency and having well-peered and well-positioned locations was critical.

    Have played our share of Age of Empires on dial up, have we? (or worse, AOL "Broadband")

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  • LeeLee OG
    edited April 4

    So more of a performance proof of concept I took a large, image-heavy WordPress install, not mine but I had permission and copied it to various locations and then ran it through GTMetrix. Either cPanel/DirectAdmin with Cloudflare.

    Hostmantis UK (cPanel) - TTFB (0.9) - FCP (1.4) - LCP (2.6)
    Brixly UK (cPanel)- TTFB (0.7) - FCP (1.2) - LCP (1.9)
    BuyVM LUX (DA)- TTFB (0.5) - FCP (0.9) - LCP (1.4)
    Hetzner Cloud (DA) - TTFB (0.6) - FCP (1) - LCP (1.6)

    Of course, there is elements that will affect each result but ultimately two good UK providers vs two good EU providers and performance is better outside of the UK than in. Surprisingly HostMantis vs other is quite poor which I was surprised with. 2.6s to the largest contentful paint vs as low as 1.4s is a major difference that visitors will notice.

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  • Yes and no, sometimes the GEO position is perfect but the connectivity is bad, GEO does not always matter and sometimes makes things worse.

  • deankdeank OGOfficial Troll

    Doesn't matter.

    It matters to only geeks.

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  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    @Lee said: Of course, there is elements that will affect each result but ultimately two good UK providers vs two good EU providers and performance is better outside of the UK than in.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you're comparing shared hosting with a VPS?

    I don't know the specific details of the site but I'd be interested to see it - we look after and optimise a few sites for managed clients and as an example TTFB 94ms, FCP 325ms, LCP 529ms for a Wordpress site (although I don't know the details of your site so may be a completely irrelevant comparison).

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  • InceptionHostingInceptionHosting Hosting ProviderOG
    edited April 4

    I just pick a happy medium and be done with it personally. Probably not right but it’s good enough :)

    Uk is ok for Europe, UK and much of America. Everywhere else is probably used to higher latency for English content so the UK just works for me.

    Obviously you can improve on that with route66 and multiple front ends and caches and cdns but really if you are relying on the super optimisation to get listed higher in google and that is your first concern that means you are probably not naturally appealing to the target audience anyway and that should be fixed first.

    If I am interested I dare say I can wait 2 seconds for a page to load :)

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  • Actually, it's unlikely anyone has pings higher than 400ms to anywhere else in the world. Considering many websites take at least 1 second to load, the 400ms ping honestly doesn't matter much. (And realistically, your ping rarely is worse than 250ms) If your website somehow loads 10s of MBs per page, then the location would matter. Otherwise, I really don't think it matters. Most people are probably fine waiting 2-3 seconds for a page to load, so ping honestly is whatever

    SEO is kinda like pseudo-science and I can't back this up, but I believe having your cctld domain and maybe listing a local address/number would be much more helpful than choosing a host within the country.

  • LeeLee OG
    edited April 4

    @Mr_Tom said: Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you're comparing shared hosting with a VPS?

    All shared/reseller hosting, no VPS, well maybe running on a VPS but I doubt it. Can't share the site, not mine, just used it as an example with the person I was discussing this whole topic with.

    Also, appears to be large just resized images on the homepage which does not help. Not very well optimised.

  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    @Lee said: All shared/reseller hosting, no VPS

    Ah sorry you mentioned Hetzner Cloud so assumed it was a VPS.

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  • @Mr_Tom said: Ah sorry you mentioned Hetzner Cloud so assumed it was a VPS.

    Sorry, just meant Hetzner, got their cloud on my mind as I am testing some things on there today..

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  • My experiment, with a real, live website:

    https://io.bikegremlin.com/19312/server-location-speed-impact/

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  • @InceptionHosting said: If I am interested I dare say I can wait 2 seconds for a page to load

    Whilst I agree with the happy medium approach unless there is something specific about your targeting needs, I honestly detest a site that makes me wait 2 seconds or more.

  • @Lee Well you mentioned Cloudflare and further explained and I agree, up to a point CDN's should make it up for the difference in location between server and visitors. However I would say where it does really makes the difference is when we talk data privacy laws. If I'm in the USA, my business is registered there, my main audience are US citizen but I host my data on Germany for example, I'm exposing my customer's data to a foreign country where privacy laws might be different. In some instances in those countries the privacy might be better but just for the sake of the example...

    Also for you the server owner, should be really careful about doing such thing. You might be a small business so let say Hetzner ( which is a great provider , just using the for example purposes) do something "illegal" with your server and it's data, you really as a US business being small, might not have the resources internationally to make up a case against Hetzner.

    Plus then you would have to say that the data is stored in Germany in your ToS and let the users know which might raise some eye brows. Majority of them might not care but there are some people aware of issues that such scenario might bring and are concerned with privacy.

  • LeeLee OG
    edited April 4

    Thanks, I think the discussion and purpose are clear without needing the thread needing to descend into privacy, illegal activity, ToS and so on. That is more of an LET than LES requirement.

  • @Lee said:
    Thanks, I think the discussion and purpose are clear without needing the thread needing to descend into privacy, illegal activity, ToS and so on. That is more of an LET than LES requirement.

    SEO wise and assuming you have Cloudflare as front proxy, the domain TLD might be more important for the SEO. Google changes rules every now and then but my guess is that this would matter more than the actual server location in such a scenario.

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  • Mr_TomMr_Tom Hosting ProviderOG

    In my experience unless a worldwide audience is the target then if its a UK site for UK people and hosted in UK/EU then cloudflare just adds another layer to potentially slow stuff down.

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  • LeeLee OG
    edited April 5

    @Mr_Tom said: In my experience unless a worldwide audience is the target then if its a UK site for UK people and hosted in UK/EU then cloudflare just adds another layer to potentially slow stuff down.

    This is an interesting one, I did test this yesterday by removing Cloudflare and reverting back to the provider DNS and from the UK/EU the overall performance based on GTMetrix improved enough to make it worthwhile not using a CDN. As expected not so great for those further afield but they are not the target audience.

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