The short answer, Yes.
I like to think of Google as a person you need to make friends with. The better your relationship, the more likely they are to recommend (rank) you to its other friends (search keyword terms).
Hosting comes into play for a few factors, such as website load speed, website uptime/downtime, and the hosting location. Let's go through each of these in detail.
Think of this as how fast you get served at a bar or restaurant. The quicker the better, right? Right.
Your hosts need to be running the quickest servers they can so that when people want your website to load, the servers can handle it. If it's just one person every 5 minutes landing on your website, then most hosts will handle this no problem. When you have a site like Facebook that has 2 billion active users per month (224,014 loads every 5 minutes) you'll be needing some epic hosting magic to handle it. Imagine waiting to get served at that bar!
Now, website load speeds aren't just the responsibility of the host. Going back to the restaurant analogy, a portion of chips is going to arrive a lot faster than a massive Sunday roast.
This in website terms means how quick and light weight the website is. Having massive images, complex code and lots of other stuff that isn't essential means that the servers are having to work extra hard to get everything ready before it can load the web page.
Uptime / Downtime
Basically, when is it open? How annoying is it when you get all excited about a meal, rock up and the place is shut! Google hates this too.
A good hosting company will always have at least 2 mirrored servers running side by side. This means that if one does start having issues, needs to be updated, have a little nap, then that's all fine as the other one can handle the work.
This is a massive factor in keeping Google happy. Google loves opening hours of YES.
Cloud hosting has had a big impact on being able to improve uptime to 100% due to the fact that the website can be stored over multiple locations. Which leads me too...
Everyone loves their favorite bar or restaurant to be their local.
Same with websites. If you search for 'local hosting company', you'll be wanting the one located closest to you.
Google will rank the closest results (a little, as there are still a lot of other factors involved) higher depending on its location to the person searching. It does this through IP addresses.
Having local servers are always going to boost your rankings for people searching your service locally, but what if you are a global company? This is where Cloud Hosting comes in. Instead of a website being hosted on one physical server, the website hosting is delivered on an extensive network of servers. Basically, it's all over the place, and the server closest to you (the searcher) will be doing the work of getting the site files and showing you the website.
Did I mention Security?
When you go out for a drink or food, you want to feel safe.
This is understandable. Hosting providers need to have super secure servers to stop from hackers. They will take care of all that themselves so it's not anything you as website owner needs to worry about, but as an added bonus (Google loves these) you should look at adding an SSL certificate to your website. This makes the http:// at the front of your site, https://. This has become standard if you are running an e-commerce website.
That generally covers the main points for selecting a hosting provider. It also helps if you get on with the staff that work there, as I do with Qbit.
About the author.
Jon specialises in building websites for trades and services. Having a website in these industries can have a massive impact on your business.
“I have worked for all types of businesses, but have always had a passion for helping out the people that are brave enough to go it alone and start a business”
Jon - Tech Whisperer