If you say SEO and Dedicated IP one more time…

Stop emailing me and asking me for a Dedicated IP address because you read that this utterly fantabuolous guru swears that you can pull one over on Google and make them think you have your own server, it will make your site faster, grant you first choice in resources, and in general just immediately rocket you to PR 10.

After I stop laughing, I will tell you no.

Every domain name that has a web site on it or a computer or network at the end of it has an IP address assigned to it. An IP address is the “real” address of the website or server or computer or network. Domain names came along because it wasn’t exactly fun to try and remember long IP numbers like 123.456.789.101. Most of the time now in shared hosting when there are a bunch of sites sharing one server those same sites will share one single IP address.ip image

There’s a reason that’s more popular, and it’s not “laziness” or “ease” on the part of the hosting companies. IP4 addresses are running out, fast. (See IPv4 Address Exhaustion on Wikipedia for more info on it). The American Registry for Internet Numbers is in charge of doling out those precious IP addresses, and now, they make you justify exactly why you need them.

As SEO (Search Engine Optimization, or better known as “trying to pull one over on Google so Google will like you better”) has grown, there are persistent myths flying around that paying for a Dedicated IP on a shared server will somehow get you better rankings on the search engines. A whole host of completely bogus myths have popped up surrounding the mythical dedicated IP address, and while I can’t say for sure whether Google really cares whether you’re on a shared IP or a Dedicated one since what they use for PR rankings is proprietary and they’re pretty tight-lipped about it, I can tell you that some of the justification and reasoning being thrown around by the “experts” who apparently haven’t got a clue about how a web server functions is just bunk.

This article written in 2007 touches on a lot of the more common myths that are still flying around, and so we’re going to use it as a springboard to tell you why these suppositions are horse pucky.

One of the reasons using a dedicated IP can have a positive influence on rankings is because the engines take into consideration how fast your site loads in comparison to other sites. If you’re sharing your IP with 500 other Web sites, the server, like all good customer services departments, will deliver the files in the order they received them. If there are 10 people ahead of your visitors in line, they’re going to have to wait, resulting in a slower page load times and frustrated users.

If there are ten people hitting the server waiting in line to use Apache to view a web site, they’re going to be in line whether you have a dedicated IP or a shared IP. A dedicated IP doesn’t get you your own Apache server or anything like your own dedicated server. It just gets you your own special number on the same server. You still have to wait in line for services that are shared just like everyone else. The server does not load pages based on whether you paid extra to have your own super special IP address; the idea that it does is a myth that seemingly won’t die.

There’s only one way your own dedicated IP address will get your site priority service on the machine – if your IP address sends people to your own machine where you are the only one on it.

Sharing an IP address also doesn’t allow you to control who your neighbors are. If you’re sitting on the same IP as a gambling site, a porn ring, a Viagra dealer, and a priest, and one of those addresses gets banned by the search engines, you’re banned too. Search engine’s don’t just ban domains, they ban whole IP ranges.

Google removes sites themselves, not IP ranges. The only place that this actually comes into play is with RBLs (Realtime Blackhole Lists) and having a Dedicated IP doesn’t get you out of those consequences, either, since your mail comes off the server’s IP regardless of whether you have your own Dedicated IP or not. The way you avoid this is by not hosting with a host that would host the gambling site, porn ring, and Viagra dealer in the first place – or a host that’s vigilant in monitoring and responding to issues on the server.

Another issue to note is that the slower your server, the fewer pages the spiders will be able to index on each visit (they don’t want to crash it). Fewer pages indexed equal fewer pages in the SERP, which decreases your ability to properly theme your site, which in turn will hurt your rankings. I think the connection is pretty clear.

A Dedicated IP will not speed up the server. If it would, we’d bend ourselves over backwards working to get all of you Dedicated Ips so the server would magically hum and purr, rather than, oh, buying really good hardware and tweaking configurations all the time. A Dedicated IP does not equal a Dedicated server, and a Dedicated IP on a shared hosting server is not the web hosting world’s equivalent of a DisneyWorld FastPass.

