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Does Your Boston-Based Company Need Servers in Massachusetts for Local SEO?

Posted by QuoteColo on June 06, 2016 - Updated on June 18, 2016

Picture4Local SEO has become absolutely critical for businesses operating brick and mortar stores. Google loves local SEO, and for businesses attempting to build their success within a specific geographic area, there are quite a few steps that need to be taken to ensure that you rank correctly for geo-specific search terms. Chances are good that you’ve heard of the importance of NAP (or, name, address and phone number), as well as ensuring that your NAP is consistent across all listings online. However, what about where your company’s server is located? Does that play a role in local SEO success? Does a Boston-based business need a server located in Massachusetts to ensure that they rank in local search results?

The Question of Local-Enough Servers

When it comes to server location, the experts agree to disagree. There’s actually quite a bit of argument in the colocation and hosting industry over this. Google does say that server location has some impact, but the search engine giant doesn’t say how much, and there are many other factors that have a much, much greater impact on your visibility in local SERPs than where your server might be located. With that being said, ensuring that your server is located within your country (a US business with a US-based server) is more important than ensuring that your server is based within your specific state, county or even city.

According to John Mueller of Google, “For search, specifically for geotargeting, the server’s location plays a very small role, in many cases, it’s irrelevant. If you use a ccTLD or a gTLD together with Webmaster Tools, then we’ll mainly use the goetargeting from there, regardless of where your server is located. You definitely don’t need to host your website in any specific geographic location – use what works best for you and give us the information via ccTLD or Webmaster Tools.”

So, that begs the question of what information is needed, and what steps are required for businesses hoping to capitalize on local search trends.

Your Domain

If you’re located outside the US, then it’s more important that your domain reflect your company’s nation of origin. For instance, a company located in London with a .com domain may rank lower than another one in the same city with a address. The .us extension doesn’t seem to have the same type of impact on local search, though.

Website Language

Another factor in local search is the language used on your website, specifically city, state and nation names, along with things like specific spellings (US English or UK English, for instance). It’s important to ensure that the language in your website shows what’s called a “country bias”. For non-English speaking countries, that includes having a version of your website (perhaps the primary version, since you’re after local search) in your native language.


One of the most crucial factors in local search is ensuring that your NAP is accurate and mentioned on your website. Your business name needs to be used throughout your content, as well as on your contact page. You also need to include your business’ address and phone number on your website. However, you must go beyond your own website. Register with Google, Yahoo and Bing business listings and make sure that your NAP is accurate. Do your due diligence and verify that anywhere else your business’ information appears online, it is accurate and consistent. This can be difficult, particularly if your business has recently moved. In this instance, you need to spend the time necessary to have that old information replaced with the correct details. Google (and other search engines) see conflicting NAP information as a red flag, and will reduce or even remove you from the search results.

Pay Attention to Review Sites

You need to ensure that your information is accurate on business listings, but don’t neglect sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor or Angie’s List. If your location data is incorrectly provided in a review, it can be a red flag for search engines. While chances are good that there’s nothing you can do about individual reviews, you can correct the information on your business’ listing with the review site itself.

Target the Right Keywords

Just as important as your NAP and far more important than the location of your company’s server are the keywords that you target. These should be as local as possible to match your business’ focus. For instance, if you serve clients and customers throughout Massachusetts, and don’t focus solely on Boston, then wider-ranging, but MA-specific keywords should be used. If you focus on the city itself, then Boston should be one of your most important keywords. With that being said, Google is now focusing on a neighborhood level (through the Pigeon update). What’s that mean? Simply put, it means that the search engine giant has now connected Google Maps with search, and you can (and should) be focusing on neighborhood-specific keywords to truly boost hyperlocal search results. For instance, you might be located in Allston or Back Bay – those names should be peppered throughout your content, rather than relying on the more generic Boston.

It’s Not Fast

While changing to a ccTLD can have an almost immediate effect on local SEO for businesses with generic .com or .net domains, the process of local optimization takes time and a great deal of effort. You need to first ensure that your NAP information is accurate on your site and in business directories, and then ensure consistency across the web. Then, you need to focus on creating local-specific content for your site, as well as through blog posts, guest blogs, your social media accounts and more. The more localized your content is, the better your performance in the SERPs will be.

In the end, server location matters very little, if at all. It’s really more about good SEO practices and knowing the right keywords to focus on in your efforts.

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