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I understand that the geolocation of a server impacts search engine rankings. But does server time affect SEO in any manner? For example, assume that my server is located in the US. If I set the timezone to a different country for administrative purposes (to help an offshore team working from that country) does it affect rankings in the US?

  • In my thought, google ranking algorithm is based upon the different 200 elements. Except server timezone, there are many ranking elements, so you don't worry about server timezone. – seo pine Aug 31 at 20:50
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    How does a search engine know what time/timezone a server is set to? In what way do you think "the geolocation of a server impacts search engine rankings"? – MrWhite Sep 1 at 1:00
  • My doubt is that server time could be explicitly or implicitly found in some response header (especially those related to date/time). If so, search bots can read them and assign some importance? Please correct me if I am wrong. Regarding geolocation, provided there is no full website caching (caching such as in Cloudflare/CloudFront), the performance will be at its best around the location of the server. (For example, a US server could serve pages faster in the US compared to say Australia.) – Kannan Sep 1 at 2:02
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    That's the thing, I don't think it's possible for a "search bot" to (reliably) determine the server time/timezone. All HTTP date-times are GMT, regardless of server time. The bot only sees the response from the website in front of the server - which is free to set the time/timezone to anything. – MrWhite Sep 2 at 9:00
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Unless your pages use PHP or another server side language to write the date into them, Google should have no idea what time zone your server is set to.

HTTP headers do have the date and time, but they should be in GMT, not in the server's local time zone. The syntax for the Date header is: Date: <day-name>, <day> <month> <year> <hour>:<minute>:<second> GMT. Other headers with the date such as Last-Modified are specified the same way.

Exclusively using GMT for HTTP headers is implemented correctly on all webservers I've tested. You can see it on this site:

$ curl -s --head https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/ | grep date
date: Wed, 02 Sep 2020 13:11:34 GMT

You don't need to worry about Google using the server time zone because it shouldn't have access to it for your site or most sites.

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Does server timezone affect SEO?

No.

I understand that the geolocation of a server impacts search engine rankings.

Only indirectly. Major search engines don't care where the files are coming from.

If I set the timezone to a different country for administrative purposes (to help an offshore team working from that country) does it affect rankings in the US?

I have seen zero evidence to suggest it would. It's far too easy to exploit.

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    Larger sites are typically hosted/distributed all over the world and spread out across multiple servers in many cases. The location where the files actually "reside" is entirely irrelevant to SEO and can't reliably be derived by the timezone that the server's clock is set to. – Greg Nickoloff Sep 2 at 16:24

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