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Q. You offer hosting in New Zealand, Australia, The United Kingdom, and The United States. Which is Best?

A. It depends...

Obviously the perception of what is "local" and what is "overseas" will depend on where you are from.

This also depends on where your perceived market is.

For example, for a New Zealand company, marketing exclusively into the UK, UK hosting would be appropriate as 'local', whereas NZ hosting would be perceived as 'overseas' hosting to the company's client base.

At Web Wide Hosting we are endeavouring to provide 'local' hosting to as larger population base as possible. We currently provide hosting in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA.

So if you, or your market, in is any of these countries, with Web Wide Hosting you have the choice of 'local' or 'overseas' hosting plans.

As we will discuss further in this article, there are some advantages to hosting your web site local to where your perceived market is.

However, we feel that your choice of location for your web site is secondary to ensuring that you have available the features and services that you need to run your site successfully.

For instance, there is little point in having local hosting, if that local hosting doesn't provided you with the services that you need to run your site successfully.

So look at the features and services that you require first, and then see if those features are available in a 'local' service.

While we are comparing 'local' and 'overseas' hosting, we'd like to take a moment to dispel a common myth perpetuated by some hosting providers.

That being that "Overseas hosted sites will always be much slower than locally hosted sites.".

Back in the 'old days' this assertion was generally true. International links were slow, so having your web site hosted outside of your home country could make your site noticeably slower than 'locally' hosted sites.

Nowadays the links between countries are much faster. Speed differences due to network latency are are now not much more than one or two hundred milliseconds. This is much less than the user's ability to detect the difference.

What is more important today is the power of the web server. As an example,. for New Zealand browsers, a powerful web server based in say the UK, can still deliver pages faster than a slower server based here in New Zealand.

So, getting back to our original statement, there are some reasons for wanting to host 'locally'.

One is personal preference - which is of course a very valid reason, and also the reason that we provide "local' hosting in four different countries.

The second is the perceived proximity to your target market.

It's 'nice' for UK customers to visit a site that has a .co.uk domains, and is physically located in the UK. Likewise sites with a US or International reach "feel more at home" when they are hosting in the USA, as do Australian sites hosted in Australia, and New Zealand sites hosted in New Zealand.

The third reason is to do with search engine rankings. Although as we will show, this may not be as big a factor as you might be lead to believe.

Search engines 'weight' their results to some extent based on where a site is actually homed.

If for instance you are selling into the New Zealand market, Google will give you a slightly better search engine rank if your site is actually hosted in New Zealand. A further 'positive weighting' is also given if you are hosting on a .nz domain as well.

However, in reality, this advantage only really becomes an advantage, if you are already ranking in the first few pages of a Google search.

Few people go past the first few pages when looking at search results. So increasing your Google position from 457,193 to 389,246 just because you have homed your site locally, is great, but of very little practical value.

At the end of the day, content and appropriateness are still "King" when it comes to dominating search engine position.

Here's an experiment to demonstrate.

Try a search on "Microhelis New Zealand' in Google.

OK this search has "New Zealand" in the search criteria, so obviously sites that are 'homed in New Zealand" are going to dominate the results yes?

Well you would think so, but in this case you'd be completely wrong!

Aside of about five entries, the entire first two pages of results are dominated by the site "Microhelis New Zealand", other sites that are referencing the "Microhelis New Zealand" site, and "Microhelis New Zealand" sub-sites.

So what is so unusual about that?

Well, it just so happens that "Microhelis New Zealand" is homed on a .com domain on a US server. How do we know this? We host it :).

And there's also a bitter irony in these results. Two of the 'other' links that appear on the first page are from a "New Zealand Homed" site about Microhelis. But they only get a listing in these results because the pages in question refer to the US homed site!

So in conclusion, we would suggest the following approach to 'local' hosting.

Work out what features and services you need.

Work out what you budget is.

Once you have both of these details locked down, then look to see if there is a local hosting solution available that provides the features and services that you need, at a price that you are prepared to pay.

If there is, the great! You have attained "Web Hosting Nirvana" and you are on your way.

If there isn't a local solution, then don't worry too much.

Better a web site that is hosted overseas, does what you want, and is affordable, than a locally hosted site that doesn't do what you want and costs more than you really want to pay.
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