Let’s say you’re trying to choose between two different web hosts.
The first is almost prohibitively expensive, but it’s situated very close to your target audience. Right on their doorstep, essentially. The other, while more in your price range, is also on the other side of the country from you.
These characteristics aside, neither of your hosts differ from one another in any meaningful way.
Naturally, you’ll want to go with the former of the two, right? After all, it might be a lot more expensive. But you’ve heard over and over again that where search engine optimization is concerned, location is everything.
That advice doesn’t actually apply here. Not for the reasons you might expect, anyway. While it is extremely important to optimize your business’s website so it targets your audience, the only significant impact your web host’s location has on SEO is tied to page speed.
Note that I said significant. Google has, on several occasions, gone on record mentioning that a web server’s IP address has at least some impact on ranking. In that same statement, however, it also explained that, since many websites rely on a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or tend to be hosted out-of-country due to another region having better infrastructure.
As such, results aren’t based on location alone.
Speed is far more important, anyway. It’s long been known that a website’s performance has a marked impact on how well it ranks. And it goes without saying that a host that’s closer to your target audience will give you better load times than one that’s far away.
CDNs can only go so far, after all.
Therefore it’s far more important that you optimize for local search. Fill out your Google My Business Page, set your website’s location in the Google Search Console, and include comprehensive contact information on every page of your site. Note that these steps only matter if your target users are in a specific country or region.
If your audience consists of people from all over the world, your server’s IP address matters significantly less. At that point, it all comes down to quality. A good user experience and fast load times will have a greater impact on SEO than a simple IP address ever could.