We often talk about on-page SEO and off-page SEO, but rarely do you hear much spoken about server side SEO. Server side refers to the servers that your website sits on, much of which is controlled by your web hosting company. Shared servers (where you share a server with other web sites) are more affected than those with dedicated servers, however, they too do need an understanding of the basics of server side SEO. If you have a low cost web hosting company, then the issue can be even more important.
Server side SEO looks at issues such as your web sites URL – do you include the www, or have you dropped it, and if so, have you set up your .htaccess file to redirect all traffic to the non www URL? For those on low cost shared servers, you should check regularly to see if you are hosting alongside malware sites, or sites that are consider to lower a neighborhood. Server side SEO can affect page loading times, compatibility issues (particularly with shopping cart software), and even with issues such as importing feeds, or having your feeds exported to other sites.
If you have a dedicated server, then your issues are generally short lived. If you have compatibility issues, then you simply ask your host to upgrade your software. If you’re on a shared server, your host may upgrade the software, however, this will depend on cost and time. Some web hosting companies simply move your website to another sever that has the upgraded software on it.
Understanding the server side aspects of your website is important. What you are looking for is anything that may be considered a negative by a search engine. You should also regularly check your site load speed, an area that could see your site suffer in the search rankings if the load speed is slow. Whilst on-page and off-page SEO are important, so to the SEO related to your websites server.