What is an IP Address?
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a string of numbers (between 1 and 3 digits separated by dots) that identifies a device connected to the Internet or another computer network. IP addresses are essentially the code that allows all devices (computers, phones, servers, etc.) to 'talk' to each other via the internet no matter their location.
Each of the numbers can range from 0 to 255, so an IP address might look like this:
IP addresses are one of the most important things in technology today.
Since they identify the host as well as the location of a server, we wouldn’t be able to send or receive information online without them. A system can’t send or receive something if they don’t know where to send it or where it’s from — it would be like dropping a blank envelope in a mailbox.
We simply would not be able to use the internet.
Website IP addresses
Websites also have IP addresses, assigned by the servers that host them. A website can have a dedicated IP address, or it can share an IP address with other sites on its server.
A Brief History of IP Addresses
Any computer in a network can be identified by this unique code. Its initial version was the Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4). This protocol used a 32-bit address to define an IP address. A newer version called the Internet Protocol Version 6 was developed in 1995 and continues to be modified.
This protocol uses a 128-bit address to define an IP address. The final update of this protocol was published in 2017 and has been used ever since.
What is the SEO Impact of Your Site’s IP Address?
Your website’s IP address has little to no direct impact on your SEO.
For a long time, there was the belief that sharing an IP address with less-than-reputable websites could cause Google to penalize your site. After all, if a server is 99% porn, black hatters and scammers, it would just be easier to blacklist the whole server and just shrug at the 1% of innocent sites. There are always more websites.
Of course, this would never really work. IP addresses are easy to change and scammers would just move if their server got blacklisted by Google. So it would be a constant game of whack-a-mole. Google has better things to do with its time.
Googlers stated as much back in 2003. Here’s a video from Matt Cutts in 2010 reiterating this point:
I understand, and Google understands, that shared web hosting happens, you can’t really control or help who else is on that IP address or Class C subnet. The other thing is that if you were to take action just on that Class C subnet or IP address, the spammers are pretty savvy and the spammers would often migrate and go to a new IP address. So typically it’s not the most scalable way to tackle things.
However, owning a dedicated IP address can indirectly affect things that do impact SEO.
SEO benefits of dedicated IP addresses
Owning an IP address makes it much easier to set up a private SSL certificate and, as we all know, Google prefers websites with SSL certificates. In fact, until 2007, websites using shared IP addresses couldn’t even get SSL certificates.
A dedicated IP address can also provide for better performance. Dedicated IP addresses are faster to load than shared IP addresses. This results in users (and Google) arriving on a website faster. Having a local server can also help your SEO as physical distance can impact website load time.
Shared IP address websites may crash is the traffic is too high (the so-called slashdot effect or "hug of death").
Downsides of shared IP Issues
Most hosting provider offers "web hosting", “WordPress hosting” and “dedicated hosting”. When choosing a hosting plan, you’ll want to know the amount of shared hosting one IP has.
A dedicated IP hosting has only one site, while web hosting can be 10-80% shared, which makes web hosting plans more affordable. Large websites and ecommerce sites often use dedicated IP since these large websites need the bandwidth to handle the high number of visitors.
Plus, ecommerce sites must use SSL.
Will changing from a shared to a dedicated IP address impact SEO?
Choose the best IP Address for your Website
At the end of the day, your website’s IP address, whether dedicated or shared, isn’t going to make or break your SEO efforts. Using a dedicated IP address is probably recommended since it offers performance and security benefits, but you’re better off choosing the best hosting option for your business and focusing your attention on building and implementing an effective SEO strategy.