You should pick a location where most of your clients will be at. If you are going to look and build up a client base out of the USA you should get the server in the middle of the US. If your going to uk clients go for a server around the east coast. It all depends on where your clients will be located at so that then they can get fast speeds.
Choosing the location is mostly about improving performance for your customers, not for the benefit of the owner/webmaster. If all your visitors/customers will be US based, then IMHO you can host anywhere in the US, the latency shouldn't be a noticeable problem. That way you can focus on just finding a high quality provider.
If a good chunk of your visitors are say European, then it might be a good idea to go east coast.
I don't think it's that important, but I agree that if you can, pick the server closest to where most of your customers are. More important though, it that if one of the servers is less busy or faster, then go with it, though I'm not sure how you would find this out. Also, I think google gives a very, very small bump to "local" servers, so this is another small reason to pick a server close to the physical area you are targeting.
If your audience is from the US then I would go with the Central location. While it does not make a huge difference, it will split up the distance to east and west cost, thus leading to lower pings in both directions.
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Location isn't too important if it's just US > US traffic really. I agree with everyone saying Central is always a good location. Texas, Chicago, etc. Though really, I don't see a huge concern unless you are receiving large amounts of traffic. In which case and it's very vital, use a CDN. Amazon S3 is very very affordable and will help optimize your static files.
Geography isn't anywhere near as important as the speed of the network, the quality of the hardware (servers, routers, switches), and the on-site optimization of code and back-end. I have several servers in Europe, and those can easily out-speed many of the shoddy VPS and shared accounts found in North America, when accessed from within North America.
"Ping speeds" tend to be more theoretical than anything else.
It's the "megapixels" of the hosting world. By itself, it means squat.
Originally Posted by afam4eva
It also helps in SEO.
This doesn't even make sense.
Lately it seems fashionable to think everything affects SEO. It doesn't.
Originally Posted by lasko
Hi everyone...I am signing up for my new hosting account and they ask what server location I would like. They offer an east coast location, central location, and west coast.
I'n not sure which to pick whats typically the difference? Does it have to do with my location or where mu customers may be. This would be for a web store.
To answer the OP....
I'd see which datacenters are in use, and then see who's providing the bandwidth in and out.
Pick based off that, not simply off a mailing address.