Google itself confirmed that its SEO algorithm neither discriminates nor favors a website based on IP address. According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, a website with a unique IP address has no algorithmic advantage over sites with shared IP addresses. Cutt is straightforward in debunking the “unique IP theory” as a myth.
Before the advent of virtual private server (VPS), shared and dedicated hosting are the only two options for web publishers looking for managed server solutions. Signing up for shared hosting means publishing your website under an IP address used by other customers of your web host, whereas dedicated hosting gives you a unique IP address and server, which of course costs more. The “Unique IP = SEO Factor” myth somehow helped foster the growth of virtual private server hosting, in which one physical server is split into multiple user accounts, each having a unique IP address.
Google Ban Websites by Domain Name, Not by IP
Google is aware that millions of websites share a common IP address, that’s why banning sites by IP address doesn’t make sense. As a proof, Google is requiring web owners to specify their site’s domain name (not IP address) when sending a request to reverse Google’s ban or penalty. Google admits that a ban could be subject to reversal upon review.
Another proof is that a banned domain name would not appear in Google search results even if it is transferred to a new host with a different IP address, unless the new owner informs Google that the banned domain is now under a new ownership and populated with entirely new content. This clearly shows that Google relies on domain name instead of IP address when ranking websites. Read the real story of Chris Webb who bought ckwebb.com after it was blacklisted by Google.
Getting a unique IP via VPS or dedicated web hosting is not bad either. A dedicated IP prevents security issues and allows for more flexibility in tweaking the server environment.
Possible Reasons Why Some Sites Seem to be Banned based on IP Address
Google is of course smarter than black-hat SEO experts out there. Since a single server can be abused for SEO purposes, Google looks into domain registrant information to check if a single webmaster is maintaining a large network of spammy sites. Google can uncover illegal SEO activities by looking at domain registration data. If you are planning to purchase domain names from GoDaddy and publish them under the same IP address, that’s fine. But if you would use them to build links to your main site, Google may ban your entire site network. Registrant data would show that these sites are owned by a single webmaster and by having a common outbound links, it would be undeniable that they have been created mainly for SEO purposes.
The ISP of your web host can also affect your site’s ranking in subtle ways. For instance, a host with high downtime can misinform a crawler that your site is not existing. This can lead to temporary downgrade in the PageRank of all sites in the server. Also, if the server computer is slow in handling client request, bounce rates may increase. Bounce rate indicates how long a visitor has stayed in your website, and this is one of more than 200 SEO factors in Google’s algorithm.
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