Good web hosting is one of the many important ranking factors for SEO and generally speaking, the free kind is usually the worst, so it can be bad for rankings.
The most important thing to note about this topic is that if you want to get better SEO results, one of the core things your site needs is to load up quickly when Google crawls it and/or when someone visits it from a computer or phone. That requires at least decent hosting.
If you currently own a site and want to know if your current plan is working well for you in regards to loading speed, head over to Google’s speed test site and see what score it gives you.
Anything green is fine, anything yellow requires improvement and anything red definitely means you need improvement or should change and/or upgrade your plan or service ASAP.
Naturally, the slower it loads, the worse it is. And usually the truly free places are the ones which have a lot of people trying to make tons of sites on it, often overloading the servers and possibly breaking them down.
This usually leads to situations of down times happening more frequently and/or in most cases, slower loading times, all of which have a negative affect on SEO. There’s just less reliability with those places.
Now this doesn’t mean that ALL free web hosting services are slow or bad in quality, but you have to understand that those places and services, generally do not carry the highest level of value.
Some exceptions exist:
The only real exceptions you have to this general rule are sub domain providers where you can get free domains WITH hosting included and those generally have a decent reputation. However, because they are sub domains, you don’t fully own it and that carries it’s own risk.
Plus places that allow you to make sub domains for no cost also have a monetary incentive to upgrade you to a better plan so they can make up the costs of offering those free services.
And that’s actually not a bad thing, but you have to understand that hosting page/s, require server/s, resources, time and more, and this costs money, so the costs have to be made somehow.
Places like WordPress and WiX are actually decent places to find free plans, but you will probably get better results if you pay a little bit for places like NameCheap.com, Hostgator.com and Wealthy Affiliate as those 3 examples, generally offer great plans for low costs and provide pretty decent services.
I personally use Wealthy Affiliate, as it actually carries free web hosting for many pages. However, I pay $49 for their monthly membership as they provide more than just that service, and that cost helps cover that added service. That indirect payment I make covers good quality hosting (learn more here).
Should I get free or paid hosting? 4 things to consider:
The following 5 things are circumstances you may currently find yourself in with regards to your page, and depending on the situation, I will provide a clear answer on which way to go:
1) I am just starting out with a page. I have no big intentions with it.
In that case, go with WordPress and set up a free blog there. If you have no major intentions with your page and don’t even care about SEO, this is where I would start.
2) I have serious intentions to make my page succeed with SEO.
I would definitely advise getting a paid plan in this case, as well as a domain you pay for. In this case, I’d probably advise you go with Wealthy Affiliate since they’ll give you everything here: SEO training, a cheap domain and free hosting (which is actually high quality because the membership has a monthly cost).
3) I plan to make a small page and want it do well in SEO.
I’d actually also go with Wealthy Affiliate here, since they actually provide a free (starter) service in addition to their paid one, but the first, starter option lets you have a sub domain that is hosted and it’s of pretty decent quality since it doesn’t have as many people using it as other big name places that can overload it. More on the starter plan here.
4) I plan to make a very big page.
In that case, you absolutely need to go with a paid option. Generally people who overload their sites with images, graphics, videos, content and basically anything that increase it’s size in memory, means it will put more pressure on the server/s to load it up, so generally speaking, a paid plan will ensure you get a higher quality service that helps all of that load fast.
I would still recommend Wealthy Affiliate (the paid upgrade) in this case if you can’t really afford a $50-$100 a month hosting plan, but if you can, go with the more expensive ones.
3 takeaways from the above scenarios:
If you have still have any reservations about the tips above and don’t know what to pick, here’s my general guidance:
1) If there’s no serious intent with the page you’re going to make, perhaps you’re just messing around with the idea, go with Wealthy Affiliate’s starter plan, you’ll get a great service and the option to upgrade and/or make something of that page later on (such as SEO) will be open.
2) If you do not see yourself doing SEO and just want to blog for fun, set up a blogger or WordPress page and just use that service.
3) If you have serious intent for SEO, making a big page, either go with Wealthy Affiliate’s premium service, get training to make it all succeed, OR if you already know what you’re doing and are going to make a truly huge, hard to load site, get expensive hosting to make sure it doesn’t let you down. This service is pretty good.
Even though I’ve been doing SEO for a long time, no matter how big my sites have gotten, I have personally never really had a need to go for the most expensive, highest quality hosting plans. I’m personally very happy with Wealthy Affiliate’s premium option and I am certain that or it’s starter plan will be perfect for you in 99% of cases.
But again, if there’s ANY ounce of intent from your end to make your site do well in search engines, do not cheapen or worsen it’s chances of doing so on completely free services.
Spend a little and get that quality service because a good plan in this regard absolutely helps make sure the page loads up quickly, often and doesn’t give you a headache and that is taken seriously by search engines too.