If you are on shared hosting, you still have to share. Period. If your server is so poor that crawling will slow down or crash the server, that will happen whether you have a Dedicated IP or a shared IP.

If you find out you’re not on a dedicated IP, we recommend calling your hosting company and asking them to switch you over. There may be a small fee, but it’s nominal and is worth the charge.

Any web hosting company worth their salt will not provide an IP to you simply because you’ve bought into the myth that somehow Google will find your content far more dazzling simply because you finagled your way into a Dedicated IP. “SEO” is not a justification to ARIN to grant you a Dedicated IP, and considering the run on IP addresses for legitimate purposes and not because they’re seen as fairy dust that will somehow make your site faster, you won’t get one just because you want one.

The best way to get good ranking with Google is the same as it’s always been – create a good site. Have and offer something people want. Create original content that people want to read. Do it the old fashioned way – tweak your meta-tags, submit your URL, and work at it.

The best way to get your PR up is still the hardest – good, old-fashioned work.


Update after publication:

I’d like to thank an un-named source at The Google itself that pointed out that Google has, in fact, openly dispelled this myth publicly back in 2002 in a Slashdot Interview with Google Director of Technology Craig Silverstein.

5) Google and IP address.
by Anonymous Coward

Why in this day and age does google continue to penalize sites that are virtual hosted? With ip addresses becoming harder to get/justify every day why does google discount the relevance of links that don’t come from a unique ip address. Please don’t just deny it, I think the Internet community deserves an explanation.

Craig answers:

I can’t just deny it? What are my other choices? [:)] Actually, Google handles virtually hosted domains and their links just the same as domains on unique IP addresses. If your ISP does virtual hosting correctly, you’ll never see a difference between the two cases. We do see a small percentage of ISPs every month that misconfigure their virtual hosting, which might account for this persistent misperception–thanks for giving me the chance to dispel a myth!

Thanks, Mr. Un-Named Source – I love to be able to publish something from 2002 that makes a whole lot of people that have been selling snake oil for 6 years about, especially when I didn’t know that ya’ll had gone on record saying this was BS.

So, there you have it. It’s BS, says the Google.

11 Responses to If you say SEO and Dedicated IP one more time…

  1. Janice Schwarz says:
    May 22, 2008 at 2:51 pm.

    I’m glad you shared this one. I deal with a lot of SEO myths in web design too. There are a lot of con artists out there that put out some crazy information. While there is some decent information out there, SEO on the whole, is not an exact science nor does anyone know exactly how all search engines rank sites because they typically don’t release that information to the public. And the average person is not aware of this.

    What’s sad is how many people take money from folks that just don’t know better and make these crazy promises about their future site traffic. On my own SEO FAQ, I point out that if an SEO business is telling everyone that they can be #1 in Google, common sense tells us that isn’t going to happen. There’s only room for 1 at the top.

    • Janice Schwarz says:
      May 23, 2008 at 3:12 am.

      The hilarious thing is that written content IS the trick to Google! Good written content, relevant content, descriptive content.

      Heck, I have people that can find me locally (above locals that have been around longer than me) because I have the sense to write out every description of the local area on my site (county, city, area nicknames, surrounding towns, etc.).

      Google mostly just cares about what’s on your site and how many (relevant) sites are linking to you. And you have to have decent content to get those links.

      Yeah. That’s pretty much the bulk of the “trick”. And just what I’m constantly yammering at clients about too.

      Heck, how many people can put in something like “Skippy” and show up in the top 15 on Google? (He used to be top 5 and beat the peanut butter and kangaroo…I think they learned the Google “trick” too!). ;-)

  2. Janice Schwarz says:
    May 22, 2008 at 9:51 am.

    I’m glad you shared this one. I deal with a lot of SEO myths in web design too. There are a lot of con artists out there that put out some crazy information. While there is some decent information out there, SEO on the whole, is not an exact science nor does anyone know exactly how all search engines rank sites because they typically don’t release that information to the public. And the average person is not aware of this.

