The true weak spot of hosting companies is the lack of referrals from quality websites, which often translates into a low SEO-value. For green Hosters however, there might be more good news on the horizon.
The hosting market is very crowded, with many companies fighting for attention from potential customers with something that is – let’s face it – more or less a generic product. This means companies have to turn to advertising, sponsoring, or to that most dangerous of strategies: comparison sites, where one bad day in your data-center can ruin your ranking for years to come.
Recently I stumbled upon the true weak spot of hosting companies: the lack of referrals from quality websites. You can have a million customers, but if no one mentions you on those million websites, in SEO-terms you could still be losing from your neighbor who is hosting dinner-parties.
In the hosting-sector, this leads to a kind of black hole around hosters. Try for instance a Google-search for ‘hosted by One.com‘, ‘websites hosted by Strato’, or for ‘Dreamhost.com‘. All three companies have over a million hosted domains, but hardly any actual customer recommendations for their hosting services
What grabbed my attention, was the fact that The Green Web Foundation’s http://www.thegreenwebfoundation.org website link appears on the first or second page, while we are relatively still a very small project with around 2000 visitors per month. There are countless referrals from parked sites to large hosters, but since these referring sites have no content and no visitors, their SEO-value is close to zero.
There is another problem: even if you are mentioned and linked to as a supplier from normal functioning sites, without some relevant content match between that site and the hosting business, the value of the backlink is probably limited. Relevance matters, so if you are a green host, a free listing in The Green Web Foundation’s online directory will be worth its weight to the search engines, so it’s a good link to have.
While it is true that there is in general no content match between, for instance Beverly Hills Church Pre-school and Dreamhost.com, this all changes when the pre-school site includes a page on their website about their sustainability efforts. As their choice to host withDreamhost.com was part of their sustainability-policy, and their policy states that clearly, adding a Green Host Dreamhost badge backlinked to Dreamhost’s sustainability-section will give them both extra points with the search engines.
In SEO-terms, green hosting and sustainability are on-topic backlinks, highlighting the sustainability endeavors of both companies, and making it much easier for the hosting company to stand out – without paying for it by Adwords, sponsorship or paid links.