We’re able to connect to any website online we want in seconds by typing in its domain name into a web browser. The process is straightforward, all possible because of DNS.
Because DNS plays such an important role – namely, connecting a website’s domain name to its IP address – it’s natural to wonder whether it affects your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
SEO refers to the process of improving your website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) when users search for keywords related to your business. Many factors contribute to how optimized a page is for search engines.
This article will explain what DNS is, how it works and whether it impacts SEO.
What is DNS?
DNS, which stands for domain name system, functions like the internet’s phonebook. It is a database that translates domain names to IP addresses. Whenever a user types in a website’s URL on their browser, DNS will look for the matching IP address.
With over 363.5 million registered domain names as of the first quarter of 2021, the DNS directory is vast. To function properly, it is spread out globally and stored on a number of DNS servers. These servers communicate with each other for regular updates, clearing up any redundancies at the same time.
How Does DNS Work?
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The primary function of DNS is to store data and link domain names to IP addresses whenever a request is made. The following aspects contribute to successful DNS operation:
- Record Maintenance – DNS connects domain names with IP addresses and stores the gathered data.
- Distribution – the stored DNS records are distributed on a network of connected DNS servers. Each server handles small portions of the record.
- Domain Namespace Hierarchy – the hierarchical structure of DNS simplifies finding the correct server that hosts the requested DNS records.
Whenever a user types in a domain name on their browser, the computer first checks the cache to see whether the request has been made before. If the computer finds no records, it will forward the query to a local DNS server.
The local DNS server verifies whether it has any records in its database. If it is unsuccessful, the server will need to locate the information of the name server which hosts the records of the domain in question.
The local DNS server does so by separating the domain name into three distinct sections. For example, www.example.com would be divided into:
First, the local DNS server will connect to the root name server to find the server for the TLD, which is the com section in this case.
When it has the IP address of the TLD name server, the local DNS server will request the details of the name server that has the information for the second part of the domain, the example section.
Lastly, the local DNS server will make additional requests to the name servers holding the records for example.com and www.example.com until it has the IP address of the website. The web browser will contact the server hosting the site as soon as the IP address is found.
The operating system will save the information in a DNS cache. This speeds up the process of connecting domain names to IP addresses.
However, the DNS cache can cause issues on rare occasions.
One possible reason is the website having changed servers – it would no longer be located at the cached address. Alternatively, there may be malware trying to redirect the user to malicious websites.
An easy way to solve this problem is to flush DNS cache.
Does DNS Affect SEO?
DNS is a background process, and it can be challenging to determine whether it affects a website’s search engine performance and, consequently, ranking. The sections below will discuss the impact DNS may have on a site’s SEO.
Modifying DNS Records
When a domain name is connected to a corresponding IP address, it passes through an A-type record or an IPv4 address. The A record is responsible for shifting traffic to the correct IP address of a website. When there’s a modification to this record, users may experience performance issues.
Depending on the circumstances, DNS records modifications may affect SEO. When users are sent to a destination that no longer exists, the search engines will display a 404 error.
If there are too many backlinks and 404 errors, search engines might deem a website unreliable, negatively affecting SEO. On the other hand, SEO won’t be affected if the issue is solved promptly and users are redirected to the new destination.
Modifying Name Servers
Domain names are stored on name servers. Local DNS servers connect to them to look up domain name information. It’s possible to change name servers when a website changes its hosting provider or DNS infrastructure.
Such changes may affect SEO. If moving to a new hosting provider or DNS infrastructure causes downtime, the site’s ranking on SERPs may suffer. The longer the downtime, the lower the site may rank.
This is because users and web crawlers can’t access the website during downtime, deeming it ineffective.
DNS Issues During Website Migration
DNS doesn’t affect SEO if a website is moved to a different hosting provider, registrar, if its domain is transferred to a CDN, or its traffic shifted from www to a nude domain.
Instead, it’s the website migration process itself that might impact SEO. Until the migration is finished, It may cause error pages and result in a poor user experience.
Changing the Destination IP Address
When you’re changing the IP address of an existing website, SEO will not be affected. The only exception is when the new IP address points to a known spam server, such as a shared one.
When changing the IP address, make sure it is near the location of the actual website owner and its end-users.
The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a set of specifications that reinforces existing DNS security protocols by adding cryptographic authentication for responses it receives from DNS servers.
The aim is to defend DNS against hackers. It performs a function similar to what HTTPS does for websites. Its SEO impact is similar to that of HTTPS – the page load time is slightly affected because of the extra steps taken to ensure that the site or DNS is secure.
That said, utilizing DNSSEC will positively affect SEO. A more secure website will be deemed superior by search engines because of additional data privacy, resulting in a better user experience.
The primary purpose of DNS is to connect domain names with their corresponding IP addresses. It goes through a series of complicated steps, which only takes a moment of end-users’ time.
Since DNS runs in the background, it can be challenging to determine its effects on SEO. Here’s a recap of the five scenarios I’ve chosen in which DNS may or may not impact SEO:
- Modifying DNS Records – may affect SEO if the problem is ignored for too long.
- Modifying Name Servers – if significant downtime is experienced, it will negatively affect SEO.
- DNS Issues During Website Migration – won’t affect SEO.
- Changing the Destination IP Address – will affect SEO under rare circumstances.
- DNSSEC Implementation – will positively affect SEO.
Now that you know the cases when DNS affects SEO, you can use this information when conducting your SEO efforts. Make sure to optimize every aspect of your website to help you rank at the top.
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