    What’s sad is how many people take money from folks that just don’t know better and make these crazy promises about their future site traffic. On my own SEO FAQ, I point out that if an SEO business is telling everyone that they can be #1 in Google, common sense tells us that isn’t going to happen. There’s only room for 1 at the top.

    • DrakNet says:
      May 22, 2008 at 9:54 pm.

      “There’s only room for 1 at the top.”

      And everyone seems to be trying to trick their way up there. If these folks spent half the time that they spend on these “tricks” actually writing original site content no one has ever seen before….

      Naaaaaa. That’s not as fun as trying to figger out The Google.

      • Janice Schwarz says:
        May 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm.

        The hilarious thing is that written content IS the trick to Google! Good written content, relevant content, descriptive content.

        Heck, I have people that can find me locally (above locals that have been around longer than me) because I have the sense to write out every description of the local area on my site (county, city, area nicknames, surrounding towns, etc.).

        Google mostly just cares about what’s on your site and how many (relevant) sites are linking to you. And you have to have decent content to get those links.

        Yeah. That’s pretty much the bulk of the “trick”. And just what I’m constantly yammering at clients about too.

        Heck, how many people can put in something like “Skippy” and show up in the top 15 on Google? (He used to be top 5 and beat the peanut butter and kangaroo…I think they learned the Google “trick” too!). ;-)

  3. Vicki Mieth says:
    May 22, 2008 at 4:29 pm.

    Now, if folks just want to throw an extra fiver at Jen each month, the karma would be worth it ;) As one of the folks who has to have a dedicated IP (yay for secure transactions)… it really doesn’t do squat for search engine ratings & the like.
    Sometimes, I wish folk would quit listening to the internet version of Snake Oil salesmen.

  4. Vicki Mieth says:
    May 22, 2008 at 11:29 am.

    Now, if folks just want to throw an extra fiver at Jen each month, the karma would be worth it ;) As one of the folks who has to have a dedicated IP (yay for secure transactions)… it really doesn’t do squat for search engine ratings & the like.
    Sometimes, I wish folk would quit listening to the internet version of Snake Oil salesmen.

    • DrakNet says:
      May 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm.

      It’s hard to ignore them when they’ve all said the same thing and bought into the same bull.

      A friend of mine came back from the WordPress conference and someone speaking up on the dais said the same thing to the people there. I was stunned.

      However, it did give me the chance to write a blog post in which I came up with the line “a Dedicated IP on a shared hosting server is not the web hosting world’s equivalent of a DisneyWorld FastPass.”.

      I really like that line – it even makes me giggle. :)

  5. Trae Dorn says:
    May 23, 2008 at 10:10 pm.

    I once had to do a bunch of SEO BS for a client I was hired to work on (not hosted at Drak). I kept saying that it was a total waste of time… but they insisted, and I happily took their money.

    Just give a page a good title, make sure that menu and navigation links are descriptive… and that’s all you really have to do. All the other stuff does… pretty much nothing.

  6. Trae Dorn says:
    May 23, 2008 at 5:10 pm.

    I once had to do a bunch of SEO BS for a client I was hired to work on (not hosted at Drak). I kept saying that it was a total waste of time… but they insisted, and I happily took their money.

    Just give a page a good title, make sure that menu and navigation links are descriptive… and that’s all you really have to do. All the other stuff does… pretty much nothing.

    • DrakNet says:
      May 23, 2008 at 5:36 pm.

      It’s not a waste of time for the people supporting themselves on suppositions. I have to hand it to these people, though, that’s a heck of a game. I mean, start a business where:

      1) You claim to be an expert in something that
      2) No one can prove you are doing right or wrong because the info you claim you have is proprietary and supposition and
      3) if you use the tricks you came up with to work the system you think you know there’s a possibility that instead of helping your client you’ll hurt him worse than if he never came to you
      4) and charge outrageously for it.

      I mean, that really is brilliance. Ridiculous and maybe even unethical, but brilliant.