The decision whether to choose a local server or go for an overseas company can be difficult. To make it a little easier, here is a brief run-down on the pros and cons of using a local server.
The main benefits of using a local server include:
- Performance: The Internet ultimately depends on data being sent along wires. Naturally, the shorter the journey your data has to make, the faster your site will load and the better it will perform and let’s face it, speed is of the essence – slow-loading sites are frustrating and typically left very quickly by visitors. Google also looks at site speed as a ranking factor.
- Search Engine Ranking: Your server’s IP address affects your ranking. This is particularly important if you are predominantly targeting a UK audience. With a local server, your site will appear much higher in google.co.uk results than with an overseas server.
- Customer Support: Time differences can make getting 24-hour support difficult. By using a local server, you give yourself the chance to speak to someone during ‘normal’ working hours. If your server is based in a non-English speaking country, language difficulties can also make it difficult to get the answers you seek.
- Data Protection: Using a UK-based server means your Website is subject to the 1998 Data Protection Act, the UK’s main legislation governing personal data protection. Servers in different territories are governed by relevant local laws, and while this can be beneficial in some instances, it could also be a problem.
- Weather: The UK’s weather may not be the best in the world, but compared to other areas, where earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, for instance, are an ever-present risk, it does make for a comparatively safe location for a server’s hardware.
There are, however, also some disadvantages:
- Cost: Overseas servers are often cheaper than UK based ones, mainly due to lower overheads/taxes.
- Worldwide Audiences: Using a UK server means your site will rank lower in the results shown in other countries.
- Laws: Depending on your content, using a UK server could result in legal complications.
This video from Google’s Matt Cutts should help your decision (The video is aged somewhat, but we still believe the message is very current).
And this set of data from BuiltVisible offers pretty conclusive evidence on the benefits of using a local, UK based server for your UK targeted website.
Pros and Cons of Using a Local Server
Weighing up these pros and cons makes it clear that using a locally based server a wise choice – unless you intend to target an overseas audience or hope to evade particular local laws. Setting up correct country specific targeting in Webmaster Tools (Search Console) is an absolute must too, but we feel the first two ‘pro’s’ in the list above are enough to warrant using a local hosting service.