Semalt: Is Your IP Address A Google Ranking Factor?
Age-old stories and advice from SEO veterans suggest that your IP address might be considered as a ranking factor. But is this true?
In this article, we hope to answer that question and give you a clear answer on what you should do. There is plenty of information on the web that suggests that Google's search algorithms factor in the IP addresses when ranking links on SERP. And this theory makes sense specifically because servers can be blacklisted.
A user might think that it wouldn't be much help if Google blacklisted a server because SEO black hats could move their server. Factors like this and other factors we will be mentioned in this article are why SEO pros are so confused when it comes to answering these questions.
Let's think of it as an argument, a section to support the claim, and another that goes against it. At the end of the day, we will see which one is true.
What are IP Addresses
An IP (internet protocol) address is a string of numbers that are separated by dots after every 1 to 3 digits. These protocol numbers identify a device connected to the internet or another computer network. Your IP address is simply a pass that enables one computer device to communicate with each other via the internet regardless of their physical location.
Each of these IP addresses can fall anywhere between 0 to 255. So an IP address could look like 22.214.171.124. In a world so dependent on internet connectivity, IP addresses have become very important. We practically depend on them to identify a host and the location of their server. Without this information, we wouldn't be able to send or receive information from them. The internet itself wouldn't exist because devices wouldn't know where to send your requests to or get feedback from. It'll be like folding a white envelope in your mailbox with no letters in it and no receiving address.
Note: websites also have IP addresses that have been assigned to them by the server hosting the site. A website can have a dedicated IP address, or it can share its IP address with other sites on that server.
What is The SEO Impact of an IP Address?
In reality, your IP address has little to no impact on your SEO. For a long time, we've had this debate on whether or not IP addresses should be considered a ranking factor. While we will answer this question later on in this article, it is safe to say that sharing an IP with another less reputable site wouldn't damage your prospects and ability to rank high.
However, to be on the safer side, we advise that users get a dedicated IP Address for their site. Owing one can indirectly affect things that will impact your SEO.
Advantages of a dedicated IP
- Owning an IP address makes it easier to set up a private SSL certificate, and google prefers sites with SSL certificates. In fact, it wasn't until 2007 that sites on shared IP Addresses could generate an SSL certificate.
- A dedicated IP address provides better performance. Having an IP address to only your website helps your website load faster than websites with a shared IP. As you well know, page speed is a ranking factor, and users want to get to the content of your website faster, so you also enjoy better user satisfaction.
- Having a local server can reduce the load time of your pages. With a server close by, your SEO improves as users do not need to wait for too long before your website responds to their inputs.
- You enjoy better services even when dealing with high traffic. Sharing an IP could cause the server to crash when the traffic is too high. With a dedicated server, you are more equipped to handle large volumes of traffic and avoid the hug of death.
IP Addresses Are A Ranking Factor
Things get a bit clouded when this topic is discussed in the SEO community. It is also little to no information that guides you on who or what to believe. The concept of IP addresses affecting ranking positions began with the term bad neighborhoods.
This concept bases itself on the idea that if you're on shared hosting, your IP address is also shared with the other sites on the same server. Essentially, this means the number of other websites on that server is who we call your neighbors. There could be 5, 20, 100, or more than a thousand other websites sharing one server.
If all your neighbors are in the gambling industry, will that impact your ranking? Wouldn't it be better to get a dedicated IP address or opt for the cloud hosting option?
Let's explore the evidence to develop answers to these questions.
IP Addresses Aren't An SEO Ranking Factor
Google's Matt Cutts gave an answer to whether or not IP addresses were a ranking factor back in 2003. He said it shouldn't be something SEO experts should spend time debating. Later in 2011, Kaspar Szymanski, Google's Search Quality Strategist, made a tweet that sparked up confusion in the SEO community. As a result, Google published a blog post discussing how SEO pros can protect their users from any malware hosted on bulk subdomain services. That same year, Google banned the subdomains .co and .cc because the host of these subdomains had a number of spammy sites registered under them.
It wasn't until 2018, before this matter was laid to bed, when John Mueller was asked a question about IP addresses on Twitter. In his response, Mueller clearly said Nope.
With all that has led us to this point, we believe that IP addresses were a ranking factor in the past, but not in recent years.
Does the Server Location impact SEO?
This is another question that usually follows the question of IP addresses. Let's say you live in the US and have your site hosted there, but you relocate your server to Brazil. Will this change impact your SEO?
Muller has also answered this question. He explains that this change usually wouldn't affect your SEO. Google already gets enough geotargeting information from the TLD & geotargeting settings in Search Console.
Do IP Addresses Affect Your Link Building Chances?
Many SEO experts believe that their server location and different C-Class IP addresses can influence their ranking efforts. To be honest, if your IP address has that much impact on your link-building strategy, it's a sign you are not going about your link-building strategy the right way.
John Mueller clarifies this in a simple Google hangout where the answer to this question was No.
Your IP address has so little effect on your SEO; we consider it ineffective. If you've been worried about what sharing your IP could do to your site, you now know that your site isn't going to pay the price for your neighbors' mistakes. And while this is a good thing, we must caution you against sharing an IP. There are too many drawbacks, and you miss out on all the good things that come with a dedicated IP.
If you need to learn more about the subject of SEO and website promotion, we invite you to visit our Semalt blog.